KODAX STROPHES / MARTYN BATES
It Doesn't Matter Where It's Solstice When You're In The Room
(2020 - Klanggalerie - Austria)
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I use the same qualifier very often with whatever the direction a Martyn Bates album takes, simply due to the fact that several accolades do indeed fit his music. While his early music may relate closer to this particular release, in the experimental, abstract and even industrial soaked, with those atmospheric gothic flavors; the same heterogeneity exists with his music. There is the antique factor that always remains, even from his very early work and then most surely with Eyeless In Gaza, which has always had a dual formula of beauty and slight provocation, always landing in the gratification zone. There is always a rich cradle of those bygone colors of aged maps - earthy rust, jade greens, deep ruby, along with gold leaf sculptures, and darkly corners of mystery, only yet to be discovered, again (or for the first time). While not a utopian song oriented solo with Martyn adding his intoxicating vocals, this has a elements of a soundtrack of both nightmares, and speculative terrain. It stays true to the binary ingredients that Martyn, Becker (Pete Becker the other half of EIG) and much of his work with Alan Trench (Orchis, Black Lesbian Fishermen ,Twelve Thousand Days, more discography than one can list in a single page), all have a penchant for.
I found the same jolt of a smooth but abrasive slide from 'I Got Inner TV' (track #3) to 'Eyeless House' (track #4) even if the entry to it does welcome the same ardor. The drift to that enigma is nearly a quietus, even if still leaving ample room for the mechanical onslaught to stay in the ring as the victor. It is however 'Skulls' (the following track #5) that brings in the allurement of Martyn Bates at his more elegant setting. Not pure but substantial with that faraway bewitchery. The deep listener receives even more of this with 'My World, I Mean Your World' (track #6) which provides more hypnotic reflection. Let me state that the production is breathtaking throughout, which allows the collectiveness of Martyn's work to radiate as designed. It feels as if the title could be adapted to 'It's Solstice When You're In The Room' while listening to the album from beginning to end. Certainly the ending composition 'You Don't Own Me' leaves you with the same antagonistic parts as much of the album, once again weaving the untainted with the uninhibited, and exposing the human frailty that burdens the human species.
'It Doesn't Matter Where It's Solstice When You're In The Room' is one more treasure from Mr Bates, and although in large part goes back to his pre-existent styles, it also maintains the unique balance of rugged and refined that all EIG fans have loved for decades. In a quote from the label notes the recording is explained like this: "all the pieces were written and developed to ‘mess-aesthetic film’ images of Bates' own devising." I spoke with Martyn about the album and he said the name Kodax Strophes references its filmic orientation. In other words, the pieces were written to be partly musical and also filmic. He also wanted to emphasize that he added the Kodax Strophes to indicate this was not the usual (or at least EIG and solo of mid to late that many would only know of. But it does route back to his very beginnings before EIG, with the band Migraine Inducers (1979/1980), which was of the more experimental and industrial mode. Speaking of film, you will note credits on back of CD jacket, and these are coming out as "filmettes" (as Bates calls them) on You Tube. Already out are:
'Dream Galaxies of Nebulous Opacity'
and 'Triple Echo Again Again'
He will have more to follow. The cover art was to represent dissonance (hint to who or what the reference to "Dissonance - 19" is as noted with Martyn as producer), and some of the titles of 'It Doesn't Matter Where It's Solstice When You're In The Room' have references to mishearing some of Martyn's favorite song lyrics (from a his own collection of vinyl albums). Another important piece of the puzzle is what Martyn told me "The album is my first 100% self-recorded/produced album since 'Dissonance', and it might be considered some kind of full circle". That was the debut album under name Migraine Inducers ('Dissonance / Antagonistic' - 1980). On this 2020 album the music is mastered by Martin Bowes, and as said, recorded and produced by Dissonance and Martyn Bates. He plays all instruments (Sounds, Effects, Piano, Drums, Electronics, Voice), and composed all the music. He also did the artwork. Comes in a very nice six panel digipak, so you and I can keep this physical item in our library forever, without worry of corrupt HD, files, and lack of detailed info at our instant recall. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED.
©Reviewed by Lee Henderson 4 - 20 - 2021