Coil (band)

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Coil band.jpg
Coil, circa 2004.
Left to right: John Balance, Peter Christopherson
Background information
Also known asBlack Light District, ELpH, Time Machines, Sickness of Snakes, The Eskaton
OriginLondon, England
Years active19822004
Associated acts
Past members John Balance
Peter Christopherson
Stephen Thrower
Drew McDowall
William Breeze
Ossian Brown

Coil were an experimental music group, founded in 1982 in London, England and concluded in 2005. Initially envisioned as a solo project by singer and songwriter John Balance (born Geoffrey Burton) while he was in the band Psychic TV, Coil evolved into a full-time project with the addition of artistic creative partner Peter Christopherson, a founding member of Industrial Records and pioneering Industrial music group Throbbing Gristle, who also became Balance's life-partner. Throughout the group's existence, Balance and Christopherson were the only constant members; other members and contributors included Stephen Thrower, Danny Hyde, Drew McDowall, William Breeze, Thighpaulsandra (Tim Lewis), and Ossian Brown (Simon Norris).

Experimental music is a general label for any music that pushes existing boundaries and genre definitions. Experimental compositional practice is defined broadly by exploratory sensibilites radically opposed to, and questioning of, institutionalized compositional, performing, and aesthetic conventions in music. Elements of experimental music include indeterminate music, in which the composer introduces the elements of chance or unpredictability with regard to either the composition or its performance. Artists may also approach a hybrid of disparate styles or incorporate unorthodox and unique elements.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom, with the largest municipal population in the European Union. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

England Country in north-west Europe, part of the United Kingdom

England is a country that is part of the United Kingdom. It shares land borders with Wales to the west and Scotland to the north. The Irish Sea lies west of England and the Celtic Sea to the southwest. England is separated from continental Europe by the North Sea to the east and the English Channel to the south. The country covers five-eighths of the island of Great Britain, which lies in the North Atlantic, and includes over 100 smaller islands, such as the Isles of Scilly and the Isle of Wight.


After the release of their 1984 debut EP How to Destroy Angels , Coil joined Some Bizzare Records, through which they released two full-length albums, Scatology (1984) and Horse Rotorvator (1986). After departing from Some Bizzare, Coil had established their own record label, Threshold House, through which they produced and released Love's Secret Domain (1991), which saw the duo incorporate the influence of the UK acid house scene. Financial difficulties slowed the group’s work in the early 1990s before they returned to the project on releases such as Astral Disaster (1999), and the Musick to Play in the Dark series composed of Vol. 1 (1999) and Vol. 2 (2000), as well as releasing several projects under aliases. [7]

<i>How to Destroy Angels</i> (Coil EP) 1984 EP by Coil

How to Destroy Angels is the debut extended play by British experimental band Coil. At this point, the group consisted only of John Balance and Peter Christopherson. It was originally released in 1984 on L.A.Y.L.A.H. Antirecords, but was later re-pressed in 1988.

Some Bizzare Records British record label

Some Bizzare [sic] Records was a British independent record label owned by Stevo Pearce. The label was founded in 1981, with the release of Some Bizzare Album, a compilation of unsigned bands including Depeche Mode, Soft Cell, The The, Neu Electrikk and Blancmange.

<i>Scatology</i> (album) 1984 studio album by Coil

Scatology is the debut full-length studio album by British experimental band Coil. It was recorded at various studios in London during 1984 and produced by the band along with JG Thirlwell; the album features a prominent appearance of Stephen Thrower, who subsequently became Coil's official member since their next studio album, Horse Rotorvator. The album focuses on alchemy, mainly an idea of turning base matter into gold. The record contains a wide array of cultural references, including personnel such as Marquis de Sade, Alfred Jarry, Salvador Dalí, Charles Manson, and others.

In 1985, the group began working on a series of soundtracks, among them music for the first Hellraiser movie based on the novel The Hellbound Heart by their acquaintance at that time, Clive Barker, although they were rejected. The group's first live performance in 16 years occurred in 1999, and began a series of mini-tours that would last until 2004. [8] Following the death of John Balance on 13 November 2004, Christopherson announced via their official record label website Threshold House that Coil as an entity had ceased to exist, and after working on the record's content to his extent officially ended the Coil discography with The Ape of Naples (2005).

