Sunday, June 9, 2024

Drew McDowall's "A Thread, Silvered and Trembling" & US Tour: May 31 - Jun 19

Born of the countercultural hotbed and its response to the restrictions of Margaret Thatcher's England, Jhon Balance and Peter Christohperson's music as Coil may be the most explicitly occult, and outwardly queer, of all of the British post-punk and industrial sounds of the 1980s. The origins of Coil can be found in Christopherson's contribution to the very outfit that coined the term industrial music, and the transgressive sound, art, and theater they deployed as Throbbing Gristle. Splitting from TG with the meeting of Zos Kia's Jhon Balance in 1983, Christopherson's fruitful collaborations with Balance would carve out a body of psychedelic and "sidereal" music on the fringe of post-punk and experimental culture for the next three decades. There remains no better guide to the mystic, psychedelic, rapturously unique and deeply beguiling music Jhon and Peter created over the decades of Coil's existence, and the wider British countercultural 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 bridge Coil's deep plumbing of the esoteric and the cultural milieu of the time better than Russell Cuzner's feature for The Quietus, "Serious Listeners: The Strange and Frightening World of Coil". In the following decade, by the early-1990s the duo had brought on supporting members Stephen Thrower, Drew McDowall, Ossian Brown, Danny Hyde, and William Breeze and an assimilation of UK club music and American minimalist composers into their sound. This all began with the unlikely meeting of British rave, ecstasy, and queer club culture colliding head-on with their morose, cinematic, and surrealist themes that were heard on 1991's "Love's Secret Domain".

This wildly energetic and transitional era for Coil is explored by their friend and collaborator, Stephen Thrower, in a recent and revealing interview for The Quietus, "Further Back and Faster: A Return to Coil's Love's Secret Domain". In many ways, the album acted as a primer to Coil's next step, the ill-fated "Backwards" album for the Nothing label, briefed in the "Trent Reznor on Coil and Nine Inch Nails" interview, and the following phase of 1996's "Black Light District: A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room", where they began their venture into an expressly ambient and nocturnal passage. Insight into this mercurial era of their music and assimilation and perversion of then-developing sounds in British electronic music is revealed through the inner workings of their "Obscure Mechanics" in philosophical and musing interviews published in the pages of The Wire. It was through this pivotal transition of their music that the contributions of Drew McDowall and Thighpaulsandra came to the fore, on increasingly minimalist works that explored altered states of mind, ritualistic access to other realms, and ambient Moon Musick. The opening salvo of which was their "Time Machines" collaboration, which its co-author spoke on with The Quietus, "Time Machines: Drew McDowall on Coil's Drone Legacy". Journeying 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". It is these recordings for the Dias label, in which McDowall has refined and expanded the vocabulary of the Coil collaborations heard two decades before, further enriching the pool of tonal minimalism with deeper sonic musings, and a more variegated vocabulary of haunted sonics. Most notable among these, this month he is on tour with his newest, "A Thread, Silvered and Trembling", sounding the depths of what The Wire called, "Musick, Magick and Sacred Materiality".