By DONNA BALANCIA
Invisible Eyes takes a new approach with its debut album Searching for Crows, blending sounds of Ethiopian World Music with classic old-style UK punk to create an entirely new music genre.
Fresh off a Glastonbury gig, Invisible Eyes debuts the album Searching For Crows today.
Dan Harper’s latest record is simple but sophisticated and is clearly influenced by his experience as an aid worker in Ethiopia. Harper’s world travels are reflected in the music. On the record are Dan Harper, Paul Boswell on bass and Matthew Cross on drums.
Harper has a “get it done” attitude that shows through his writing and producing the music, and promoting his work. His previous albums with his previous band, Invisible System, are among the works that have won music awards and one listen and it’s obvious why. That band formed the roots of the new album.
However, Harper is not in Mali. The Invisible Eyes project is based in the UK. It was recorded where there actually is running water and electricity — rare luxuries for Harper, a former aid worker based in Ethiopia. That’s where he recorded Acid Mali 2000 off a car battery, a generator and, as he puts it, a “shite” old laptop.
Harper and Invisible Eyes are bringing back British punk and there is a hunger for this style of music. Other bands can take a lesson from this sophisticated but simple sound that is full of passion and driving beats.
The drum work and the bass are so critical to this unique sound and Bos and Matt do an amazing job making the band sound volumes fuller than merely a trio. “Skin Yer Cat” is the opener, it’s an upbeat work that keeps the listener moving along, albeit via a ride on the angry train, where it holds the listener hostage for stops down the line.
On “Sufi The Dead,” it’s the drums that take the lead. The driving bass supports a twangy guitar in a setting of urgent mating call. It’s no surprise coming from a guy whose strength has been world music and who has a passion for it.
“Hitched Up Tight” is another one of those simple and direct songs. The sound could pass for the cleaner little brother of the Sleaford Mods only with a compelling and tight beat. The singer laments about a few things, but mainly a girl who went in the other direction working the city in her stilettos.
“The Creature” is a perfect illustration of what the entire album is about, and what it focuses on. The songs deal with the what’s directing you and it asks the question about which we all may need to revisit: Are you too afraid to look within yourself to see who you are?
The title track, “Searching For Crows” puts in perspective succinctly what Harper believes about the eternal battle for victim and prey.
The bass leads on a classic called “Granny Nickers” that has fast and furious delivery with little meaning to discern, and that’s probably for the best on this upbeat and fun track. Another quasi-nonsensical and groovy track is “Goat Meat,” riveting in its delivery and complete with Harper’s wild bleating — Baaaaahhhhh.
“Cult” is the most powerful punk song we have heard in a while. It’s haunting as Harper uses a monotone voice almost as if he too were possessed by a cult. It’s almost as if Harper’s screaming is a freakish SOS and a plea to remove him from a hell of which we know not. It’s punctuated by rapid-fire Morse Code-style guitar and insanely exquisite drumming.
There is an irony to the timing of the release of this song as it just so happens that two cults have been making the news in California. One is a for-profit “religion” so powerful that it even beat the IRS. And there’s the soap seller whose educated leader told a local college admin to inform this writer that if we were to refer to them as a cult again “nobody will ever believe you.” While there are other varieties of cults that occur outside of the U.S., in the states there exists a special corporate kind, from which few escape. Until they drain you of all your earthly possessions and cash. At that point, you may leave, one way or another.
It’s enough to drive anyone to screaming at a fever pitch and that is exactly what Harper does on “Cult,” a simply fantastic tune. It’s remarkable that someone can get such a unique sound out of a couple of chords about three notes, and such a simple but catchy riff.
The drumming is high class and tight and forms a perfect union with the powerful driving bass that is the key in the song. A video here proves these Brits can be just as crazy as Americans who love their punk music.
Listen to Dan Harper’s World Music-inspired Single ‘Bone Flaps’
Searching For Crows was recorded in one day, Harper said.
“The 12 tracks were jammed, each played twice in our makeshift pirate den rehearsal room after I set up my roaming Worm Hole Studios equipment,” he said. “We faced each other and played. There was no separation of instruments so I sculpted the bleed both in and out of the mix and worked on the sound and production in his studio afterwards.”
The band has been playing around Bristol, Bath, Frome, London etc as well as playing with other bands such as Hawkwind, The Damned (Captain Sensible also played on the first Invisible System album), Twink (from The Pink Fairies/Syd Barrett/The Pretty Things), and Pussycat And The Dirty Johnsons.
Invisible Eyes – Cult (live)