<i>The Unreleased Themes for Hellraiser</i> 1987 EP by Coil

The Unreleased Themes for Hellraiser was the fourth album that Coil released in 1987. The album was released on CD, cassette and 10″ vinyl. It was the proposed soundtrack to the film Hellraiser, however was turned down because it was not considered commercial enough.

<i>Hellraiser</i> 1987 horror film directed by Clive Barker

Hellraiser is a 1987 British supernatural horror film written and directed by Clive Barker, and produced by Christopher Figg, based on Barker's novella The Hellbound Heart. The film marked Barker's directorial debut. The film involves the resurrection of Frank, who had opened the door to an alternate dimension and had his body torn to pieces by creatures known as Cenobites. Years later, Frank's brother Larry moves into their late mother's abandoned house with new wife Julia. An accident causes some of Larry's blood to spill on the attic floor, which triggers Frank's resurrection. To complete his resurrection, he requires more blood which Julia provides while Kirsty Cotton, Larry's daughter, discovers Frank's puzzlebox which leads her to meet with the Cenobites, led by Pinhead.

<i>The Hellbound Heart</i> novel by Clive Barker

The Hellbound Heart is a horror novella by Clive Barker, first published in November 1986 by Dark Harvest in the third volume of his Night Visions anthology series, and notable for becoming the basis for the 1987 film Hellraiser and its franchise. It was re-released as a stand-alone title by HarperCollins in 1988, after the success of the movie, along with an audiobook recorded by Clive Barker and published by Simon & Schuster Audioworks. It retains the gory, visceral style that Barker introduced in his series of collected short stories The Books of Blood. The story focuses on a mystical puzzle box and the horror it wreaks on a family that is unfortunate enough to come across it.


1982–1983: Formation and early years

In 1978, John Balance (born Geoff[rey] Burton; also known as Rushton, by his stepfather's surname) was a teenage zine journalist, writing—along with his schoolmate Tom Craig, a grandson of Edward Carrick and grand-grandson of Edward Gordon Craig—under a moniker Stabmental , through which he published the articles on UK underground artists, including seminal industrial bands Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire. [9] A Throbbing Gristle fan, Balance had contacted them via mail, and thus befriended the Throbbing Gristle frontman Genesis P-Orridge. [10] In February 1980, Balance had attended a Throbbing Gristle gig recorded and released as Heathen Earth , where he had first met P-Orridge's bandmate Peter Christopherson and befriended him as well. [11]

Edward Carrick was an English art designer for film, an author and illustrator.

Edward Gordon Craig Modernist stage designer and theatre director

Edward Henry Gordon Craig, sometimes known as Gordon Craig, was an English modernist theatre practitioner; he worked as an actor, director and scenic designer, as well as developing an influential body of theoretical writings. Craig was the son of actress Dame Ellen Terry.

Stabmental was a British DIY music and cultural fanzine published in the late 1970s and early 1980s covering industrial and postpunk music and the cassette scene. The moving force, main editor and writer of the publication was Geoffrey Rushton, who would later assume the name John Balance and become known as singer and lyricist of the influential postindustrial band Coil. Balance was still at school during most of the period of the magazine’s publication, though he would continue to publish the magazine for a short period after leaving and before his career in music began to take off. The other founding editor was a school friend of Balance’s, Tom Craig. The magazine included interviews with, articles on and reviews of releases and performances by many leading alternative bands and solo artists of the time, such as: Throbbing Gristle, Cabaret Voltaire, SPK, Virgin Prunes, Alternative TV, Eyeless in Gaza, Monte Cazazza, and participants in the so-called ‘cassette culture’, such as: The Door and the Window, The Good Missionaries, Cultural Amnesia. The magazine also featured drawings and collages by Balance, sometimes employing the pseudonym Murderwerkers.

Following the dissolution of Throbbing Gristle in 1981, P-Orridge, Christopherson, and Alex Fergusson (formerly of Alternative TV) went on to form the new project, titled Psychic TV, along with the accompanying fellowship titled Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth. [12] Balance, who had attended the University of Sussex for a short time and participated in Brian Williams' Lustmord project, [13] returned in London to live with Christopherson—with whom a romantic partnership had begun. [14] As a Psychic TV member, Balance participated in the recording of the single "Just Drifting" (from the album Force the Hand of Chance ) and, the following year, of the album Dreams Less Sweet . [15]

Alex Fergusson is a Scottish guitarist / record producer.

