Wednesday, February 15, 2006

We're Going Under...

Coil - The Auto-Asphyxiating Hierophant

This keeps happening. I start off with the intention of writing about one thing and end up somewhere else entirely. This time it was going to be Dionne Warwick's version of the Previn/Previn song, "(Theme From) The Valley Of The Dolls", which has to be the most dignified number about losing it that I've ever heard. For some reason it made me think about Coil. Maybe "losing it" is the connection here.

Lost and gone, sadly - John Balance's death affected a great many people, myself included. At first I thought this was peculiar, given I had really heard very little of them since "Horse Rotorvator", which was a very, very long time ago when anything and anybody in any way connected with Psychic TV's album "Dreams Less Sweet" was sure to sweep onto my radar. But then I realised just how much that material had moulded me, and it made sense that I cared.

"Industrial" was never a particularly useful genre label, was it. By the time you got to alternative mainstream acts like Nine Inch Nails, most of the original perpetrators had moved on to far more interesting hybrids. I remember seeing Psychic TV down London around the time of the "Jack The Tab" album and being amazed at the variety of people there. Sure, you had the TOPY, but there was the rave crowd, intense young men, slightly less intense older people who mostly wore glasses and looked like they wrote for Fortean Times, full blown occult types and scruffy students like myself. Black was certainly not the only colour.

Ditto Coil's "Moon’s Milk (In Four Phases)", the collected solstice & equinox eps. I knew I wasn't going to get two hours of concrete mixer, but I wasn't what you would call prepared. So many highlights reveal themselves over the span of it. Here are a few of them: the analogue scatter and howling voice on "Regel": the beautiful, drifting trawl of voices on "Rosa Decidua": the solemnity of "Summer Substructures": the downright odd dialogue with synth that is "Glowworms/Waveforms": and my favourite, "The Auto-Asphyxiating Hierophant". Which I'm not even going to attempt to describe. It's that good.

I think this is what you would call a "rewarding" release - you might not get it first time, but if you have any sense of how liberating strangeness can be, you'll love it by the third spin. And there is a real sense of "eyes closed hand on heart this is what we are despite the world" going on, which must be defended to the death.

I've no doubt slapping the title into google will result in you getting sucked into the debate about what it all means, and more importantly, what it all means to people on a personal level. I cannot think how that can be anything other than good. Time for me to stop.

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