Thursday, 19 August 2010

Coil – Colour Sound Oblivion: Disc 3 Convergence, New York , 2001 & Disc 4 DK Gorbunova, Moscow, 2001

CSO 3: New York 18/08/01 – Convergence
Mood: Glowing
Personnel: Jhon Balance, Peter Christopherson, Thighpaulsandra, Tom Edwards & Martin Schellard (additional performers Danny McKernan & Matthew Gibson)

CSO 4: Moscow 15/09/01 – DK Gorbunova
Mood: Glowing
Personnel: Jhon Balance, Peter Christopherson, Thighpaulsandra & Tom Edwards

Tracklist (same for both discs):
Higher Beings Command
Amethyst Deceivers
What Kind of Animal Are You?
Blood from the Air
I Am the The Green Child
Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil

The performances on the next two discs are examples of Coil’s second live period, what is often referred to as the Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil live era, one of which is excellent and the other extraordinary. The second time that I saw Coil play was the Persistence is All performance at the Royal Festival, London, on the 19th September 2000. This performance was considerably different from their earlier Time Machines concert, and represented an early outing for their second live manifestation. The set list at the London show was very similar to the two shows on these discs, the only difference was the earlier inclusion of Titan Arch from Love’s Secret Domain, which was replaced at the later concerts by the new song What Kind of Animal Are You? For these concerts the members of Coil were now all clad in what looked like highly reflective boiler suits with loose hanging straps, and they appeared to be made-up to look like they had received head trauma. Depending on the lighting being used, they have the appearance of brutalised cosmonauts having escaped from their straightjackets, or as headless glowing spectral figures haunting the stage.

By this point there had been a clear evolution from their restrained, disciplined and slow ritualistic performances into a much more violent and unconstrained mood, where the magickal intent was clearly somewhat different. Other changes were apparent, including the new set-list, alternative line-up, diverse instrumentation, and the striking visual backdrop. Whilst the two concerts from New York and Moscow in 2001 share an identical set-list, they actually provide some intriguing contrasts, so I thought I would review both of them together.

The New York concert on disc 3, Coil’s only show in the United States, was originally shot and recorded by Don Poe of Muteelation, and had been previously released by him as an officially sanctioned video and CDr. This was a well shot and well edited recording, with the sound and visual quality being of a high standard. For Colour Sound Oblivion Sleazy has undertaken some considerable additional editing, most of which involves blending the performance video with the backing projections to spectacular effect, which raises Coil’s performance to an even higher level of intensity. (Sleazy’s projections for these performances, along with the aural backing track, are included in the double DVD set which make up the final two discs of the box-set). Coil arrive on stage accompanied by Balance’s repeated intoning of Something from Musick to Play in the Dark 2,at which point Balance announces that they are dedicating the concert to the moon. The sound then morphs into the sweeping majesty of Higher Beings Command from Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil. The line-up and instrumentation for this show is slightly different from earlier performances, with Ossian Brown being replaced by Martin Schellard playing heavily processed guitar drones and Tom Edwards adding a very distinctive Marimba rhythm.

Thighpaulsandra can be seen playing one of the group’s rare and wonderful Fenix modular synthesisers throughout the concert, a key piece of sound equipment that largely defines the group’s early live sound, together with the later studio soundscapes of Queens of the Circulating Library and Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil. This beautiful piece of equipment is noticeably absent from the later Moscow 2001 performance.

The next track is a version of Amethyst Deceivers which delivers an interplay between a beautiful deep electronic pulse, that calls to mind the padding approach of a giant feline creature, and Edward’s angular Marimba. Schellard and Thighpaulsandra add stabs of guitar drones and electronic noise to accompany Balance’s heavily processed vocals. This is followed by what is arguably one of the highlights of this particular performance, the new track What Kind of Animal Are You? This piece is marked by a sense of urgency, trauma and intensity, beginning with angular and atonal electronics over which Balance vividly recalls a dream in which he was a large black dog and a man on a cross wearing a crown of thorns. Here Balance’s live vocal performance (unprocessed) begins to reach a new level of intensity, one that would increasingly define much of Coil’s live work. This is a remarkably powerful musical and vocal performance - dynamic, intense and terrifying. As the song’s opening section makes way for the frenetic and swirling electronic insanity of the mid-section, it becomes a kind of transformative ritual centred around one of the key magickal concerns of the group, namely the relation between man and animal. Balance seems to become possessed by powerful forces as he screams of becoming an animal (dog and salamander). This is contrasted by a careful and challenging insistence, signalled by a distinct alteration of the musical dynamic, that when you ‘peel your plastic back, you’ll see’ that man is the animal, that man is divine and that there is no time. It is clear that Balance has once again taken on the role of the intermediary between the dimension of man and animal, pursuing the transformative potential of moving from man to animal and then beyond. With this performance Coil are continuing and persisting with one of the key obsessions evident from the group’s earliest live ‘art’ piece from 1983.

