time_machines's Journal

.coil, and england's hidden reverse.
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this is a discussion forum for coil, associated ideas, and england's hidden reverse.

this is currently an open forum, and one would think it shall remain as such.

in a serious discussion ov coil, and things related... there is very little that is truly 'off topic,' and all discussion is welcome.

please, let's at least try to remain civil, however.

for more information about the band coil, please see the website at coil at brainwashed or the official website at threshold house

(a brief, incomplete, outdated history.)
History by Glenn Gossling
(with corrections and additions by Rick Crowell, Pete Werner and Jon Whitney )
Formed London, 1983 by John Balance as a solo side project to Psychic TV but developed into a full-scale musical project in 1984, when he cemented a partnership with Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson. Christopherson had been a founder of Psychic TV and member of Throbbing Gristle, experimenting with tape loops since early days in TG, using the first crude computer samplers live on stage, and later pioneering experiments with the Fairlight. (He had also been a member of graphic designers Hypgnosis, who produced covers for groups like Zeppelin and Floyd in the 70s.)
Psychic TV albums that feature Coil before there was a Coil are Force the Hand of Chance, Themes I (included with the vinyl of Force, later released as "Cold Dark Matter"), Dreams Less Sweet, N.Y. Scum Haters (later reissued as Psychic TV live: Volume three Thee city ov tokyo the e city ov new york), and Berlin Atonal Festival I & II (live recording reissued later as Miain Goettin in Gen), and Live at the Ritz. John Balance is not credited on the first two albums (Force and Themes), just Sleazy. These live recordings may have been the only live performances of John and Peter with Psychic TV. They are the first few PTV live performances.

Transparent was the first ever Coil release as Coil. Where this gets tricky is the fact that Coil and Zos Kia were the same band for a while. By that I mean, not just that John Balance was a member (which was also true of PTV), but several of what would later become Coil tracks were done during this period. By that token, the first-ever Coil release is Zos Kia's "Rape" single, "Rape" being an early version of "Here To Here (A Double Headed Secret)".

The seventeen-minute, one-sided 12" titled "How To Destroy Angels" was released in 1984 and was described on the cover notes as 'ritual music for the accumulation of male sexual energy'. It was dedicated to the god Mars and used predominantly iron and steel instruments, such as swords and gongs. It was a theme echoed on the group's debut album, Scatology (1984), on which Balance and Christopherson collaborated with Stephen Thrower (of Possession), J. G. Thirwell (aka Foetus) and Gavin Friday. Concerned with the alchemical or spiritual process of transforming base material into gold, the album compounded a multitude of apparently banal non-musical sound sources, which were processe d to create a momentum within changing rhythms. The result was an album of considerable intensity that varies from slow dramatic tracks like "At the Heart of it All" to the ferocious celebratory bacchanalia of "Panic".

Coil's next release was a 12" single covering Soft Cell's "Tainted Love" (1984) with "Aqua Regis" and a restructured version of "Panic" on the B-side. Coil produced a video to accompany the single: featuring car crashes, hallucinogenic putrefaction and Marc Almond as the Angel of Death, it was widely banned, but the Museum of Modern Art in New York bought a copy.

Between 1984 and 1986 Coil collaborated with Derek Jarman on the film The Angelic Conversation, the soundtrack to which was reworked and remixed before release under the same title. After Nightmare Culture (1986), a collaboration with Boyd Rice, Coil recruited Stephen Thrower as a full member of the band and released the album Horse Rotorvator (1986) and an EP called Anal Staircase (1986). Horse Rotorvator combined Fairlight brass and clunky percussion with lyrics about sex, death and cannibalism. However, the album's most striking feature was Christopherson's sampling - notably on "Ostia", where a recording of grasshoppers on the Aztec pyramid at Chichen Itza is used as the vehicle for a song about the film maker Pasolini, who was murdered by a rent-boy in Ostia.

These were followed by a mini-album, The Unreleased Themes for Hellraiser (1987), a mix of tracks originally produced as a soundtrack for the Clive Barker film, plus a number of themes written for adverts. The tracks for Hellraiser were sublimely atmospheric Gothic instrumentals, with menacing undercurrents, while the advertising jingles rangde from Satie-styled ambience to Thelonious Monk-influenced be-bop.

In 1987 Coil incorporated Otto Avery into the line-up and went through their archives to produce Gold is the Metal, a remastering and remixing job that embraced a range of music wide enough to offend and inspire most people. Though self-consciously experimental, it stands out as one of their best albums because of the way it concentrates many of their obsessions - magic, bizarre and ambivalent sexuality, shifting states of consciousness, and alchemical transformation.

This sense of summing up continued with the first volume of the Unnatural History retrospective (1990), after which there came a substantial change in musical direction, as Coil began a foray into the techno/rave scene with the "Windowpane" and "Wrong Eye". These prepared the way for Love's Secret Domain (1991), a large-scale multi-collaborator production that switched between psychotic dance tracks and freaked-out industrial experimentalism. It manifested an aural inferno, a sonic landscape where psychotropic experiences were played out against a backdrop of Blakean imagery.

This album opened the door to many other fruitful collaborations, notably with Nine Inch Nails, whose Trent Reznor signed Coil to his own label. In 1992, they released Stolen and Contaminated Songs, outtakes from LSD, as well as a full-length album of remixes of How To Destroy Angels. 1994 saw the release of the soundtrack for The Angelic Conversation and two more singles ("Protection" and "Nasa Arab"), and 1995 brought the second volume of Unnatural History and Worship the Glitch. In 1996, they released A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room and are currently working on new material.

For over ten years Coil have been at the forefront of European experimentalism and electronic music. They have been outstanding innovators, always seeking to drag the mainstream into the darker margins of the occult.

Taken from the Rough Guide to Rock. © Rough Guides Ltd. First edition published Aug 96 / Nov 96 (USA).