Yeah, I know. Coil again.
It's quite possible that Love's Secret Domain (or here) was my favourite album of the 90s and Horse Rotovator my favourite of the 80s (though I might have chosen The Cure).
But Coil it is and will be. The way the major Coil releases magic mirror my own state of musical mind (Mmmm) is uncanny:
The 80s semi-Goth phase (a half-hearted Goth? Surely that's not Goth enough... I was a Goth afraid of black, replacing it instead with a massive jumper that made me look like a Fly Agaric), Western Lands, Maldoror, Pasolini obsessions through to the...
90s Acid Kid phase (kid becoming less appropriate as the decade wore on) where the only symptom of schizophrenia was delusions of grandeur and everything was seen through the psilotripitarka'd gauze of Glastonbury Festival mushroom socks, trance, Fraser Clarke ("Give us back our treeeees!") and..., well, you get the picture.
And so to the (now) unquestioned album of the noughties: the Moon's Milk compilation of the Equinox EPs. It works better as an album, I think ; it slips between tracks and moods as seamlessly as the British seasons. Moon's Milk evoked the crackling (cf: A Book Of Idiot Dreams) and the twig snapping lycanthropy of my childhood at a time when I was just arriving back in the West Country after 10 years of being away.
Moon's Milk is also apposite because it has a vague folkiness to it; in fact I think it'll stand in years to come as a direction for British Folk music that never quite came off, perhaps akin to the Comus album or the imaginary EPs series of folk classics (Gyre and Joanna Newsom's Duck With Two Backs) or even to my oft quoted (by me) rufflings about the missed Acid House opportunities suggested by Jack The Tab album (also here).
As the decade wore on I found myself getting more and more into folk in all it's various forms - The Sunburned Hands, Ice Bird Spiral, Kemilliaset Ystavat, Devendra Banhart, the Time-Lag contingent, Joanna Newsom (who was Kemper Norton, who outfolked lots of people and will outfolk others in the times to come) - and any album choice needs to reflect this gentle, subtle calming of the psychedelic ways.
Here there be swirls:
Moon's Milk also seems home-made somehow and this has been another theme for my musical decade; the regrowth of folk-art and CDR culture, the return of absolute effort into making musical artefacts; funny that when lots of commentators are talking about the death of CDs and musica as tangible object, my experience of the noughties has been one where the product has often been central; I play Moon's Milk on my iPod yeah but it exists only as a package, within the artwork, even down to the hidden track which presupposes that the CD is somewhere, left running. Lots of little musics existed in beautiful forms with spectacular and necessary artwork. The margins flourished.
So, the music itself. Well, drones rise, electronics nestle up against acoustics, voices rise and fall; this is not just where folk might have gone but also where classical music might end up. It works as a tidal album much better than the on the surface more river orientated Astral Disaster and allows just the right amount of dissonance to creep around the edges of all the beautiful songforms. There's long and short songs. Fat and thin ones. It's a dangerous record too: a breath either way and it's a pretentious, portentous nonsense of a record. Moments of great beauty and slivers of ugliness.
There's even a Christmas song.
Of Coil's other big releases this decade, The Music To Play In The Dark series had their moments of divine clarity but don't get played right through that often while the hugely anticipated The Ape of Naples felt like a letdown. Moon's Milk took a few breaths to get into but have stayed with me. There's not a month gone by when i haven't played it right the way through and there's very few albums which I can honestly say that about.