Thursday, February 1, 2018

Drew McDowall performs Coil's "Time Machines" Tour: Feb 10 - 17

After the rapturous vocal invocations and dream-murmuring of Jhon Balance ceased upon his accidental death in 2004, his creative partner and ex-lover Peter Christopherson began the endeavor of constructing a final statement on the decades of their shared creative project as Coil. Work had also begun on a comprehensive archive of their recorded output, yet the "Colour Sound Oblivion" box set was to be the only publicly released artifact of this endeavor before Peter's own demise in 2010. Jon Whitney of the longstanding online music and underground culture entity Brainwashed issued a statement in 2015 establishing among other things, the ongoing continuance of his work on their shared endeavor in the wake of Peter's death. Upon the occurrence of the Brainwaves Festival in 2008 he and Christopherson began the assimilating and building of the highest quality materials available representing Coil's recorded history into the intended corpus that would become the Threshold Archives. As the entity sanctioned by Christopherson and the family of Geff Rushton, the archives released the first of their proposed series in that year. 2015 also saw other recordings released of varying and less official propriety. Foremost among them, Danny Hyde produced his personal master tapes of the legendary, rumored "Backwards" album from the British and New Orleans sessions in a edition newly remastered by Gregg Janman. Hyde's statement on the Cold Spring Records site crediting it's entombment for decades at the hands of Interscope to Universal Music's "grey men", and their legal contract concerning it's initial release. Late in his life, in a 2009 interview as part of Resonance FM's feature, "Peter Christopherson on the Hour of the Apocalypse", Coil's central figure spoke to the aesthetic and technical nature of those recordings from a decade before. In the interview he details the choice to withhold the release of the fruit born of the sessions spent in the mid-1990s following an invitation to record in Trent Reznor's New Orleans studio. The decade that followed saw the most striking stylistic shift from the duo, embracing a wider body of influences from jazz, to krautrock, psychedelia, club-oriented electronic music, eastern trance and ritualistic music, and Indian Raga. With the expansion of their sound, their roster also grew to encompass film critic Stephen Thrower and Ossian Brown, who would themselves continue such "Happy Hauntings" into related aural hinterlands as Cyclobe. At the time a quartet comprising the central constants of Peter and Jhon, who were joined by Thighpaulsandra of Spiritualized and the Julian Cope band, and Drew McDowall, who would become the only other ongoing participants in Coil. As Astralnauts making forays into "The Sounds of Blakeness", Balance and Christopherson were rarely known to look to their own past, particularly in the throes of this quintet's new body of somnambulistic Moon Musick.

This stretch of years not only saw a heightened period of musical output and stylistic expansion, but also a engaged social and philosophical impetus at work. Less hermetic than in decades past, Peter and Jhon revealed the inner workings of their "Obscure Mechanics" in a series of journeying interviews for The Wire. The half-decade that followed was prolific as Coil continued into even further-afield esoteric realms of aural exploration, generating numerous side projects and pseudonyms along the way. Their "Black Light District: A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room", the Scrying Mirror enhanced Time Machines and ritualistic Solstice series, hinting at the spectral, haunted atmospheres and semi-improvised, open ended songforms that would characterize the later Musick to Play in the Dark albums of the millennial cusp. Looking to facilitate this shift towards a more expansive embracing of diverse sounds, their shared fascination with the music of LaMonte Young would move Peter, Jhon and Drew towards a more minimal parsing of Coil, reflected in their first collaborations as "Worship the Glitch". Utilizing the techniques of minimalism toward the end of a ritual music engineered to effect the psyche and invocation of a liminal state, these collaborations led to their purest realization with the engineering of, "Time Machines: Drew McDowall On Coil's Drone Legacy". With the reissue this past winter of this singular, musical, ritualistic device within the Coil discography, McDowall has taken the opportunity to present the work in a live setting in select cities across North America. Speaking further with FACT on his legacy with Coil and brief tenure with Psychic TV, McDowall has also developed a body of current recordings, reflective of the sharp edge of these tenuous times, "Industrial legend Drew McDowall on Coil and confronting Global Crisis". For those looking to explore the 22 years of mystic, psychedelic, rapturously unique and deeply beguiling music Jhon and Peter created over the decades of Coil's existence, there is no better guide to their cultural continuum than David Keenan's "England's Hidden Reverse: A Secret History of the Esoteric Underground". More concise compendiums tend to be on the exiguous side, but few resources online balance Coil's deep plumbing of the esoteric with their occasional alignment with the cultural milieu better than Russell Cuzner's Strange World Of... feature for The Quietus, "Serious Listeners: The Strange and Frightening World of Coil". Shortly before his death, further insight was offered into the labyrinth of their lives, art and music when Christopherson  spoke on, "Living in The Back of Beyond: Coil's Sleazy Interviewed". Discussing the later years of his life in Thailand, the first of what he describes as the "Coil Codex" that would later become Threshold Archives, and the closing of his partnership with Jhon. Reflecting on their decades of transcending conventions in genre, sexuality, the cultural mores of modern Europe, and a life spent mapping the artistic and occult peripheries of a hidden England.