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Coil – Astral Disaster Sessions Un/finished Musics


Coil - Astral Disaster SessionsSo let’s just get this out of the way first. This is going to be a horribly biased review. Coil almost single-handedly squeegied my third ear open. They lit up the left side of my musickal brain like a flare going off in a broom cupboard. I am hopelessly partisan, unutterably in love, deeply impressed by and unashamedly in awe.

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Coil – Time Machines


Time MachinesIntended as a psychedelic thoroughfare that cures you of time, if only for its duration, this was one of Coil‘s many crowning glories for me. Along with the Spring Equinox EP “Moon’s Milk”, it opened the floodgates towards a richness that is still sorely missed, even all these years later.

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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

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Jeremy Reed and Karolina Urbaniak – Altered Balance: A Tribute to Coil

Infinity Land Press

Altered Balance: A Tribute to CoilJohn Balance dies and becomes a kind of saint. This is a hagiography of sorts, though it doesn’t attempt to smooth edges or unwrinkle ravages; it’s clear in these beautifully-presented pages that he was a complex, maybe difficult man. It’s also clear that he was a flame that attracted people to him, a person so out there that he was able to continually make them feel welcome. A man full of light, or spectral kindness, of deep morality. A balance.

Like many Coil fans hearing about this book, I was hooked between two poles, pulled apart by horses: on the one hand, we all want more; more insight, more detail about the processes and the paradoxes behind the

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Coil – The Ape Of Naples

Label: Threshold House Format: CD

Coil - The Ape of NaplesThe last Coil album proper, The Ape Of Naples marks a tragic end point, a conclusion to one of the more remarkable groups to grace the annals of electronic and deviant music. Completed under the direction of his longtime collaborator Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson and bringing together tracks recorded in many locations over the last decade or more, this album marks the last such resting place for the polymorphous talents of Jhonn Balance, killed in a tragic fall down the stairs of his home in November 2004. As Coil was Balance’s creation, there can be no more new material, and The Ape Of Naples was assembled painstakingly from pieces completed or otherwise in the difficult months following the accident.

There are glimpses everywhere of the Coil which

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Coil (live at Mind Your Head)

Jhon Balance (Picture: Mink Pelican) The Royal Festival Hall, London 1 October 2002

Following an introduction which emphasizes the psychedelic nature of the selection of musicians and bands from Glenn Maxx, the South Bank Centre’s mastermind for the Mind Your Head season, Coil emerge on stage bathed in UV light, their white costumes stark as the sine waves of their opening number, traces of the music projected visually on the giant screen behind the band. They are joined by Massimo and Pierce of Black Sun Productions, who stand to the front as nude statues in deliberately-paced motion, palms out and impassive as the chaos of noise and light builds behind almost as slowly. The strobes kick in at brain-bending frequencies to match the electronic whirlwind, subliminal texts flicker across the screen, and John Balance dusts his hands, declaring “Electricity has made angels of

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Coil – The Remote Viewer

Label: Threshold House Format: CD

Coil - The Remote ViewerAssembled by John Balance and Peter Christopherson with the early 2002 tour line up of Ossian Brown (from Cyclobe), Cliff Stapleton and Michael York and initially only available at those gigs, The Remote Viewer marks an intriguing shift in the scope of Coil‘s hyper-psychedelic sound. Running on a foundation of Lovecraftian electronics and the sinuous drones of Stapleton’s hurdy gurdy and York’s Breton pipes, the disc opens with “Remote Viewing 1” and plunges straight into the realms of a musical otherworld.

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Mouse on Mars/Coil/Plaid (live)

Plaid's video showThe Barbican, London 27 April 2002

Part of the Only Connect series of live events, tonight was self-described thus: “The history of computer games has also been a parallel history of the development of electronic music . . . this evening’s performances are less illustrations of these sounds and more works informed by this history.”

