July 03, 2004


Can anyone help? I've heard one or two Coil tracks, and I want to explore them further but they've got so many albums I don't know where to start. Any recommendations?

Also, are there any good introductory articles on them available on the internet?

Posted by mark at July 3, 2004 06:37 PM | TrackBack

I'd recommend some later Coil for the superb, subtle glitchiness: Musick To Play In The Dark vols 1 and 2 are pretty evocative. For some reason they remind me of The Dreaming and Hounds Of Love. Or, if you want to chart the progression from TG and Psychic TV days, then maybe proceed chronologically from Scatology onwards...

Not an online source, but there's a very good article on Coil by Ian Penman in Wire no. 194 (April 2000). The Brainwashed Coil site holds quite a lot of information, too: http://www.brainwashed.com/coil

Posted by: Janne at July 3, 2004 07:10 PM

love's secret domain and stolen and contaminated are two good records

Posted by: matt d at July 3, 2004 07:47 PM

They're pretty astonishing live too...saw them at Camber last year...one of the most trippiest things I've ever seen in my life considering I was straight at the time. The light show and the frequencies in the music seemed to bring on a weird dream-like trance. Some of their fans are a bit hardcore too. I bought their early industrial stuff when it came out back in the eighties... then lost track of them over the yearsm but I was pleasantly surprised how they'd changed and developed...a very dreamy, drifting sound; far more subtle than they used to be. I've been copping CDs off friends and working my way backwards. (I'm a vinyl anorak myself, but their stuff is near impossible to get on vinyl at affordable prices.) The Moon's Milk EPs/LPs are pretty good too. Maybe check out the book "England's Hidden Reverse" - haven't got it myself, but it's 'sposed to be pretty good.

Posted by: Kek-w at July 3, 2004 07:49 PM

You really need to get one of those fitted by a doctor Mark... heh heh

Ooh that was dire.

Posted by: Philip at July 3, 2004 11:42 PM

You need to ask Johneffay about this - I think he was lately posting as 'Sad old Punk'. But hopefully he'll come across this request himself. I like Coil. Especially 'Horse Rotavator'. And I saw them at ATP. The straitjacket was very good.

Posted by: infinitethought at July 4, 2004 02:28 AM

I'm no expert where Coil is concerned, but "Horse Rotorvator" is a good starting place...

Posted by: Ryan at July 4, 2004 08:51 AM

Horse Rotorvator is the best one for "songs". LSD is also well worth it for dancey stuff, but more importantly for the atmospheric tracks. No idea about more recent stuff :-)

There's an interview with the on uncarved.org also...

Posted by: john eden at July 4, 2004 01:40 PM

i'm a Coil fans and connoseur, but they are (where?) the most frustrating group when to relase records. I always think they need an "editor", since most of their CDs are a mess of really great pieces of music and really crappy ones. Also is 20 years of Coil and this didn't help newscomers. Also many great pieces are even not on the official albums but dispersed in various format or under various alias...

ok: there is a double cd compilation called "the golden hare and the voice of silver", is not omnicomprensive (where the fuck are windowpaine or the snow?....)but as a start it help. it gives a idea of various phases of coil output (except their most experimental one) and all tracks are very good.

then you can choose. about the recent output, the two volumes of MTPITD are very good, but I prefer the collection of the singles solestice/equinox: "Moon Milk" with gems like "amethist deceivers" or "christmas is drawing near" and some great electroacustic magic alchemy rituals inprovisations.
The 3 most accomplished (no filler) Coil albums where issued under differents name in the '90.
Elph - Worship the Glitch is instrumental esoteric glitch music
in 1996, years before glitch music becomes a genre, this is for lovers of electroacustic music
Time Machine is the best (psychedelic deranged) drones album i ever heard, this is for La Monte Young lovers
1997 Black Light Distric - "a million light in a dark room" is arguably this phase masterpiece: a hypnagogic mess, which crosses both to past and to future Coil music, it's the one to pick after the compilation (highlights: return to see the land, blue rats, chalice)
First ten years of Coil, they were a Dark/industrial gothic affair. Some highlight of Scatology and Horse Rotorvator are in the aforementioned compilation, but incredibly the compilation miss the best track from Scatology (ubu noir, cathedrals in flames, sewage workers birthday party) and from Horse (their masterpiece song "Blood from the Air"). Those two album are ruined by some very awful filler tracks.
The extasy Coil of first '90. Wish they had made an album with: teenage lighting, the snow (deep psychedelic techno), the river, windowpaine, further back and faster (all from Love Secret Domain), Nasa Arab, First Dark Ride, Protection, The Hills are alive, Philm (those all sadly dispersed in various odds and sods collections).
Those are the albums or tracks to search first. I wish in the future they will arrange their music output better. For the moment avoid anything else unless you become a fans. Anyway avoid the Hellraiser unreleased theme like hell: Coil at their worst.
Hope it help.