Alternative TV band

Alternative TV are an English band formed in London in 1977. Author Steve Taylor writes: "Alternative TV pioneered reggae rhythms in punk and then moved on to redefine the musical rules".

Psychic TV British-American multimedia collective

Psychic TV is an English experimental video art and music group, formed by performance artist Genesis P-Orridge and Scottish musician Alex Fergusson in 1981 after the break-up of Throbbing Gristle.

Already having an experience of performing and recording previous to his tenure in Psychic TV, Balance went on to use the name Coil in 1982, originally envisioned for a solo project. [16] [7] [17] In 1983, Balance wrote a manifesto titled The Price Of Existence Is Eternal Warfare and sent a tape of the song "On Balance", dated 5 May 1982, [18] to Gary Levermore's label Third Mind Records for an inclusion on a compilation album Rising From The Red Sand; Levermore, however, had rejected the track. [19] Despite this, Balance had recorded three more new tracks—"S for Sleep", "Red Weather", and "Here to Here (Double Headed Secret)"—on 11 May 1983. [20] [21] On 4 August 1983, Coil—as the duo of Balance and Christopherson—had played its first gig in London at the Magenta Club, during a screening of films by Cerith Wyn Evans and Derek Jarman. [20] [19] Since Christopherson's commitments for Psychic TV—in which he had become disillusioned due to growing conflict with P-Orridge—still limited his participation in Coil, Balance approached John Gosling—also Psychic TV member who fronted his own project Zos Kia—to work with. Balance's and Gosling's collaboration resulted in the next three gigs during 1983, with the last one being performed in December on Berlin Atonal festival, where Balance participated as both Psychic TV and Coil member. The recordings from aforementioned gigs, as well as "On Balance", were later included on Zos Kia/Coil split album Transparent , released in February 1984 by Austrian label Nekrophile Records. [18] [22] [23] [24] Since January 1984, Balance and Christopherson had departed from Psychic TV and the Temple of Psychic Youth, in order to make Coil as a full-time concern. [20] [25]

Third Mind Records British independent record label

Third Mind Records was a British independent record label, founded in February 1983 by Gary Levermore.

Cerith Wyn Evans is a Welsh conceptual artist, sculptor and film-maker. In 2018 he won the £30,000 Hepworth Prize for Sculpture.

Derek Jarman British film director and artist

Michael Derek Elworthy Jarman was an English film director, stage designer, diarist, artist, gardener, and author.

1984–1986: How to Destroy Angels and Some Bizzare years

The band's official recording debut, an extended play titled How to Destroy Angels , was released on the Good Friday (20 April) of 1984 by a Belgian-based label L.A.Y.L.A.H. Antirecords. [13] :49 [26] Recorded on 19 February 1984 at Britannia Row Studios, the album was dedicated to Mars as the god of spring and war, using predominantly iron and steel instruments. [20] [27] [28]

Shortly after in May 1984, Coil went on to record their first full-length studio album, eventually titled Scatology , approaching JG Thirlwell as a co-producer and co-composer; [29] several others contributors, including Stephen Thrower, Alex Fergusson and Gavin Friday, took part in its recording. [30] Scatology’s themes echoed those of How to Destroy Angels, while focusing mainly on alchemy as an idea of transforming matter. [31]

Scatology was released in early 1985 with a 1984 copyright date by the band's own label, Force & Form, and K.422 (a Some Bizzare Records sublabel), to mainly positive feedback. Shortly after, the single "Panic/Tainted Love" was released, with the profits being donated to the Terrence Higgins Trust; [32] [33] hailed since then as the first AIDS benefit music release, it was supported with the "Tainted Love" video directed by Christopherson, which was purchased by The Museum of Modern Art in New York, U.S. [34] [35] [27] [36] [7]

Horse Rotorvator followed in 1986 as the next full-length release. Although songs such as "The Anal Staircase" and "Circles of Mania" sound like evolved versions of Scatology material, the album is characterized by slower tempos, and represented a new direction for the group. The album has a darker theme than previous releases, according to Balance:

Horse Rotorvator was this vision I'd had of this mechanical/flesh thing that ploughed up the earth and I really did have a vision of ita real horrible, burning, dripping, jaw-like vision in the night ... The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse killed their horses and use their jawbones to make this huge earth-moving machine." [37]