Plaid (bottom right, tiny....)Well, Plaid set the scene well. They lived up to the computer games connection by serving up music that didn’t seem substantial enough to survive as anything worthwhile without their wonderful visuals. The video projection pulses as it tracks around a space filled with cubes stretching off into the distance, some pulsing yellow in time with the zap-gun beeps and beats; iron girders touch across a shimmering backdrop to create spinning clusters of spokes whose rotations smoothly contrast with the chaos about

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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

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Coil/Nectarine No.9/Foetus (live)

Royal Festival Hall South Bank Centre, London 19th September 2000

For their third live performance in a year after the seventeen of build-up, Coil arrive onstage dressed in unlaced grey strait-jackets, backed by a neon sign proclaimng the title of the night’s performance, Persistance Is All. The multiple possible meanings of this slogan soon becomes apparent, as the playback of Jhon Balance‘s spoken title beat which opens “Something” fills the “Royal” Festival Hall. The group are backed by a circling corona of fire on the projection screen which soon becomes the visual focus for the set, and this develops into a hypnagogic kaleidoscope show of the first water, trickling retinal patterns like the strongest hallucinogen to the trip-kicking music. Not that drugs are necessary; it’s far more a state of mind on offer through the combination of light and sonic textures – or Colour, Sound, Oblivion as the flashed-up message

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Coil – Musick To Play In The Dark, Volume 2

Label: Chalice Format: CD,2LP

Coil - Musick To Play In The Dark, Volume 21. As I reclined in my sketchy little world and allowed the gasses to go to my head, I became overpowered with the notion that I was being carried away. Silly flashes of Communion-like images of alien beings lifting me and placing me against soft chrome and spraying my skin black metallic and an underlying fear that maybe, just maybe this could all mean harm. Deliciously un-bothered, past that first tiny stab, I relented and realized that my ideas of invasion and possession are only valid at the movies, or at least where the victim might be unwilling to participate. Still I knew that I was away and gone from my world into another. There was comfort

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Cornucopea – Two South Bank Evenings With Julian Cope

Anal; Ash Ra Tempel; Brain Donor; Coil; Julian Cope; Groundhogs; Kid Strange; Queen Elizabeth The South Bank Centre, London 1st-2nd April 2000

Since this two-day festival in the South Bank Centre is essentially Julian Cope‘s entry in the venue’s largely excellent series of Mini-Meltdowns, it probably comes as no surprise that he is seemingly omnipresent, playing solo twice, and collaboratively in the guise of both Brain Donor and Queen Elizabeth. This could easily have been something of an ordeal for those not of the fanlike persuasion for this most eccentric and Rock of eccentric Rock stars, but thankfully there was much to be admired and enjoyed at Cornucopea – the brightly psychedelic esoteric symbolism on dispay in the foyer of the Queen Elizabeth Hall on the first night (all too appropriately run on All Fool’s Day); the marvellously Tardis-sized starry-print, fake-fur Disco booth of the Miniscule Of Sound, a superb

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Coil – Queens Of The Circulating Library

Label: Eskaton Format: CDS

Coil - Queens Of The Circulating LibraryImmediately the title conjours images of Thighpaulsandra and John Balance driving across the wetlands of Wessex in a peripatetic wagon filled with books and synthesizers. Perhaps this is how this CD was recorded after all – it sounds as if they were spiralling though an electromagnetic storm of drones, a whirlpool of oscillator eddies, and squall of electricity. As they pass over the marshes and into the woods, a commanding presence arrives – the titular Queen herself, berating, scolding and fulminating on the lack of returns of books to her library, the passing of the lender’s, if not the volumes’, expiry date, all delivered by Dorothy Lewis with the pitch-shift and timestretched ring of otherwordly possession.

The atmosphere created on this release is one

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Coil – Musick To Play In The Dark

Label: Chalice Format: CD, LP

Coil - Musick To Play In The DarkCoil have been on a long strange journey into a peculiarly English Pagan folk music, at once urban and ancient, Modern and eternal – and the recent addition of Thighpaulsandra to their collective (un)consciousness has only made things more intriguing. His main contribution to this latest mail-order only album shines through on the Ashra (or even Tangerine Dream…)-like electronic headtrip of the evocatively-titled “Red Birds Will Fly Out of the East and Destroy Paris in a Night” – a piece which shows once again the fun and frolics which can come from the use of simple drum-machine rhythms.

World weary is possibly not the description for Jhon Balance‘s vocals on this recording – more like world-curious, as he wonders “Are you

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