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Music / Coil

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"COIL know how to destroy Angels. How to paralyse. Imagine the world in a bottle. We take the bottle, smash it, and open your throat with it. I warn you we are Murderous. We massacre the logical revolts. We know everything! We know one thing only. Absolute existence, absolute motion, absolute direction, absolute Truth. NOW, HERE, US."
The Coil Manifesto, "The Price Of Existence Is Eternal Warfare"

From former Psychic TV member Geoff Rushton, aka Jhonn (spelling varies) Balance and its founder Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson (also a former member of Throbbing Gristle and the art studio Hipgnosis) came the experimental band Coil.

Formed in 1982, and disbanded in 2004, following Balance's untimely death. Masters of the industrial genre, Coil went on to define (and re-define) several aspects of the genre over their career. Christopherson was involved in creating one of the first samplers, which ended up being used extensively on their 1991 album Love's Secret Domain. Coil came to mainstream prominence through their remixes of Nine Inch Nails songs in the mid-'90s. Their debut single "How to Destroy Angels" later became the title of NIN frontman Trent Reznor's second band (which Christopherson approved the use of.) Coil's influence is felt across the world of electronic and experimental music, from Autechre to Sonic Youth.

Not to be confused to those other bands who use the word "Coil" in the band names (and there are a lot of them).

Selected Discography:

  • Scatology (1984)
  • Horse Rotorvator (1986)
  • Love's Secret Domain (1991)
  • Astral Disaster (1999)
  • Musick to Play in the Dark (1999)
  • Queens of the Circulating Library (2000)
  • Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil (2000)
  • Musick to Play in the Dark 2 (2000)
  • Moon's Milk (in four phases) (2002)
  • The Remote Viewer (2002)
  • The Golden Hare with a Voice of Silver (2002)
  • ANS (2004)
  • Black Antlers (2004)
  • The Ape of Naples (2005)
  • The New Backwards (2008)
  • Backwards (2015)

Tropes present in this band's works:

  • Ambient: Most of their later works dabbled in this.
  • Arc Words: Horse Rotorvator: "The World Turning"
    • The Solar Music era: "This Is The Dark Age of Love"
    • "Stevø, Pay Us What You Owe Us!" for a series of (largely unauthorised) reissues.
    • The Ape of Naples and other posthumous releases: "It Just Is"
  • Artistic Stimulation: Coil regularly experimented with drugs and created music inspired by (and under the influence of) their effects:
    • The album Love's Secret Domain contained the singles "The Snow" (cocaine) and "Windowpane" (LSD).
    • Their drone music album Time Machines contained four pieces designed to "induce time travel" with each of the four drugs they were based on: Telepathine, DOET / Hecate, 5-MeO-DMT, and Psylocybin. The band claimed they vigorously tested each track for maximum potency.
  • Astral Projection / Mental Time Travel: The goal of the Time Machines album was to create music that, when listened to while tripping on the drugs each song is named for, would induce this.
  • Careful with That Axe: John could really scream if he needed to.
  • The Cover Changes the Meaning: Coil's cover of "Tainted Love" made it an HIV / AIDS anthem.
  • Creepy Monotone: The sheer range of expression behind Jhonn's voice also extended to a killer flat affect.
  • Drone of Dread: Much of their material could qualify, but Time Machines and Musick to Play in the Dark stand out as being particularly unsettling.
  • Drunken Song: "Heartworms:"
    "There's too much blood in my alcohol..."
  • Fun with Acronyms: Love's Secret Domain and the remix of "The Snow" called "Answers Come in Dreams."
  • Greatest Hits Album: The Golden Hare with a Voice of Silver
  • Higher Understanding Through Drugs: A recurring motif in their work, most prominently Time Machines (wherein the four tracks were named for the drugs the listener was encouraged to take to them) and Love's Secret Domain (the title aside, individual tracks discussed using cocaine and LSD to this end).
  • Lighter and Softer: Averted: the chugging, muddy industrial rhythms of their early albums eventually gave way to dark ambient soundscapes, which were no less frightening.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: Several of their later works seemed to observe this fact.
  • Off the Wagon: John periodically had problems with alcohol addiction. The 1998 compilation Foxtrot was released to pay for his rehab. His death was caused by falling off a balcony in a drunken stupor.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Clive Barker originally wanted them to compose the music for Hellraiser. They obliged, but their score was rejected.
    • Their compilation Unnatural History III contains a 12 minute track of some of the advertising jingles they created in their early years.
    • They scored an educational film titled The Gay Man's Guide to Safer Sex.
  • Rearrange the Song: Many early songs were entirely re-worked for later live performances, as showcased on their four live albums released in 2003.
    • An entire album's worth of material was recorded in the early '90s under the title of Backwards. The album was originally going to be released on Nine Inch Nails' label Nothing Records, but was ultimately shelved for a decade. Re-recorded and re-worked versions appeared on The Ape of Naples, and then later as a fully developed stand alone release titled The New Backwards. Seven years later, the original material saw release, courtesy of a surviving member of personnel.
    • For a reasonably good summary of Coil's career, check out the original version of "Teenage Lightning" from 1991's Love's Secret Domain, then the 10th Birthday Version from 2004's Black Antlers.
  • Ritual Magic: Coil were practicers. Their first single "How to Destroy Angels" came with the subtitle: "Ritual music for the accumulation of male sexual energy." Live performances incorporated wands and scrying mirrors, amongst other objects.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: The group's first concert was built around one Marc Almond had prepared against his ex.
  • Three Minutes of Writhing: The video to "Love's Secret Domain," shot in a Thai strip club.
  • We All Die Someday: Human Mortality is a recurring theme in their works, such as "Amethyst Deceivers:"
    Pay your respect to the vultures
    For they are your future