The artwork features a photograph of the location of a notorious IRA bombing, in which a bomb was detonated on a military orchestra pavilion. [34] Horse Rotorvator was in part influenced by the AIDS related deaths of some of their friends. [38] Furthermore, the song "Ostia (The Death of Pasolini)", is about the mysterious death of Pier Paolo Pasolini, as well as what Balance described as "the number one suicide spot in the world", the white cliffs of Dover. [39]

Gold Is the Metal... and Unnatural History (1986–1990)

After the release of Horse Rotorvator, Coil left Some Bizzare Records, since they fell out with its owner Stevo Pearce. [40] Gold Is the Metal with the Broadest Shoulders followed as a full-length release in 1987, marking the beginning of the band's own label, Threshold House—the album is described in the liner notes as "not the follow up to Horse Rotorvator, but a completely separate package – a stopgap and a breathing space - the space between two twins," which refers to Horse Rotorvator and Love's Secret Domain. [41]

The 13-track Unnatural History compilation was then released on Threshold House in 1990. The first three songs on the album were first released as one half of the Nightmare Culture mini-album. [42]

Love's Secret Domain (1991–1992)

Love's Secret Domain (abbreviated LSD) followed in 1991 as the next "proper" Coil album, although a few minor releases had been produced since Horse Rotorvator. LSD represents a progression in Coil's style and became a template for what would be representative of newer waves of post-industrial music, blended with their own style of acid house. [43] Although the album was more upbeat, it was not intended as a dance record, as Christopherson explained "I wouldn't say it's a party atmosphere, but it's more positive." [38] [44] "Windowpane" and a Jack Dangers remix of "The Snow" were released as singles, both of which had music videos directed by Christopherson. The video for "Windowpane" was shot in the Golden Triangle, where, Balance claimed, "the original Thai and Burmese drug barons used to exchange opium for gold bars with the CIA." [38] Christopherson recalled "John [Balance] discovered while he was performing that where he was standing was quicksand! In the video you can actually see him getting deeper and deeper." [38] Furthermore, Thai friends of the group commented that they had known of several people that died where Coil had shot footage for the music video. [38]

A music video for the song "Love's Secret Domain" was also shot, which was initially unreleased due to its nature: as Christopherson explained, "We shot 'Love's Secret Domain' in a go-go boy bar in Bangkok; with John [Balance] performing on stage with about 20 or 30 dancing boys, which probably won't get played on MTV, in fact!" [38] As of January 2015, the music video is viewable on more than one YouTube channel. [45] [46] Stolen & Contaminated Songs followed as a full-length release in 1992. However, as with Gold Is the Metal..., it is a collection of outtakes and demos from the LSD era. [47]

Soundtracks and side projects (1993–1998)

Coil separated their works into many side projects, publishing music under different names and a variety of styles. The pre-Coil aliases, Zos Kia and Sickness of Snakes, formed the foundation of a style that would evolve to characterize their initial wave of releases.

Before embarking on their second wave of side projects and pseudonyms, Coil created a soundtrack for the movie Hellraiser , although they withdrew from the project when they suspected their music would not be used. [48] Furthermore, Coil claimed inspiration for Pinhead was partly drawn from the piercing magazines that director Barker borrowed from the group. [48] Balance explained after the release of Stolen and Contaminated Songs, in around 1992:

Yeah it would have been brilliant but we wouldn’t have carried on, because they were changing everything and they weren’t being very nice to us, the actual film people. They were keeping us in the dark a lot. We said we’d had enough just at the same time they decided they wanted to use Howard Shore. They just wanted normal film music. They didn’t want anything too scary which is sad and ridiculous for a horror film. [47]

Also in 1992, Threshold House released a "Remixes And Re-Recordings" version of How to Destroy Angels. Nurse with Wound's Steven Stapleton contributed a remix of the song, "How To Destroy Angels II". [49]

In 1993, Coil contributed music to Derek Jarman's film Blue . Their 1985 score for Jarman's The Angelic Conversation was released on CD in 1994. In addition, they recorded soundtracks for the documentary Gay Man's Guide to Safer Sex as well as Sarah Dales Sensuous Massage, though both remain unreleased. [48]

Much like the pre-Coil aliases, Coil's series of side projects represented a diverse basis from which the group evolved a different style of sound. While Nasa Arab credited to the group's project "The Eskaton"was Coil's farewell to the acid house genre, the following projects, ELpH, Black Light District, and Time Machines, were all based heavily on experimentation with drone, an ingredient that would define Coil's following work. These releases also launched the start of Coil's new label Eskaton.