Balance mistakenly introduces the next track as I Am the Green Child, but quickly corrects himself to announce Blood from the Air (from Horse Rotorvator). His vocals, again heavily electronically processed and distorted, are sung over the top of a restrained and disciplined musical performance that sounds indistinguishable from the original studio recording. Balance becomes a demonic messenger, singing of pain and dread, delivering the good news that everything changes and everything dies. Then comes I am the Green Child from Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil, a piece that is all angular marimba, resonant electronics and animal howling. Again Balance assumes a demonic role, emerging from some otherworldy dimension full of anger and vengeful humour. This track functions as dynamic preparation for the second highlight of this brilliant performance, the full-on vertiginous intensity and madness of Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil. The final sixteen minutes mark a controlled descent into an almost inconceivable realm of aural lunacy where Coil elaborate a true cacophonous wall of sound. This is a piece that appears to reveal (to me at least) their obvious concern with discerning and rendering tangible to an audience the invisible barriers and the limits that separate us from other dimensions, to render them manifest and to perform some kind of brief assault upon them. As we draw ever nearer to climax two naked male figures appear on stage bearing a large sheet of metal against which Balance performs the seemingly futile gesture of smashing his head. There is a chaotic sexual eroticism made manifest here, a beautiful masculine fecundity of colour and sound that swells, sweats, throbs and explodes. A fitting climax to a remarkable show suffused with dread, anxiety and ecstasy.
However, as is evident from the frequent stage visits by the venue’s sound technician, Coil’s performance in New York was plagued throughout by a number of technical glitches and failures. This doesn’t seriously detract from what is a quite outstanding concert (and video recording) that was extremely well received by Coil’s US fanbase at the time. But what does become obvious, particularly when you watch both of these performances next to each other, is that the New York show appears slightly disjointed and less coherent. The Moscow performance is, by contrast, the near perfection of this particular live manifestation of Coil. Here the set-list functions as a coherent whole, with the complex dynamics being allowed the space to build and function successfully. The high quality and close-up video recording of the 2001 Russian performance was made by FeeLee and has been previously released on VHS.

Watching this performance the extent of Coil’s desire for it to function as a ritualistic act of cleansing and transfiguration became clearer to me – they are elaborating animal becomings, allowing demonic voices to deliver their commanding messages about death, change and renewal, and summoning the courage to confront the limits, to dwell on the threshold and to attempt to go across (or as Balance says, to ‘go under in the company of animals’).

Coil again appear during the ritual invocation of Something, glowing and bearing the same head wounds as before. Balance announces a much longer dedication, which includes all those suffering from incarceration, either externally or internally imposed, those with the courage to live life as it should be lived free from the constraints of sexual inhibition and prejudice, and finally to madness. As was evident from the earlier New York show, this performance will be all about madness. Balance performs a series of significant invocationary gestures as they proceed seamlessly into Higher Beings Command, summoning the messengers from beyond and touching them down to the ground. The screened projections, which are identical to the New York show, are magnificent and are brilliantly edited with the close-up live footage (which is shot on stage during the performance). Coil’s line-up was slightly different from New York due to the absence of Martin Schellard and his processed guitar drones, which are absent from the overall sound presentation. Tom Edwards remains on Marimba throughout, and Thighpaulsandra is operating without the mighty Fenix synthesiser, which has been replaced by two smaller analogue keyboards and a theremin. The replacement of the Fenix by these different types of synthesiser gives the Moscow concert a very different and distinctive overall sound, particularly during the strange intense bursts of electricity that occasionally surge forth from the theremin.

