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Plague of Years (Songs and Instrumentals 1980-2006)

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Album Review

Plague of Years is a single-disc retrospective by Peter Becker and Martyn Bates, aka Eyeless in Gaza. The duo began recording with minimal instrumentation — Becker's piano and keyboards, some primitive drum machines, a guitar here and there, as well as a traditional drum kit (or at least the snares and cymbals) — and made music in the post-punk era that was both challenging and hideously beautiful. The reason for that description comes from the sound of Bates' voice: nasal, emotionally overwrought, and often flat, it was a voice that expressed things in his utterly naked and poetic words that the heart could comprehend, but that the intellect often could not. Long before Morrissey ever warbled, Bates ripped the door off the closet of his fear, longing, love, and disappointment, framing it with colors that held many shades of gray, but also held out the glimmer of gold for hope. There are 21 cuts on this set, beginning with their earliest tracks from 1980's debut album, Photographs as Memories ("John of Patmos"), and the amazing "Every Which Way" from 1981's Caught in Flux, issued by Cherry Red, and moving through their utterly brilliant albums Drumming the Beating Heart, Song of the Beautiful Wanton, Orange Ice & Wax Crayons, and Back from the Rains. There are cuts from compilations, such as "To Steven" and "Sun-Like-Gold," that appeared as two parts of a three-part suite on Sub Rosa's Myths. Instructions., singles such as "County Bizarre" on NDN, and the gorgeous "Falling Leaf/Fading Flower" from the 12" Pale Hands I Loved So Well, which was a bonus disc tucked inside the Drumming the Beating Heart CD. There are also cuts here from Bitter Apples, the album they released for World Serpent in 1995, and Saw You in Reminding Pictures from the Ambivalent Scale label. This is but a taste, of course, since Eyeless in Gaza needed to be taken album by album, but one honest encounter with one of their songs will send the listener scrambling for more. The music here is beauty that is so out of place in this world, it can scarcely be borne.


Formed: 1980

Genre: Rock

Years Active: '80s

Specializing in alternative pop/rock, post-punk, and art rock, the experimental British duo Eyeless in Gaza have enjoyed an enthusiastic cult following since the early 1980s. The music of Eyeless in Gaza has tended to be moody, quirky and atmospheric, drawing on influences that have ranged from Brian Eno, Pink Floyd and Pere Ubu to Roxy Music, David Bowie (especially Bowie's Low/ Heroes/Lodger period of the late 1970s) and the seminal Kraftwerk. Eyeless in Gaza experimented with electronics from...
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Plague of Years (Songs and Instrumentals 1980-2006), Eyeless In Gaza
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