Coil (band)

From Academic Kids

Missing image
A line-up of the band Coil, from left to right: Simon Norris, Thighpaulsandra, John Balance and Peter "Sleazy" Christpherson

Coil is an experimental music group that has worked in several forms of music (electronic and otherwise) such as industrial, noise, ambient and dark ambient, neo-folk, spoken word, and minimalism.

The band was formed by John Balance (sometimes credited as Jhonn Balance) and Industrial Records co-founder Peter Christopherson when both left Psychic TV, an earlier industrial band. Over time, Coil's line-up has included Stephen Thrower, Rose McDowell, Drew McDowell, Danny Hyde, William Breeze, Thighpaulsandra and Simon Norris with live contributions from Cliff Stapleton and Mike York.



Coil's first solo release, How to Destroy Angels was described as "ritual music for the accumulation of male sexual energy", and was said, by Coil, to have been produced under a variety of technological, spiritual, and meteorological conditions which the band felt to be magickally significant. There were several versions of this record released, on which the B-side was smooth unpressed vinyl, unplayable noise-filled grooves, layered music, test tones, and other sounds and noise of similar nature. Even their distribution and marketing techniques are left-of-center, sometimes producing only as many as 99 copies of an album, allowing only those who are truly dedicated to the band to seek them out. Including things such as "art objects", blood stains and sigil-like autographs in the packaging of their albums, they claim this makes their work more personal for true fans, turning their records into something akin to occultish artifacts. This practice was markedly increased in the later half of Coil's career. Some critics have accused Coil and its record company of price gouging. In 2003, Coil began been re-releasing many rare works, mostly remixed, into general circulation.

Coil also has an interesting habit of separating their works into many side-projects, publishing music under different names when it is created using different styles. Some of their side-names are ELpH, Zos Kia, The Eskaton, Black Light District, Time Machines, and one of their newer members, Thighpaulsandra, produces music on his own as well. They contributed music to two of Derek Jarman's films, Blue and The Angelic Conversation.

John Balance passed away on 13 November, 2004 after falling from a first floor landing in his home. On November 25th, it was announced that Coil would be releasing a number of video, audio and other works that were in various states of completion at the time of Jhonn's death, and all other planned appearances and releases would be cancelled, ending the band's twenty-year artistic career.

Creative methods

Coil's level of detail and non-traditional approach to music is found in all aspects of their work. They've been known to utilize at least the following methods:

electronic voice phenomena (EVP) — ritual hallucinogenslucid dreamingsidereal soundgranular synthesistidal shifts — John Dee-like methods of scrying — the mistakes their electronic equipment make — synchronizing their studio to the SETI project — chaos theory — etc.

As well as such exotic instruments:

archaic/obsolete modular synthesizers — experimental photoelectronic synthesizers — a theremin — a moog — morbid electronic shakuhachi — etc.


Other music that has influenced and informed Coil's sound is diverse and wide-ranging:

Captain BeefheartAngus MacliseCanBrian EnoFlipperLa Monte YoungClusterLou ReedArvo PärtAlvin LucierNicoLeonard Cohenthe Birthday PartyMorton Subotnickthe Velvet UndergroundKarlheinz StockhausenAmon Düül II (aka Amon Duul II) — etc.

Jhonn was always encouraging fans to trade, talk about and discover new and different forms of music, stressing the importance of variety.