As they move into the familiar rendition of Amethyst Deceivers (which is accompanied by a particularly beautiful and hypnotic visual projection) the close-up live footage allows us to see the way Balance is performing the electronic manipulation of his vocals with a hand-controller, which is fascinating to watch. The song offers a controlled prelude to the frenzied outpouring that is What Kind of Animal Are You? If anything Balance’s performance is even more intense, mesmerizing and extraordinary than the New York show. When I was watching this I became uncomfortably aware that Balance is bringing something formless and unnameable into being, he goes to the extreme to manifest a seething force or energy of the animal, and what’s more he succeeds. It is a hauntingly affective moment that displays the kind of total commitment and sincerity that Balance repeatedly displayed in his live performances. This was anything but Coil by numbers (‘just join the dots’). Balance uses the vulnerability of his ‘wounds’ to lay bare his own animal limits, and to summon up deep atavistic reserves and to channel them into being. It was at this point when watching this performance, which is so full of atavistic becoming, seething with erotic excess and a frenzied electronic automatism, that an intuitive link occurred to me – these performances were obviously a deliberate aural approximation of Austin Osman Spare’s atavistic and orgiastic animal magick. Spare’s art was always significant to Coil, and one can find numerous explicit (as well as implicit) references to his art throughout all of their work. Think here of the sidereal recordings that begin with Love’s Secret Domain and continue with Worship the Glitch and Black Light District. It should come as no surprise then that Coil should demonstrate an ambition to manifest Sparean tropes within their live work. To me the Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil era appears to manifest something akin to Spare’s Ugly Ecstasy and Seance art; voluptuous automatic sketches of erotic multidimensional becomings, where Spare employs a looping and sweeping autonomous line that traces the emergent organic forms at the very point of their magickal becoming from out of the shapeless non-organic mass, and strange pastels/paintings where an ethereal space, dominated by the colour green, is haunted by terrifying spiritual sirens.

These are works of interdimensional becoming, suffused by the erotic desire to transgress everyday boundaries of the normative and the organic, and they were always more than mere illustration or representation – the works themselves function as the means for enacting that becoming, they are gateways allowing the spaces for other (frightening, excessive and ancient) things to come through. This, it seems to me, was what Coil were aspiring to in these excessive and violent performances - animal becomings, demonic emergences, the activation of the ancient Ids of the world - Sparean and Lovecraftian manifestations.

The focussed discipline at work is evident in the stark change in dynamics as they perform Blood from the Air. This is about as good a performance of an individual track that Coil ever achieved. Balance is lyrically spot-on, and the song is perfectly paced and faultlessly executed. The intense and frenetic invocation of the previous track gives way to a tremendously bleak and powerful meditation on the inevitability of pain, death and transformation. This in turn acts as a reflective moment before we are once again plunged into the mad terrain of Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil. The demonic angularity and aggression of I Am The Green Child, with the stage bathed in beautiful green light and hypnotic vortices being projected behind them, leads to the inevitable descent into the final climactic episode. As we descend into the utter sonic chaos at the climax of the show the following words are repeatedly screened on the projection - GOD PLEASE FUCK MY MIND FOR GOOD. The DVD recording of the final section of the Moscow show perfectly captures Coil’s efforts to transcribe the seething contorted mass of becoming one perceives in Spare’s work into an aural and performative medium.

Here the Ugly Ecstasy becomes realised in the sheer overwhelming force of the sensory assault Coil manage to conduct. Something formless, unspeakable and previously intangible is glimpsed, felt and experienced during these final few minutes. Like Spare’s own magickal work, Coil also display an awe-inspiring degree of absurd splendour and grandeur that accelerates towards a vertiginous outpouring of dark visceral power. This is an environment momentarily transformed by Coil’s performance into a seething mass where everything appears to be fornicating, the automatism of the complex and layered electronic cacophony allows all kinds of things to become manifest from elsewhere. This is an utterly compelling spectacle, and a true marvel to have it captured on screen. As Coil exit the stage the following words are flashed up on the screen - 'RESIST THE THINGS YOU CAN FIND EVERYWHERE' - amen to that.