Transparent was reissued in CD format in 1997 on Threshold House. [50] A disc and booklet were packaged in a "thick" slipcase, which was released in partnership with the World Serpent music company. [51]

Late Coil (1998–2004)

After the wave of experimental side projects, Coil's sound was completely redefined. Before releasing new material, the group released the compilations Unnatural History II , Windowpane & The Snow and Unnatural History III . In March 1998, Coil began to release a series of four singles which were timed to coincide with the equinox and solstices of that year. The singles are characterized by slow, drone-like instrumental rhythms, and electronic or orchestral instrumentation. [52] The first single, Spring Equinox: Moon's Milk or Under an Unquiet Skull , featured two versions of the same song, the second version of which included an electric viola contribution from a newly inducted member, William Breeze. The second single, Summer Solstice: Bee Stings , also featured performances by Breeze, and also included the industrial-noise song "A Warning from the Sun (For Fritz)", which was dedicated to a friend of Balance and Christopherson's who had committed suicide earlier that year. [53] The third single, Autumn Equinox: Amethyst Deceivers includes the track "Rosa Decidua", which features vocals by Rose McDowall. The single also features the song "Amethyst Deceivers", later reworked and performed throughout most of Coil's tour—it was eventually re-made into an alternate version on the LP The Ape of Naples . The fourth single, Winter Solstice: North , also includes a track sung by McDowall, and is partially credited to the side project Rosa Mundi. The series would later be re-released as the double-CD set, Moon's Milk (In Four Phases) .

Astral Disaster was created with the assistance from new band member Thighpaulsandra, and was released in January 1999 via Sun Dial member Gary Ramon's label, Prescription. [54] Although the album was initially limited to just 99 copies, it would later be re-released in a substantially different form. Musick To Play In The Dark Vol. 1 followed in September 1999, and a few months later Coil performed their first concert in 16 years.

Queens Of The Circulating Library followed in April 2000, with production credit given to Thighpaulsandra. The single-track, full-length drone album is the only Coil release made without the assistance of Christopherson. Musick To Play In The Dark Vol. 2 followed in September 2000, and Coil began to perform live more intensively, a period that also included writing the music for Black Antlers in between a series of mini-tours. [55] Coil also released a series of live albums around this time. Constant Shallowness Leads To Evil , a noise-driven experimental album reminiscent of Christopherson's work with Throbbing Gristle, was first sold at a live performance in September 2000. Coil finally released Black Antlers in June 2004.

In contrast to many of their earlier releases, Coil's later material is characterized by a slower sound which relies more on drone than acid house. This change in sound was reflected in their live performances, as songs like "Ostia" and "Slur" were slowed down from their original pace, as well as re-recordings of "Teenage Lightning" and "Amethyst Deceivers" that were later released on The Ape Of Naples. [56]

Coil Live

Coil's live incarnation is associated with a distinct legacy. The first live shows took place in 1983, but after only four performances, 15 years would pass before they would play live again. [8]

On 14 December 1999, Coil performed elph.zwölf at Volksbuehne in Berlin. Although the performance lasted just under 18 minutes, it marked the beginning of a new era of live performances. Coil would go on to perform close to 50 additional concerts, with varied set lists as well as performers.

Coil performed twice at the Royal Festival Hall in 2000. The first concert was in April, as part of a weekend curated by Julian Cope, when they first performed as the full band line-up  and wearing the "fluffy suits" that would become a staple of live performances for the first time  performing Time Machines. They performed again in September, sharing a bill with Jim Thirlwell (as Foetus) on that occasion. Both performances were full sets.

Coil's performances were surrealistic visually and audibly. The signature fluffy suits, an idea inspired by Sun Ra, played a foremost role at the live shows. [57] The suits would later be used as album covers for the release Live One , while other costumes appear on the covers of Live Two and Live Three —straitjacket and mirror-chested hooded jumpsuit, respectively. Video screens projected footage and animations created by Christopherson, while fog machines created an eerie atmosphere. Balance would often screech and howl during performances, which would add to the effect.

