12 September 2004

Coil's Love's Secret Domain

First in a very occasional series on why those albums are in my sidebar.


Disco Hospital
Opens with a kaleidoscope cut-up of what could be once and future Coil projects, spiralling timelines of voices and neaderthal gulps through tiny jumping drums and sheets of sound that are occasionally ripped apart by Don't Look Now goblin slashes. An attack of hiccups in the petit-mal ward of Britannia Hospital.
Teenage Lightning 1
IBM code breaks down into soothing messages sent by the homosexual sex-dwarf Machine Elves."Don't be alarmed. It's only light-ning". Sounds bubbling up from the primordial soup, fizzing on the surface for a while and then spinning off across the pond. Carnival Music heard through the gauze of Salvia Divinorum.
Things Happen
A (slight) electroid return to the classical death-music of Horse Rotovator. Annie Anxiety adds the war-damaged, shell-shock spoken words of a Central American refugee trying to find her bearings while music swims, bleats and breaks apart against her as the occasional tuned horn blast calls her back home.
The Snow
Probably the track that most pissed off the Coil Goths. Seriously, some of those guys will never be the same again. It's unashamedy euporic dance-music but even when they're on their best behaviour, Coil leave something of their unique, slightly soiled, imprint just detectable amongst the shining synths and 4/4 beats. Underneath it all there's even a touch of the Sun Ras around the seams.
Dark River
Music for the Thai Restaurant at the End of the Universe.
Where Even The Darkness is Something to See
Only Coil make digeridoos sound scary. In this track they seem to suck the light out of the sky. The sound of 4 AM at Glastonbury Festival as you turn a corner and find ten dreadlocked, mud-soaked council-estate boys blowing into lengths of guttering, trying to express the sounds inside their skulls while Stanley Owsley drips Orange Sunshine onto their smiling upturned faces.
Teenage Lightning 2
A reprise as heard by someone wandering the streets of Barcelona after seeing Aphex twin play Sonar
My friend Dom once bought some supposedly 'windowpane' acid and put a tab directly into his eye, mistakenly believing that this was the only way it could work. This is how the Pet Shop Boys must have sounded to him as he waited in casualty. Purest alchemical pop music filtered through the soft keenings of Rose McDowell and the early hyperdelic experiments of Psychic TV
Further Back and Faster featuring Mick Jagger in his Pan(optic) role in Performance. The opening minute and a half build up of this is the mostly truly ecstatic, Dioysian psychedelic music I've heard; the music slips and slides all over the show, giving you glimpses of frenzied thin men in jester hats, dancing around in the half-light awaiting the arrival of Milton's Comus. The digeridoos are back, melting into robotic mouthwashes, hiccupping drum lines and ourorobotic(??) synths. Later, there's a sudden slice of pure malevolence from the LP of Night of the Hunter.
Titan Arch
A delirious, half-dead Marc Almond being dragged through the streets of Alamut by Hassan i Sabbah's assassins, only to wake up in Paradise, looking at the stars.
The moment the elements align. Beginning with bursts of Tesla wave radio static, solar flares and a half-heard touretting string quartet this takes a while to unravel into a beautifully serpentine oboe solo that curls out of the fog. The sound you want to hear when the Eschaton is Immanentized.
Lora Not Orca
The sound you hear when you haven't taken as many drugs as you did when you heard Teenage Lightning 2.
Love's Secret Domain
William Blake's The Sick Rose re-imagined and deformed for the alchemical generation. Synth streams, ecstatic drumming and a frantic 'rub some calf fat on your chest and pretend to be wolves' vocal performance from John Balance that perfectly soundtracks the long trip towards Crowley's Abyss before you decide whether or not you want to jump in.

Coil - Love's Secret Domain

This album only really works when you play it all. It's full of light and love and electricity and shot through with LSD. It's the only album I can think of that manages to convey the truly psychedelic, the sense that drugs can be scary and fun. If you have it I hope you agree, or listen again. If you don't then I reckon Santa ought to be getting your list around about now...

I welcome your take on this, or any more information about the making of it, source of samples etc. I'm wrong about so many things.


Anonymous said...

Nice to see you posting this; I still listen to and admire Coil, though my favorite albums are Stolen And Contaminated Songs, and Unnatural History, my favorite track being "The Pope Held Upside Down". Freakish, I know. Great blog. Keep it up. --SX

Anonymous said...

A very intriguing and in-depth review of my favorite Coil album. A few things though: according to the members of Coil, Love's Secret Domain wasn't really an album created while on LSD. Sure, they were on a boatload of other substances, but it is common to think that Love's Secret Domain is influnced directly by acid trips. Also, "Love's Secret Domain", the song, owes as much to Roy Orbison's "In Dreams" as it does to Blake. Which makes for an interesting parellel when you consider David Lynch's Blue Velvet. Either way, I really enjoyed your analysis...quite insightful, really.


Scar_let from livejournal

Loki said...

yeah, i think they said the sessions were fuelled by coffee, guarana and probably a sleep-deprived melatonin deficiency...still reckon LSD residues are seeping in through the seams though...

Anonymous said...

Never really been big on the "goth" scene, however this album makes said scene an approachable one for me. Coil is truly a band of geniuses, and this slab of sounds holds up well, 15 years later.


astral said...

masterpiece!!!...if you like Coil i'm doing a blog exclusively for them...ckeck it out...cheers:)

Anonymous said...

There's a sample from a Warhol movie at the beginning of this album that says 'can you get me some LSD?'.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

I loved your descriptions! To that anonymous, coil has nothing to do with the goth scene, even if they sometime deal with scary themes.

Loki said...

they do deal with scary themes... but it's mostly about a morose form of joy, i think...

Buck said...

Thank you for this post, really worthwhile info.
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