Monday, 9 August 2010

Coil - Colour Sound Oblivion: Disc 2: Sonar Festival, Barcelona, 2000

Coil: Colour Sound Oblivion: Disc 2

June 17th, 2000
Coil: Sonar Festival, Barcelona


John Balance
Peter Christopherson
Ossian Brown

Bill Breeze (Viola)

Feeling: Fluffy


Everything Keeps Dissolving

Amethyst Deceivers


The Universe is a Haunted House/Chasms


I was fortunate enough to see Coil play twice, both in 2000. The first time I saw them was their first proper concert performance at the Royal Festival Hall as part of Julian Cope’s Cornucopia programme, performed just over two months before the Sonar performance captured on this disc. This was a perfomance intially billed as The Industrial use of Semen Will Revolutionise the Human Race.The anticipation around Coil’s first London performance was immense, matched only by the speculation surrounding their likely setlist and stage appearance. I remember that I was initially quite startled when Coil came on stage, bathed in a deep purple light, as a four-piece clad in hooded white fluffy costumes covered with miniature mirrors, to take up their places at assigned synthesiser stations in front of a backdrop bearing the John Dee Monad from their 1998 Time Machines album.

They proceeded to perform a relatively ‘short’ set, lasting a mere 40 minutes; yet they played three of the most intense, dynamic and astonishing electronic drones I’d ever heard live. But what I also found striking was their overall stage presence throughout their brief performance; there was an overwhelming sense of them performing a predetermined and highly focussed ritual composed of slow and deliberate movements. I remember being struck by the careful and controlled movement of the four members on stage, it seemed highly choreographed and intentional, compromised of slow synchronised movements and pre-established routines around the stage. Visually it seemed to have the same aura and power as Beckett’s late stage masterpiece Quad.

Coil presented themselves as mysteriously coordinated figures, all clad in identical costumes, tracing out a hidden geometry as if in another dimension than that of the real. Their music suggested an inexorable descent through some kind of fabulous portal akin to the journey undertaken by Bowman during the extraordinary psychedelic sequence in Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. This seemed like a journey in both inner and outer space, as well as being a journey in time. The three pieces of music played that night managed to elaborate very powerful dynamics whilst appearing largely static. This was an experiment in altering our perception of time, and to be an extension to the work previously undertaken in the studio on Time Machines. The performative ritual accompanying this music only added to the sense of a strange elongation of time - slow and careful repetitions across the stage, minimal interactions between the four, indiscernible manipulation of mirrors, crystals, incense, wands, etc, all designed to provide the audience with a very powerful transcendent and magickal experience. The final piece, Chasms, presented a vast backdrop of electronic drones which were punctuated by the most enormous and resonant slabs of electronic sound and Balance intoning as if from another dimension the Crowleyean dictum ‘Every Man and Every Woman is a Star’. By any measure this was an extraordinary and astonishing performance, one of those rare and intense experiences that irrevocably alters you in some ill-defined way.

The live performance on the second disc of the Colour Sound Oblivion collection comprises Coil's second performance from 2000, which was at Barcelona's Sonar festival. For this performance Coil again appeared clad in the fluffy mirrored costumes from the London show. Their set here repeats the pieces they had played live in the earlier Royal Festival Hall show (Everything Keeps Dissolving, Circulating and Chasms), but adds three new songs to the setlist, including a beautiful permutation of Amethyst Deceivers. Coil were joined by Bill Breeze for this performance, playing viola throughout the entire set, adding some astonishing aural flourishes which will be familiar to anybody who has heard his previous work with Coil on the Solstice EPs. Christopherson has managed to successfully edit together two different recordings of the concert, of quite varying visual quality, in order to present a full record of the performance that is somehow faithful to its extraordinarily intense spirit.

As someone who saw Coil’s first performance there is no doubt that some of the highly controlled and mysterious quality of that earlier outing was lost in the transition to a much smaller and more intimate venue, but it still amounts to an extraordinarily odd, strange and entirely original experience. The footage enables us to be up-close and personal with the group as they perform on stage, and we are able to see the levels of intense concentration that accompanied the three longer electronic manipulations being carried out by the group over the top of predetermined aural backdrops.

