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Coil – Astral Disaster

Label: Threshold House/World Serpent Format: CD,LP

Coil - Astral DisasterCoil, man. What the fuck can you say about Coil that even comes close? Whether they’re slowly frying your brain with drones and disturbingly unidentifiable sounds (Time Machines, for example, or the wonderfully bizarre Elph album Worship The Glitch) or beating the shit out of you with percussion and noise (much of Scatology) they plough a furrow very much their own. A cocktail of magick and drugs, of horror and beauty. Songs about Pasolini and LSD. Recent years have seen them fuck way off into the stratosphere, stranger than ever, with that sound you can’t describe, that keeps changing, but is always, in essence, Coil and can be recognised as such in an instant.

So this one then. Will it be sounds or songs? Nice or nasty or a vaguely shameful blending of the two? Well what it definitely is is fucking awesome. Opener “The Avatars” is a gloriously chaotic piece of atonal electronica, while “The Mothership & The Fatherland”, with its titular hintings at the Nazi UFO technology theory, is a much more measured affair, new kid Thighpaulsandra (Mellotron meister and long-time Julian Cope sidekick) making his influence known in a track that sounds like something off a Queen Elizabeth album, only spookier. And done by Coil, obviously.

“2nd Sun Syndrome” is where things start to become disturbingly Lovecraftian – sounds seem to bubble up through the floor, and the whole (short) piece just exudes menace and wonder like a motherfucker. By “The Sea Priestess”, Lovecraft is in full effect, with Jhon Balance delivering a monologue blending the wilfully surreal (“On the sea-coast of Tibet, Egyptian Aztecs are arriving from Norway” he intones) with the wondrous (“Do not lose sight of the sea”) and Coil suddenly begin to resemble the Legendary Pink Dots doing a musical version of old H.P.’s Through the Gates of the Silver Key – scary and awe-inspiring.

Sole concession to actual songs per se, “I Don`t Want To Be The One”, is absolutely fucking beautiful. Strings and electronics blend into a backing someone like Michael Nyman could do if he was less whimsical and more – well, more fucked. And evil. Imagine Peter Greenaway making a horror film. Imagine Nyman’s soundtrack. Think “fuck, yes!” and listen to this track. It’s ace. And that’s without even mentioning Balance’s characteristically sinister vocals, beginning barely above mumble level and elevating to howls and shrieks by the end. It all leaves you quite out of breath, and you need a good chilling out session. Which closer “MU-UR” seems to offer. Only this being Coil, chilling takes on a whole new meaning, and by the time the fleetingly lovely piano phrase at the end begins to decay and distort, the Great Old Ones themselves could pop over to borrow a cup of sugar and you wouldn’t bat an eyelid.

So, thus aurally stimulated (which would sound awfully rude if you read it out loud, so I wouldn’t. Especially if you have the vicar round for tea), dear reader, I shall bid you a fond adieu, sit in my easy chair and have a cigarette before going to bed. But – wait – mercy of heaven, what is that shape behind the parting smoke? No – the rats they can never hear, the rats, the rats, the rats in the walls… IA! IA! SHUB-NIGGURATH! The three-lobed burning eye……… (writing becomes illegible).

Manuscript found by
-Deuteronemu 90210, Professor of music, magick, and generally weird shit, Miskatonic University-

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