Eyeless In Gaza ‎– Orange Ice & Wax Crayons

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Tracklist

Ways Of Rachel 3:10
Stay 4:22
What I Want To Know 4:00
Old Lime Quarry 3:19
All Lone Hours 3:44
Street Lamps N' Snow 4:28
Early Empty Lanes 4:33
From Drawn Blinds 3:53
Hours Grow 3:37
Fear Clutches 2:26
My Lost Melody 4:41
P.S. For Michael 1:47
Music For Playgrounds 2:02
Egg Box Mask 4:23

Versions (4)

Cat# Artist Title (Format) Label Cat# Country Year
DLP5, FDLP5 Eyeless In Gaza Orange Ice & Wax Crayons(LP, Album + 7", Single, Ltd) Document, Document DLP5, FDLP5 UK 1992 Sell This Version
DCD5 Eyeless In Gaza Orange Ice & Wax Crayons(CD, Comp) Document DCD5 UK 1992 Sell This Version
DLP5 Eyeless In Gaza Orange Ice & Wax Crayons(LP, Album, W/Lbl) Document DLP5 UK 1992 Sell This Version
cat9 Eyeless In Gaza Orange Ice & Wax Crayons(CD, Comp, RE) Cat Sun cat9 Poland 2012 Sell This Version

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May 21, 2012
referencing Orange Ice & Wax Crayons, LP, Album + 7", Single, Ltd, DLP5, FDLP5
They claim this album to be a collection of off-cuts & previously neglected or unreleased tracks, which suggests a recording of inferior material & quality, put out to squeeze a little more money from their 'fans' - let's be honest now, there's a lot of it about. But to prejudice & discard without further exploration, basing prejudice on past experience, is in this case a foolish move. After listening to it just once I decided it was probably the most easily accessible EIG album to date, and after nearly a dozen listens I declare it a 'lost' classic which traces their metamorphic sound from early days to the shinier, poppier 'Back From The Rains' period. And what makes this album so good is that it lacks the of-the-moment self-indulgence many of their recordings had, and instead has had time to mature into a collection of tracks which go from strength to strength. From loose experimental noise to Mood music to Pop songs, this is a showcase for a talent so to be reborn (a new album is due out soon) & the perfect starting point for those who were interested in EYELESS but were unsure of which record to purchase first.
"Ways Of Rachel" gels from loose guitar & percussive sounds, splashes of cymbal & ranging synth into a slow song built on rolling drums & almost COCTEAU's musical backdrop - a mood piece which is given a solid spine of bright marble by MARTYN BATES' strong, distinctive voice. Haunting & sad, while the voice gives it a clean, clear coat. "Stay" might be the track to pick as a single if they were to do such a thing - an upbeat poppy piece which has a strong similarity to the LOTUS EATERS around their first album - it sounds as if it were taken from the "New Risen" era - bright & full sounding yet with a simplicity as fresh after nearly a decade as a bucket of ice water thrown in the face. "What I Want To Know" from slightly before the "Back From The Rains" era has a Funky sound acting as a reliable, constant vessel for MARTYN's freebird voice to play & dance over - a fastish piece given some genuinely uplifting moments with the kind of music which acts almost mnemonically to periods in a person's life. "Old Lime Quarry" is an instrumental - an effective mood piece with a NICO / ROBERT WYATT accordion sound building up into rolling noise & echo-like blips - a warming sound with just enough strangeness to give it edge. "All Lone Hours" might stand with the second track as a double-'A' single - a bright, spring-clear piece of music, almost Christmassy without using any particular clichés. MARTYN's voice, which seems to sing through a melon-slice-wide smile, has a strength & brightness to it which makes one baffled as to why they didn't have a much wider appeal. "Street Lamps N' Snow" is a looser, more experimental piece, bringing to mind MAGAZINE's "The Book", although BATES' Folk-singing strength gives it a slightly, cold, sad, dark mood, suggestive of long sunless Winter days. The large variety of sounds which scratch, tinkle & scrape should appeal to those into a lighter, brighter Industrial sound. "Early Empty Lanes" is a bright, poppy piece, bringing to mind a hybrid of LOTUS EATERS & MAGAZINE circa "Magic, Murder And The Weather" period. You find yourself singing along after only a handful of listens. "From Drawn Blinds" has a quiet, gentle sound to listen to late in the evening, a warming, relaxing sound, again suggesting December nights to one. The vocal harmonies lift the song to great heights, giving it strength despite the thin & simple guitar / bass / cymbal backing. "Hours Grow" is a fast little piece, full of brightly-coloured energy, not really allowing MARTYN to fully indulge his voice, keeping instead a central, up-front sound with a lot more hook. "Fear Clutches" is one of their slower, more moody pieces, built on rippling organ, a slightly sad little theme, EYELESS tended to use this type of simplistic sound, all browns & greys, quite a lot. Here, however, nestling among brighter, more commercial pieces, it acts to give contrast rather than to sustain a slightly down-beat mood. "My Lost Memory" has a thin simplicity to it I feel is probably due to the mix as a lot seems to be going on beneath the surface. Piano, jingling guitar & rich keyboards give it a bright, pebbles splashing in puddles clarity. And yes, again it reminds me a little of MAGAZINE. "P.S. For Michael" was recorded during a rain storm on a Summer's night & is a sort of experimental jam of noises, jangling & booming in a delicate way, almost shy of disturbing the silence. "Great Ocean Liner" is another early piece, showing a great width of sound, reaching for the firmament with flanging keyboards, scratching guitar and lonely violin, all forged into a mass of slowly moving abstract sound. Beneath the noise the rhythm has formed, all components drawn into logical array. It might even pass as a benign version of TG given a good measure of licence. "Dogs Bark" is another non-beat piece based on a droning foundation upon which keyboards are played almost in fantasy. Another of their darker-hued pieces, this one recorded live on a Walkman in Den Haag, Holland. Finally comes "Fever Pitch And Bite", another of their non-beat pieces with a simple rippling sequence over the larger sheets of organ while the voices sing one of their darker pieces.

Despite my seeming to mention only MARTYN BATES above, EIG were undoubtedly a duo, with PETE BECKER equalling his partner's input & sometimes even working harder (I remember seeing them live once & PETE playing both snare drum & bass simultaneously - clever!). And when they eventually expanded into a full group, there seemed to be enough change to suggest input from the other members. But it's the voice, an incomparable sound, which made EYELESS IN GAZA, and which I hope will continue to do so, now, in their reborn form. The vinyl version has a Ltd. Edn. (1500) copies of a single called "Music For Playgrounds" / "Egg-Box Mask".

Originally reviewed for Soft Watch.