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Peter Christopherson – Live at L’Étrange Festival 2004

Black Mass Rising

Peter Christopherson - Live at L'Étrange Festival 2004The music on this album feels quietly all-encompassing; you can tell immediately that it’s Sleazy because over time he’s developed true signatures; there’s sounds here that are indistinct and yet unmistakable. This could be Coil because, in many ways, it is Coil. I mean, we know that sometimes Coil’s music was just Sleazy don’t we? We know that Balance is on this album in a way he was on every track that Coil produced and that it really doesn’t matter if he’s literally on the album because he’s, à la Jack Torrance in The Shining, always been there. He’s in amongst the sounds, the sighs, the loops. He’s where he isn’t. Is especially there. And, if there’s any doubters, there’s a kind of instrumental, extra-wooshy version of “Sex With Sun Ra” on side three too.

This is why Coil ceased when Jhonn died, why the name needed to die with him. With him gone, the essence was gone and essence seemed to be everything with Coil. It made them magickal, it made them unique. It made love for them seem a little overblown because, occasionally, their actual music didn’t always work, didn’t always seem better than some of their peers (or even their followers). People might actually argue that “Oh X does that kind of thing better”, but those people continually missed the point: Coil weren’t trying to elicit emotion, they weren’t attempting to express emotion; their music was a clarification of it (I’m stealing this from Collingwood’s theory of the value of art) and this had its own trials and tribulations; the Backwards stuff they did for Trent Reznor’s Nothing label, for instance, clearly didn’t feel authentic to them; they felt they were trying too hard and… they were right. Probably, we didn’t need to hear those things (though some of them are brilliant) because they were failed experiments and they knew it.

So, Coil’s music wasn’t really about music (when you listen to Coil, do you think of music?) and this release, this performance, might be one of the clearest examples of this. It’s dedicated to Derek Jarman, and his films slide like this slides: a little indeterminate, sidereal, content to exist on its own terms but also being quite demanding of your time. A beautiful damaged child. You really have to listen because there’s a slightness to this recording which might mean it gets lost but, if you pay attention, there are rich rewards. The ebbs and flows in Christopherson’s music are often more extreme than this, most of the stuff on the three sides of this beautifully felt album (the fourth side is a black scrying mirror à la John Dee or the B-side of How To Destroy Angels) is akin to the slow tidal turns of the Time Machines stuff, or perhaps that 10” they released on Beta-Lactam Ring Records, with less obviously time-stretched glitch and more glacial movement, bell tolling, almost Nurse With Wound-esque rumbling.

I haven’t yet listened on headphones; I feel this needs them. There’s stuff I haven’t heard, I’m sure. You won’t think that this is one of your favourite Coil-related releases but it is unmistakeably them and, sometimes (Sometimes…), that is enough…


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