This is accompanied by some aspects of the same ritual deliberation that had been such a feature of their earlier London performance – mirrors, crystals, incense and coordinated and synchronised movements. Balance appears restrained and intense throughout these pieces. Yet, we also begin to get a sense of what will increasingly become such a central feature of Coil’s subsequent live work – Balance’s unconstrained, unbalanced and totally inspirational performances. The final piece, Elves, (where Coil are joined on stage by a wild ecstatic female dancer) has Balance roaring out, over the top of frenetic electronics, with the fury of a man possessed the words ‘God Please Fuck My Mind For Good’.

The first two concerts performed by Coil in 2000 were truly astonishing, and set the bar extremely high with regard to what they went on to become. Of course they made the decision to proceed, more often than not, with a more ‘traditional’ song-based approach for subsequent sustained tours, yet this was always brutally transgressed by Balance’s anarchic and inspirational improvisations. Coil could never be described as a 'traditional' band. However, watching their 2000 performance from Sonar on this disc, and with my memories of Time Machines Live in London, I’m left with a melancholic sense, had Balance survived his battle with alcoholism, of what else they might have achieved, of what else this astonishing group might have gone on to do as an entity exploring ecstatic passages through time.

Coil - Colour Sound Oblivion: Disc 1: The Air Gallery, 1983

Coil - Colour Sound Oblivion: Disc 1

August 24, 1983
Coil: Air Gallery, London

A Slow Fade to Total Transparency


John Balance
John Gosling
Marc Almond
Peter Christopherson (provided backup tapes)

Cerith Wyn-Evans (cameraman)

“John Gosling, Marc Almond and I performed something called 'A Slow Fade To Total Transparency' (How to Destroy Angels) . . at the Air Gallery on 24th August. This was a mixture of reading by Marc and a performance by John and me. It was videoed and I think it will be released in some form. Also Cerith Wyn-Evans, a super 8 film maker is planning to do a film around the original idea.” (John Balance)

The 1983 Coil performance of A Slow Fade to Total Transparency begins with John Gosling (who appears at the beginning to be wearing some kind of night shirt)and John Balance (who is naked apart from a spiked leather thong) preparing materials for a ritual. Balance, clutching a large syringe, has already wrapped some wire around his head and is in the process of tying a tourniquet around his upper arm. The sound being played at the beginning is from Pasolini’s film Salo, including dialogue taken from the infamous shit banquet where the hapless victims are instructed to ‘Mangia!! Mangia!!’ After a minute Marc Almond begins to read a piece of sustained sadistic loathing seemingly addressed to a former lover over the top of recordings of electronic drones (which are quite indistinct). What follows is an intensely intimate performance by both Gosling and Balance, involving winding themselves tightly in wire, cutting and blood-letting, self-strangulation, smearing with liquids, urination, and performing ritualistic manipulations of various objects, many of which are indiscernible. The performance lasts 23 minutes and ends with Balance affecting a prolonged seizure during which he writhes spasmodically across the floor before being assisted from the room by Gosling.

It is difficult to fully grasp the nature of the intimate and visually arresting ritualistic performance captured on this disc without at least understanding something of its occult context. Both John Gosling and John Balance had been early central members of Psychic TV and The Temple of Psychic Youth, (both appear here bearing the tattoos and haircuts associated with their allegiance to the occult organisation), along with the P-Orridges, David Tibet, Peter Christopherson (who supplies the aural backdrop for this performance) and to a lesser extent Marc Almond (who provides the reading which accompanies this performance). In 1983 Balance and Christopherson were in the process of breaking away from their association with Temple and P-Orridge (having performed a handful of live concerts with Psychic TV in 1982 and 1983), and to establish Coil as a completely autonomous entity in order to go on pursuing their own distinctive and highly focussed path.

As is evident from the early Temple of Psychic Youth video First Transmissions the type of transgressive ritual performed here by Gosling and Balance had already played an important part in the magickal activities of the entire group. The ritual depicted in First Transmissions involves members of the group freely experimenting with different thresholds and boundaries of control, including scarification, blood-letting, sexual experimentation, pain and humiliation. Superficially both the ritual work in First Transmission and this early 1983 public performance by Coil resemble the extreme performance art work of Otto Muehl & Hermann Nitsch of the Vienna Actionists of the late 1960’s and early 1970’s.