The band's performance at the 2003 All Tomorrow's Parties festival was released as ...And the Ambulance Died in His Arms . Released on Threshold House in 2005 as a digipak, a Thai version was released the following year. ...And the Ambulance Died in His Arms was released under a name chosen by Balance before his death in November 2004. [58] [59]

Many Coil performances were released, including the widely available releases of Live Four , Live Three , Live Two , Live One and ...And The Ambulance Died In His Arms, as well as several very limited editions, such as Selvaggina, Go Back Into The Woods and Megalithomania! . Video recordings of several concerts were released on the DVD box set, Colour Sound Oblivion , in 2010. [60]

Coil's final performance was at DEAF (Dublin Electronic Arts Festival), Dublin City Hall in Ireland. [61]

Deaths of Balance and Christopherson

Balance died on 13 November 2004, after he fell from a second-floor landing in his home. Christopherson announced Balance's death on the Threshold House website, and provided details of the circumstances of the death. Balance's memorial service was held near Bristol on 23 November 2004, and was attended by approximately 100 people. [62]

The final studio album, The Ape of Naples, was released on 2 December 2005. In August 2006, the rare CD-R releases, The Remote Viewer and Black Antlers, were "sympathetically remastered" and expanded into two disc versions, which included new and recently remixed material. A comprehensive 16-DVD boxset, titled Colour Sound Oblivion , was released in July 2010. A "Patron Edition" was pre-orderable in November 2009 and sold out in three hours. Christopherson also discussed the possibility of releasing Coil's entire back catalogue on a single Blu-ray disc. [63]

In November 2006, the official Coil website posted the following announcement: "Following the success of Thai pressings of The Remote Viewer and Black Antlers, and after many requests, we are planning to expand the CD catalog still further." A few days later Duplais Balance and Moon's Milk In Six Phases were announced. [64] Furthermore, an expanded vinyl version of The Ape Of Naples, which includes the album The New Backwards has been released and a two disc version of Time Machines has been announced. [64]

Six years after the death of Balance, Christopherson died in his sleep on 24 November 2010 in Bangkok, Thailand. [65]


Style, instruments and creative methods

Coil worked in such genres as industrial, noise, ambient and dark ambient, neo-folk, spoken word, drone, and minimalism, treating their works more as magical rituals than as musical pieces; [66] Balance explicitly referred to this approach as "magickal music". [39] Balance described early Coil work as "solar" and the later work as "moon musick". [39] [67]

Coil incorporated many exotic and rare instruments into their recordings and performances. The group expressed particular interest in modular synthesizers, including the Moog synthesizer. [68] [69] Coil are among the few artists who have been granted permission to use the one-of-a-kind experimental ANS photoelectronic synthesizer (see ANS ). Other instruments the group incorporated into their music included the theremin and electronic shakuhachi. During Coil's later period, marimba player Tom Edwards joined the group, and performed on the live albums Live Two and Live Three, as well as on the studio album, The Ape of Naples.

Coil utilized techniques such as the cut-up technique, ritual drug use, sleep deprivation, lucid dreaming, granular synthesis, tidal shifts, John Dee-like methods of scrying, instrument glitches, SETI synchronization and chaos theory. [37] [38] [44] [63] [27] [70]

Limited editions

Coil's distribution and marketing techniques sometimes included releasing a limited number of albums, thereby making them collectors' items among fans. [71] Including things such as "art objects", blood stains and sigil-like autographs in the packaging of their albums, Coil claimed that this made their work more personal for true fans, turning their records into something akin to occult artifacts. [39] This practice was markedly increased in the later half of Coil's career. However, Balance expressed interest in having regular Coil albums in every shop that wanted them. [39] Some critics have accused Coil and its record company of price gouging. [72] In 2003, Coil began re-releasing many rare works, mostly remixed, into general circulation. [64] They also launched a download service, where a large amount of their out-of-print music is available.