Posted by: francesco at July 5, 2004 02:04 AM

I'm no connaisseur but i'd recommend Horse Rotorvator. It has everything (i.e. a Leonard Cohen cover, a tribute to Pier Paolo Pasolini and a song called The anal staircase). They did it for Some Bizarre and Almond is a guest vocalist. If you're in for some dark techno pop, that's the one.
Curiosuly enough today I found a guy on soulseek that had every single album but Chris & Cosey and I didn't know what to download. According to AMG, Songs of love & lust is the one. What dou you think? (songs and technopop ARE my cup of tea)

Posted by: Hernan at July 5, 2004 05:11 AM

If Coil need an editor, Psychic TV need some kind of textual butcher, imho :-)

Part of the fun is always unpicking it for yourself, though. It was all gripping stuff when at 18 years old you bunked off school and went down to Rough Trade in Ladbroke Grove to buy "Gold is the Metal" and sent off for zines with interviews in, and spent ages poring over the sleevenotes for other pieces to fit into the jigsaw...

Posted by: john eden at July 5, 2004 09:26 AM

Depends whether you like their more dance orientated stuff or not. Some people claim that Love's Secret Domain is a masterpiece, but I think that it's distinctly average. Windowpane and The Snow could be any average techno band.

The Gold/Silver compilations are quite good and very up to date, but the three Unnatural History compilations are much better. They also contain a large percentage of material which you won't be able to get elsewhere. My personal favourites are Horse Rotorvator, Black Light District (a side project), Moon's Milk, Time Machines, and Live 4. Obviously you should get them all, but the ones to get last are LSD, Worship the Glitch, and Astral Disaster.

If you're feeling cheap, there's a bootleg of the Sonar 2000 gig (featuring William Breeze of OTO fame on viola!) availbale here: http://kaaos.org/coil/

Posted by: johneffay at July 5, 2004 09:52 AM

Dear John Eden, I picked "Gold is the metal" when I was, if memory serves, 19, and every Coil, C93 and NWW new records was a so exiting magical arcana pieces to listen carefully and talk with friends for nights and nights (and i lived in sicily, not london!)... now i'm fucking near 34 and overdrowned with stuff... some of the magic has gone but they still (coil and friends) created some of their best music in recent years, i only wish their discography is not so confused (c93 discography is even more messy... psychic TV never mind... (and sadly there is a decent amount of very great music lost in the silly amount of records GPO put out...))

Dear Johneffay I listened mainly to house and techno in the '90 and, for what i know, no way The Snow and Windowpaine are average techno. The latter is not even techno... please if you know techno artists that sounds like The Snow or Nasa Arab or Hills Are Alive let me know their names, i will rush to the records shop (more digit the url of some record store...). The 3 old Unnatural Hystory compilations of odds and sods and rare stuff are very hit and miss and confused and frankly only for fans (like me). The second one have the aforementioned Hellraiser themes so is half shit.


Posted by: francesco at July 5, 2004 10:39 AM

Thanks everyone!

What do ppl think of Dave Keenan's book btw?

Posted by: at July 5, 2004 10:46 AM

I find the earliest records fairly uninteresting ("Scatology" is dull and "Horse Rotorvator", despite the hosannas, never did much for me) - I tend to think that Coil blossomed thanks to their dancefloor epiphany - "Love's Secret Domain" is a blinding record, but even better is the "Nasa Arab/First Dark Ride" etc. stuff - incredible psychoactive house. Between that era, the much-overlooked yet incredibly beautiful "The Angelic Conversation" (p'haps my fave Coil album?), the Equinox EPs, and the liminal drone records ("Worship The Glitch" and "Time Machines" both utterly sublime), + a few cuts from "Musick to Play in the Dark Vol 1"... Great stuff.

Keenan's book is a blast but of course I am biased. He's a bit sniffly about the dance era, but that won't surprise anyone who knows Keenan's aesthetic. It's a great read. I seem to recall John Eden posting a pretty good wrap-up of the text at Uncarved - mebbe check his archives?

