Martyn Bates

Mystery Seas

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A sequel to Martyn Bates' first solo album, 1982's 10" EP Letters Written, Mystery Seas sounds like it was composed and performed on exactly the same keyboard as the original record. Like Letters Written, these are solo vocal and keyboard pieces with minimal (if any) percussion. Unlike the earlier EP, however, Bates opens up his arrangements enough to allow backing vocals, flute, saxophone, and other noises into the more spacious and less tense songs. Mystery Seas is a calming, pacific record, even on darker songs like the roiling opener "You, Looking to Me for a Sign" (which, interestingly, is built on a nearly identical keyboard pattern to Letters Written's opening track, "Morning Singing"). It's also interesting that for the first time in his solo career, Mystery Seas finds Bates' on-again, off-again partner in Eyeless in Gaza, Peter Becker, taking part. Becker engineered the album, sings harmonies, and plays percussion on some tracks; the liner notes even go so far as to say "produced by Eyeless in Gaza." Other than Becker's limited instrumental role and lack of writing credits, Mystery Seas is an Eyeless in Gaza album in all but name.

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