This is, strictly speaking, the first Coil album in name — but it’s probably not the first Coil album to start with, if only because you won’t have much of an introduction to Coil through it. Come to think of it, anyone who’s followed Coil for more than a couple of albums would know that they were not so much defined by a signature sound as the fact that they were constantly and restlessly trying out new sounds like snakes shedding skins. This was merely one of many, many dissimilar phases they went through.
That said, it’s mainly of interest to people who are a) already Coil fans and are curious about what they were mucking around with when they had freshly adopted the Coil moniker or b) compulsively collecting every bit of TG / Test Dept. / Le Syndicat / Merzbow-inspired sludge that surfaced during the Eighties. The album itself is split between Zos Kia (a band which for a time included John Balance of Coil) and Coil itself, with the latter supplying the occasional bit of material and inspiration for the former. Most of the material is low-fi, improvised performance-art-style audience-clobbering, again arguably no better (or worse) than any of the other such material released at the time. It probably had more of an effect live; too much of it is simply monolithic and self-indulgent when presented on a recording. Read more
I have no other record in my current collection apart from Peter Gabriel’s third album (“Melt”) that can drive me right to tears no matter what the circumstances. The 1982 edition of the Rolling Stone Record Guide described this album as “songs of stark horror” wherein Gabriel “despaired the very modernity that makes his music possible.” Stark and despairing is too right. Melt Gabriel’s face completely off the cover (it’s already half-melted) and what you have is a black hole, albeit one where you are serenaded by the sympathetic Gabriel as you fall in headfirst. If Gabriel had been using his new-familiar two-letter album naming convention this far back, he might have just called this album No and left it at that.
The negation is all there on the surface, right in the song titles: “No Self-Control”, “I Don’t Remember”, “Not One of Us”. The bad vibes starts immediately with “Intruder”, whose booming opening drumbeats bring to mind the amplified footsteps of a monster in the house and lead into a story about an outsider who must invade or violate to feel fully alive. He’s inspired by isolation — that is, isolating another for the sake of doing his dirty work — and only someone who is himself hopelessly isolated could cherish such things. Alone in a crowd, alone in a spotlight, alone against all, despite (and maybe because of) the fact that there are billions of us jammed together on one planet, fuels just about every song on the record.Read more