I would agree w/Brunetti - all of these artists need to develop/refine their quality control, but Coil I find a lot less sticky than C93 and NWW - Psychic TV of course are astoundingly patchy, but let's not forget the amount of uninteresting live Gristle there is out there... Still, if you haven't heard PTV's "Dreams Less Sweet"... Make sure you do at your soonest convenience.

Posted by: jwd at July 5, 2004 11:44 AM

The Keenan book is really good, but I just wish SAF would do it in paperback without the CD so it's a sensible price. I had to borrow Dubversion's copy, but I'm really glad I did.

Francesco - yeah, that intensity at the time was amazing. I lost track of Coil after LSD and now find myself needing to backtrack...

Posted by: john eden at July 5, 2004 12:11 PM

Hi Francesco. It's all horses, for courses. As I intimated, I'm not that interested in dance music, so Coil's descent into psychoactive house doesn't do much for me. The Hellraiser themes on the other hand...

I was heavily into Coil until LSD, but gave up on them at that point. I became interested again when the Equinox eps came out and bought up everything I'd missed. I still don't play LSD very much though.

I think that you're being a bit hard on the Unnatural Histories: As you say yourself, the 'real' albums can be pretty patchy, and the stuff on UH 1-3 can hardly be desribed as just odds and sods. 'First Dark Ride' is on UH3 for a start!

Mark, you've probably spotted by now that Coil's stuff is so varied that even people who are heavily into them argue about its relative merits.

Posted by: johneffay at July 5, 2004 12:35 PM

Dear Johneffay that's true, every Coil listener seem to agree that some Coil stuff is some of the greatest stuff ever made and some other stuff is crap, even on the same album... but then they does not agree on what is what (personal taste, obvious!)
on a last note I love the Unnatural Hystory CDs more than many others Coil CDs, simply i don't consider them as a good recomendation for a start, also because they are almost tracks from the first decade of Coil, so tells half the story... in fact Coil fans are starving for a volume 4 and a volume 5!
ciao da francesco

Posted by: francesco at July 5, 2004 12:49 PM

unnatural history volume 1
lsd/stolen and contaminated songs
worship the glitch
black light district

I think there are tons of albums worth checking, but these are probably my favorites.

Posted by: jd at July 5, 2004 04:56 PM

The first thing you need to do is head over to my blog and listen to the industrial mix. It has some key Coil tracks on there: How to Destroy Angels and The Sewage Workers' Birthday Party, and it sets them in a context. I was a teenage Coil fan, and I (and John) lived and breathed industrial culture for a long time so it is at least informed, if not definitive.

Album-wise the obvious recommendations are Scatology and Horse Rotorvator. They're the best-focused, most fully realised records; they don't have filler so much as incidental tracks (Clap etc) that build the mood. Rotorvator is immensely romantic and lyrical and deeply evocative of the queer, heathen English (and Italian!) countryside.

I personally wouldn't bother with too much of the dance stuff and find L:S:D: far too scatter-brained. But do check out Hellraiser. And Psychic TV's Dreams Less Sweet, on which both Peter and Geoff appear, and which is undoubtedly PTV's most impactful record.

England's Secret Reverse seems good, but I've only flicked through it at John's.

Posted by: paul "Essex boy" meme at July 5, 2004 08:33 PM


Didn't realise so many k-p readers are Coil afficianados (though I guess I had an instinct that this was the case, hence my asking).

Paul, you certainly make a great case for Horse Rotorvator.... queer heathen English countryside - yehhhhhhh!

Posted by: mark at July 5, 2004 09:59 PM

There are 2 cds you should get, a guide for beginners anda guide for finishers -avaliable here:

http://www.thresholdhouse.com/newcurrent.html the pair at 23.00


Posted by: mms at July 6, 2004 11:46 AM

Get Scatology and Love's Secret Domain, they're definitely the high points. LSD is one of the most amazing albums ever made, a whole 16,000 word blog couldn't even convey how stunning the first three songs are. For me, those two albums are the unbridled sound of wanton desire, violent retribution, spirals twisting into hospital swab-stain skies, lucid dreams and dark parks, a fucking fantastic ride. GET THEM!! And remember, it's only lightning.

Posted by: Martin at July 8, 2004 08:29 PM

Hey Jd you still have the industrial mix online, could you share the address? I also did a recent mix with some Chris and cosey, blackhouse, click click, portion control,biosphere, fad gadget and others which i plan posting once i get my account to work well, thanks and take care

Posted by: Fruta enchilada at July 30, 2004 12:39 AM