Eyeless in Gaza: “Letters to She” (Pale Hands I Loved So Well, 1982)
After I posted the final three volumes of my UK Prog series yesterday, there was a bit of discussion about things that were left out, and one of the bands that came up was Eyeless in Gaza. The last thing I cut from Volume 20 was XTC’s “Travels in Nihilon;” the thing I cut just before that was Eyeless in Gaza’s “Letters to She.”
This song isn’t quite typical of EiG—the band had a very peculiar way of putting songs together, and I’ll probably post something tomorrow to highlight that, but Pale Hands I Loved So Well is an anomaly in their discography in that it’s an album of totally abstract instrumentals. I’ve seen it referred to as ambient music, but that doesn’t quite describe the strange and often beautiful sound of this captivating record.
”Letters to She” travels from one of the album’s extremes to another over its six and a half minutes. It begins with a haunting passage of faux-Gregorian chant, but as the synthesizers and tone generators come in, it quickly becomes dissonant and unsettling. As this soundscape builds and warps, voices, speaking and singing, enter and are subsumed by the shifting layers of sound. Not exactly easy listening, but when it pulls back for the melting drone that occupies the last 40 seconds, it feels satisfying.
Eyeless in Gaza are still active. I didn’t hear the albums they released in 2010 and 2011, but their 2006 double album Summer Salt/Subway Sun was excellent.