After a reluctant reshaping for the sake of '80s-pop palatability, and a subsequent hiatus of several years, Martyn Bates and Peter Becker resurrected Eyeless In Gaza in the mid-'90s. Its latter-day incarnation retained the duo's signature blend of impassioned improvisation and emotive pop, while witnessing the project's graceful maturation and an interest in English folk traditions.
Consisting of equal parts pop, folk, and experimentation, 1999's wonderful SONG OF THE BEAUTIFUL WANTON is a satisfying culmination of Eyeless In Gaza's singular trajectory. Bates and Becker have amassed an impressive instrumental arsenal, with which they detail the idyllic settings framing Bates' now-mellowed and often multi-tracked voice. The exotically textured "Mysterious Traffic," and "One Light Then" offer immediate surprises in deftly incorporated trip-hop electronics and dub-like tape effects, while the sumptuously cinematic "Old and Cold and Full of Ghosts" spills sound effects into "The Lovely Wanton." Technology proves only a passing fancy, however. ...WANTON proceeds as a scintillating set of pastoral paeans ("Lullay My Liking," "Staring," "Apple"), mythical musings ("The Silkie," "Lord Gregory"), and stinging, self-reflective songwriting ("Staring," "Less Sky") delivered with EIG's mead-tongued yet lyrically barbed facility. A superb show all around, complemented by gorgeous photographic presentation.