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The Eyes In The Heat – Amateur EP review

There’s a line in LCD Soundsystem’s “Losing My Edge” where James Murphy talks about bands selling guitars and buying turntables, or vice versa. Thankfully The Eyes In The Heat are nowhere near the hipster contrivance that Murphy was lampooning, but there’s always a critical question mark hovering over an artist who looks to migrate from one niche field to another.

The artist in question is Oliver Ho, who has joined forces with vocalist Zizi Kanaan and drummer Jerome Tcherneyan to create a very style-specific project which makes its debut proper on this EP. The sound that the trio are aiming for is clearly documented in the podcast they completed for us recently, which leans heavily towards angular no-wave post punk from New York staples and their modern counterparts.

The main principle of this kind of song-writing is of course simplicity, which is strictly adhered to. Lead track “Amateur” works around a bony rhythm section made up of sparse drums and a simple Italo bass note, lifted only by the off-beat guitar chops and considered noise. Without a doubt though, the icy, tuneless vocals from Zizi dominate the mix (with occasional support from a male counterpart – perhaps Ho himself?), sometimes effected but mostly dry in the mix. It’s linear and funky, although at times it feels a little too clean for the kind of androgynous seediness that the music seems to yearn for.

“I Used To Be Spanish” sees Zizi more noticeably singing, although it’s not obvious that this is where her strengths lie. The robotic allure of her less-sung vocals draw you in much easier than this slightly Joy Division-flavoured vignette. In this sense “Hold Up” is almost instantly stronger as a rigid bass line arpeggiates underneath her drawl, but even beyond this the counterpart elements in the track fit more naturally than on its predecessor. The overall feeling is that not all the disparate elements feeding into this project have been ironed out yet, but already some brilliant moments have been found. The strung out guitar chime breakdown two thirds of the way through “Hold Up” sounds like the band realising their ideas perfectly, both organic and mechanical at the same time.

Keeping his roots sated, Oliver Ho takes the reins for a “Dark Dub Mix” of “Amateur” under his Raudive alias, and ditches the guitar and punchy bass notes with one monolithic analogue synth phrase which will serve the track well on a huge spread of dancefloors. It’s a sterling reminder of what he’s achieved in the past, amidst the intrigue of what he sets out to achieve now.

Oli Warwick