Religious views

Coil held pagan and alchemical beliefs, as well as a fixation on chaos magic, but were sometimes labelled as Satanic. [70] [73] Balance explicitly referred to himself as a "Born Again Pagan", and described his paganism as a "spirituality within nature." [57] Christopherson, however, described the beliefs of Coil as unassociated:

We don't follow any particular religious dogma. In fact, quite the reverse, we tend to discourage the following of dogmas, or false prophets, as it were. And we don't have a very sympathetic view of Christians up to this point. The thing we follow is our own noses; I don't mean in a chemical sense. [38]


Influences and legacy

Although Coil expressed interest in many musical groups, they rarely, if ever, claimed to be influenced by them. Coil explicitly stated the influence of such non-musical sources as William Burroughs, Aleister Crowley, Brion Gysin and Austin Spare. [39] Furthermore, the group were friends with Burroughs and owned some of Spare's original artwork. [69]

Balance encouraged fans to trade, discuss and discover new and different forms of music, stressing the importance of variety. Music that Coil expressed interest in is diverse and wide-ranging, from musique concrète to folk music to hardcore punk to classical to techno. Among the musicians Coil expressed interest in were early electronic, experimental and minimalist artists: Harry Partch, La Monte Young, Karlheinz Stockhausen (once referred to by Balance as "an honorary member of Coil"), Alvin Lucier, and Arvo Pärt. [68] [78] [79] Coil also expressed interest in krautrock groups including Cluster, Amon Düül II, Can, Kraftwerk and Tangerine Dream. Rock musicians and groups Coil have expressed interest in are: Angus Maclise, Captain Beefheart, Flipper, Leonard Cohen, Lou Reed, Nico, Pere Ubu, The Birthday Party, The Velvet Underground and The Virgin Prunes. [39] [57] [68] [78] [79] [22] Coil expressed an interest in the Russian composer Igor Stravinsky, and used a sample from his ballet Rite of Spring on the Horse Rotorvator song "The Anal Staircase". [80] Furthermore, on the album Black Antlers Coil dedicated a song to Sun Ra and covered a song by Bam Bam. [81]

Coil's influence on electronic music has become more evident since the death of Balance, with electronic musicians from all over the world collaborating on a series of tribute albums. Some notable artists who appear on these albums are Alec Empire, Chris Connelly and K.K. Null (see ...It Just Is ). Nine Inch Nails frontman Trent Reznor also expressed the significant influence that the group had on his work in February 2014: [82]

[Coil's] 'Tainted Love' video remains one of the greatest music videos of all time. I was always more attracted to Coil than Throbbing Gristle; the darkness and the scatology really chimed with me. If it's not immediately obvious: Horse Rotorvator was deeply influential on me. What they did to your senses. What they could do with sound. What Jhonn was doing lyrically. The exotic darkness of them permeated their work. [83]

The track "At The Heart Of It All" (found on Scatology) later became the name of an Aphex Twin track on the Nine Inch Nails remix album Further Down the Spiral ; Coil also provided remixes for Further Down the Spiral as well as "Gave Up" on the remix album - Fixed (EP) . Furthermore, in 2010, Reznor, Mariqueen Maandig and Atticus Ross started a new band called How To Destroy Angels—named after the Coil song—which received Christopherson's blessing after Reznor made contact with him. [83] [84]


Coil's rapid musical output over two decades resulted in a large amount of releases, side projects and remixes as well as collaborations.

Primary, full-length, Coil studio albums

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John Balance English musician

Geoffrey Nigel Laurence Rushton, better known under the pseudonyms John Balance or the later variation Jhonn Balance, was an English musician, occultist, artist and poet. His early work and wide-ranging collaborations made him one of the most influential figures in the industrial, experimental minimalist and neofolk music scenes.

<i>Time Machines</i> 1998 studio album by Time Machines

Time Machines is a 1998 album by English experimental group Coil, originally released under the alias Time Machines. The album was created under the premise of drones named after hallucinogenic chemicals, "tested and retested" in the studio for apparent narcotic potency. Main member John Balance also described the album as an attempt to create "temporal slips".

Chris & Cosey British band

Chris & Cosey, now performing as Carter Tutti, are a band formed in 1981, consisting of couple Chris Carter and Cosey Fanni Tutti, both previously members of industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle.

<i>Horse Rotorvator</i> 1986 studio album by Coil

Horse Rotorvator is the second full-length studio album released by the British industrial music group Coil. It was ranked 73 by Pitchfork Media in its list of the Top 100 Albums of the 1980s.