Coil releases

  • How to Destroy Angels (12") (1984)
  • Scatology (LP/CS/CD) (1984)
  • Panic / Tainted Love (12"/CDEP) (1985) (limited 1000 copies)
  • The Anal Staircase (12") (1986) (limited 1000 copies)
  • Horse Rotorvator (LP/CS/CD) (1986)
  • Gold is the Metal (LP/CD) (1987)
  • The Wheel / The Wheal (7") (1987) (limited 500 copies)
  • The Unreleased Themes For Hellraiser (10"/CS/CDEP) (1987)
  • The Wheal / Keelhauler (7") (1990) (limited ??? copies)
  • Wrong Eye / Scope (7") (1990) (limited 3000 copies)
  • Unnatural History (CD) (1990) (collection)
  • Windowpane (12"/CDEP) (1990)
  • Love's Secret Domain (LP/CS/CD) (1991)
  • The Snow (EP/CS/CD) (1991)
  • Stolen and Contaminated Songs (CD) (1992)
  • How to Destroy Angels (Remixes And Re-Recordings) (CD) (1992)
  • Airborne Bells / Is Suicide a Solution (7") (1993) (limited 1400 copies)
  • Themes from Blue (7") (1993) (limited 1023 copies)
  • The Angelic Conversation (CD) (1994)
  • Unnatural History II (CD) (1995) (collection reprinting "Themes For Hellraiser", "Themes from Blue", and more)
  • Windowpane / The Snow (CD) (1996)
  • Unnatural History III (CD) (1997) (collection)
  • The Seasons Releases:
    • Spring Equinox: Moon's Milk or Under an Unquiet Skull (7"/CDEP) (1998) (limited printing only during the season of Spring 1998)
    • Summer Solstice: Bee Stings (7"/CDEP) (1998) (limited printing only during the season of Summer 1998)
    • Autumn Equinox: Amethyst Deceivers (7"/CDEP) (1998) (limited printing only during the season of Autumn 1998)
    • Winter Solstice: North (7"/CDEP) (1998) (limited printing only during the season of Winder 1998/1999)
  • Astral Disaster (LP) (1999) (limited 99 copies)
  • Musick to Play in the Dark Volume I (CD/LP) (1999)
  • Astral Disaster (remixed and extended) (CD) (2000)
  • Queens of the Circulating Library (CD) (2000)
  • Musick to Play in the Dark Volume II (CD/2xLP) (2000)
  • Coil Presents Time Machines CD (2000) (limited, rereleased as Live One)
  • Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil (CD) (2000)
  • A Guide for Beginners: A Silver Voice (CD) (2001) (Russian-market compilation of Coil ambient)
  • A Guide for Finishers: A Golden Hair (CD) (2001) (Russian-market compilation of Coil industrial)
  • Live in New York City (VHS/CD-R) (2001)
  • Moons Milk (In Four Phases) (2xCD) (2001) (reprinting of the Seasons Releases)
  • Moons Milk (In Four Phases) Bonus Disc (CD-R) (2002) (limited 333 copies)
  • The Remote Viewer (CD-R) (2002) (limited 500 copies)
  • Plastic Spider Thing (CD) (2002) (remix album, cf. note in Remixes section)
  • The Golden Hare With A Voice Of Silver (2xCD) (2002) (The two Russian "Guides" releases combined for world market)
  • Live in Moscow 2001 (VHS) (2001) (limited 35 copies)
  • Spoiler Talks DVD Series: Coil (DVD) (2003) (limited 1 copy)
  • Live Four (CD) (2003)
  • Live Three (CD) (2003)
  • Live Two (CD) (2003)
  • Live One (2xCD) (2003)
  • ANS (CD) (2003) (limited edition, part of Live boxed set)
  • Megalithomania! (CD-R) (2003) (limited edition, part of Live boxed set)
  • The Restitution of Decayed Intelligence (10") (2003) (limited 600 copies)
  • ANS (3xCD & 1 DVD) (2004)
  • Black Antlers (CD-R) (2004) (limited edition album in progress sold during their "Even An Evil Fatigue" mini-tour)

Side-project releases

  • Coil/Zos Kia: Transparent (CS/CD/LP) (1984)
  • Coil vs The Eskaton: Nasa Arab (12") (1994)
  • Coil vs ELpH: Protection (CDEP) (1994)
  • ELpH: pHILM #1 (10") (1994)
  • ELpH vs. Coil: Worship the Glitch (CD/2x10") (1995)
  • Black Light District: A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room (CD/2xLP) (1996)
  • Time Machines: Time Machines (CD/2xLP) (1998)
  • ELpH: elph.zwölf (CDEP) (1999) (limited 1000 copies)

Remixes by others

  • Coil - Plastic Spider Thing (This Coil release was not written by the band, but instead by the art-performance group Black Sun Productions, who created the album out of remixed and reworked Coil material. Upon hearing the work, Coil was so impressed by it that they released as an official Coil work.)
  • The track At The Heart Of It All (found on Scatology and two compilations) may have been reflected/"remixed" the Aphex Twin way into his track of the same name (details in the notes for 26 Mixes for Cash).
  • Some have wondered if Coil's dark cover of Gloria Jones' Tainted Love (1984, on Scatology) hasn't been the basis for the piano-and-bells background for the Gilmour-led Pink Floyd's hit High Hopes (1994, on The Division Bell).

See also

List of songs over fifteen minutes in length

External links

  • Threshold ( - The official Coil website.
  • Coil: The Solar Lodge @ Brainwashed ( - Archival website : news, discogs, reviews, interviews, FAQ, etc.
    • Illustrated Coil discog ( : albums and singles with 1-min hi-fi MP3 samples [JavaScript required].
    • Text-only Coil discog ( : raw complete discog on a single text page.
  • Coil Lyrics @ CL4 ( - 120+ Coil lyrics on two pages (and w/o ads!).

Interviews, reviews, articles:


  • The ANS Photoelectronic Synthesizer ( : cf. album ANS, "An album of material recorded using the ANS Synthesizer, a one-of-a-kind photoelectronic instrument at Moscow State University."


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