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CHOP SUEY Presents:
It tastes like blood and psilocybin.
Eighteen Individual Eyes play darkly sensual musique noir, their first album Unnovae Nights an intoxicating, trembling journey through rock’s primal subconscious. It’s a narcotic dazzle, a beautiful alternate world in shadows, addictive relations at its beating heart. The songs are as lyrically meaningful and layered as the music created for them.
The band is part of a new tribe of groups that can’t be easily categorized, but are finding fans who want to be transfixed by music that delivers them someplace else. “I travel places in my head,” lead vocalist/guitarist Irene Barber (performs as Irene Barbaric) says about when creates, “I feel an interconnectedness between my life and what I’m singing. When I am feeling disconnected, I channel that into a song, and in turn the song itself plugs me back into a new place.” Guitarist Jamie Aaron adds, “And we’re trying to paint a picture of doing that, not just slapping some guitar on there.”
Listening to the ten track EIE debut feels like walking through a marsh at a mystical hour of night, hearing someone who loves you call out to you with encouragement and warning. It sounds remarkably sensual for some place you’ve never been before, and intimately rewards staying involved with it.
Recorded by Matt Bayles (Cursive, Minus The Bear, Russian Circles), Unnovae Nights’ diverse but intensely focused songs feature eerily beautiful vocals from Irene, whose childhood summers spent in the islands of the Philippines seem channeled into its mysterious siren’s call. Her lyrics are mesmerizing whether they’re imploring a lover to find her way through the emotional kudzu and bracken of brokenness, or describing her own journey out into the warm light of liberation.
Unnovae Nights sounds like a full-length psychological thriller, as legendary NW producer Bayles has shrewdly recorded tech-obsessed, guitar gear-geek Jamie, whose sonic alchemy engineers worlds of sound out of layers of assertive riffs and dazzling chord tangles. This is rhythmically assisted by the bliss of Samantha Wood’s dark bass throb, and the kinetic drumming of Andy King (Lovesick Empire, See Me River).
Bayles made the group acutely mindful of their playing, very aware of what they were doing for ten days in his Red Room Studios in December 2011 and they enjoyed every minute of it. “We wanted to work with Matt no matter what,” Jamie says, adding “we were excited to see what he would do with us considering he is mostly a hardcore and post-hardcore producer.” His vivid work amplifies their compositions so intricate and daring, to be as beautiful as they are forceful.
“There’s a bad-assness to what we’ve created together,” Sam says, also describing Irene’s stories describing “characters freaking out in songs both tender and disturbing.” Unnovae Nights’ title refers to the kind of people who don’t draw unnecessary attention to themselves, but burn in quiet, illuminated glory, sometimes oblivious to their own magnetism. Reminiscent of cult movies such as Heavenly Creatures, where two people fall into each other desperately and wrestle with keeping sane (or collaborating against it), it reflects Irene’s own coming to terms with her sense of identity and sexuality, and the music freak tendencies of the band, who swap You Tube videos and LPs and player-crushes with each other as fervently as they write, rehearse, and ferociously record.
In the music scene, EIE has a special place, evoking both Warpaint and Wild Flag, paradoxically more poppy and more heavy than either of those bands. Barber (ex-Hungry Pines), Aaron (H Is For Hellgate), Wood, and King have delivered a debut that will make good on the praise given them from media sources such as NPR’s Robin Hilton.
Following up their tour last year with The Bruises, Eighteen Individual Eyes are ready to release Unnovae Nights in early March, and then play out and tour as much as possible after its expansive charms excite new and old fans alike.
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