Panic/Tainted Love single by Coil

"Panic" and "Tainted Love" are songs recorded by British experimental music band Coil. These were released in 1985 through Some Bizzare in the UK and Wax Trax! Records in the US respectively, as the band's first single, and the sole one from their 1984 debut studio album, Scatology. Originally released on twelve-inch vinyl discs, the single was regarded as the first AIDS benefit release, and has been reissued several times on compact discs.

Windowpane (song) single by Coil

"Windowpane" is a song by British experimental band Coil, from their third studio album, Love's Secret Domain (1991). Written and produced by the band with lyrics by John Balance, it was released in 1990 by Threshold House on 12" vinyl and CD; in the US, the single was licensed by the indie record label Wax Trax! Records. The song's accompanying video was directed by Peter Christopherson. "Windowpane" appears here truncated, missing the backwards vocals as they appear on the end of the song's album version. The "Astral Paddington Mix" is purely instrumental. Regarded as a “proto-‘trip-hop’” track, the song refers in the title to LSD encapsulated in thin gelatin squares, with the lyrics referring to the subjective effects of an LSD trip.

<i>Gold Is the Metal (With the Broadest Shoulders)</i> 1987 studio album by Coil

Gold Is the Metal was the third album released by Coil in the year 1987. It is not a proper follow-up to 1986's Horse Rotorvator, but more a collection of outtakes and demos from the Scatology, Horse Rotorvator and Hellraiser soundtrack sessions. Some obviously correspond to earlier and later released material, while others do not appear anywhere else. "The Last Rites of Spring" includes a sample by Stravinsky, also used extensively in "The Anal Staircase".

Brainwashed is a not-for-profit music website supporting eclectic music. Brainwashed features news, reviews, a podcast, hosts websites for many musical artists and record labels, and has organized two music festivals, Brainwaves. Over fifty people contribute to the archives of Brainwashed. Brainwashed also releases music as Brainwashed Recordings.

<i>Heathen Earth</i> 1980 live album by Throbbing Gristle

Heathen Earth is a live album by the English industrial band Throbbing Gristle, released in 1980 through Industrial Records.

Threshold House is one of several record labels created by Coil to release their own work and that of affiliated projects. Associated labels include Eskaton and Chalice. It is also the name for the official Coil website.

Experimental music group Coil's live incarnation has a distinct legacy of its own. The initial performances took place in 1983, however they stopped playing live for 16 years after a mere four performances. The first Coil release, a collaboration with Zos Kia titled Transparent, includes a track from the first Coil performance as well as the last 1983 performance. According to the liner notes of Transparent, during Coil's second performance, which was videotaped by Peter Christopherson, John Gosling urinated on John Balance. Nick Cave, who was in the audience at the time, promptly left. Marc Almond is also credited for performing that night while Christopherson is only credited for providing back up tapes during the event.

<i>The Second Annual Report</i> 1977 studio album / Live album by Throbbing Gristle

The Second Annual Report is the debut album by English industrial music pioneers Throbbing Gristle, released in November 1977 through Industrial Records. It is a combination of live and studio recordings made from October 1976 to September 1977.

Danny Hyde is an experimental musician and remix artist. Hyde has contributed to production and mixing on many Coil albums, including Horse Rotorvator, Love's Secret Domain, The Remote Viewer, Black Antlers, and The New Backwards. Hyde has also worked with Psychic TV and Pop Will Eat Itself. Hyde participated in the creation of many remixes while working with Coil, including several for Nine Inch Nails that were released on Fixed, Closer To God and certified gold release Further Down the Spiral as well as the rerelease of quadruple-platinum album The Downward Spiral. His remix of Nine Inch Nails' song "Closer" was featured in the film Seven.

<i>Force the Hand of Chance</i> album by Psychic TV

Force the Hand of Chance is the debut studio album by English experimental group Psychic TV, released in 1982 by record label Some Bizzare. The first 5,000 pressings came with a bonus album, Themes.

<i>Live in Porto</i> live album by Coil

Live in Porto is the "authorised bootleg" of a live performance by Coil, which took place on June 21, 2003 at the Casa da Musica Festival, Porto, Portugal. At this show, Coil were Peter Christopherson, Thighpaulsandra and Ossian Brown. Jhonn Balance was too sick to attend, as in case of Montreal concert at MUTEK Festival.



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