Both appear to involve an aggressive visceral quality, attacking the integrity of the body, obsessed with bodily fluids, and overt displays of ritualistic humiliation, pain and control. However, to over-identify in this way is a mistake. Arguably Muehl & Nitsch’s public actions had much more to do with challenging, through art, the historical specificity of post-war Austrian social, psychological and sexual repression and an entire culture that had been intimately complicit with the Nazis. Their work was a deliberate effort to transgress cultural boundaries in a very violent, aggressive, playful and messy way; their intention always being to provide a cathartic Dionysian conduit for all the repulsive tendencies that Austrians had repressed and which had previously found social and political expression through fascism. Far more relevant to this early Coil live piece is the work of Coum Transmissions in the 1970, who were clearly influenced by the extreme and violent anti- aesthetic of Viennese Actionism, but who were much more concerned with the intrinsically mystical and occult nature of transgressive performance.

Coum Transmissions had positioned themselves throughout the early to mid-1970's as largely indifferent to the art world and the high culture of the avant-garde, and had been more concerned with pursuing a highly focussed and disciplined set of very personal (and magickal) concerns surrounding sexuality, identity and freedom. The desire to pursue some of the mystical and magickal aspects of extreme threshold experiences had been carried through the public performance actions of Coum Transmissions by P-Orridge and Christopherson back into the private and intimate realm of the Temple of Psychic Youth. It is in this context within which the early 1983 Coil performance documented on the first disc of the Colour Sound Oblivion box-set should be understood.

However, the experience of performing this piece was clearly a depressing and dispiriting one for Balance, as he once remarked - “When we played at Brixton and the Air Gallery there was no challenge and I ended up very depressed, as for the most part we seemed to be doing it for a jaded, apathetic crowd of art groupies. That's how it seemed. The whole thing was so incestuous and every move you made, everything you did or said was noted and compared to something previous. I feel Coil can move out of that area and I want it to.”

Coil’s attempt to take their private magickal work on threshold experience back out into the public realm (in the aftermath of their steady break from Psychic TV and the Temple), namely through an art performance, seemingly involves a superficial repetition of surface elements drawn from Vienna Actionism and Coum Transmissions. Only in this sense could it ever be judged as somewhat derivative. However, their concerns were perhaps by this point quite radically different from either one of these groups. From another perspective then, one could say that the public form of the performance was simply ill-suited to their actual concerns. Balance’s remarks reveal him to have been deeply disappointed by the experience of performing this action for an art audience, when the magickal and ritual intentions were always beyond the expectations of the London art world in the early 1980’s. The extent to which this performance was and remains art is the extent to which it attempts to connect with an ancient transgressive and threshold experience associated with the very origins of all art (as outlined by Nietzsche and Bataille) . It entails the vertiginous and ecstatic experience of placing the human subject at the very threshold of the animal through rigorous ritualistic experimentation, to somehow undo the fact of being trapped within the confines of the human and attempt to reach a point of indiscernibility between man and animal. Only at the threshold of the human can one ever achieve anything approaching a dematerialised ‘spiritual’ state where one becomes almost ‘transparent’. This is something that remained extremely important to all of Coil’s recorded work undertaken in private and away from the audience for the next seventeen years, as they 'moved out of one area' and into another. However, it is extraordinary to finally be able to watch this early and intense manifestation of Coil and to realise that, despite the fact it is never repeated in public in this form, it somehow holds the key to much that comes later.

Thursday, 5 August 2010

Coil - Colour Sound Oblivion

My copy of the Coil DVD box-set Colour Sound Oblivion (no. 222) was finally delivered this week.

My wife had ordered this earlier in the year as a surprise wedding gift for me, but when completion of the project was unavoidably delayed due to the civil unrest in Bangkok, it became clear that I wouldn't receive it in time for the ceremony and Sleazy was kind enough to post the following personal message which was screened at my wedding.

In just the short time that I’ve spent so far watching some of the live concerts it is obvious that I needed to attempt to write some kind of response and review of them. Coil has been an extremely important part of my life for the past 25 years, in ways that are very difficult to put into words. Throughout all of that time Coil’s work has been a constant companion and inspiration. I was fortunate to see Coil perform live twice in 2000, in the UK. Both performances have remained with me as amongst the most powerful and moving experiences of live performance I have ever witnessed in person. I feel that this DVD set documenting many of the live incarnations of Coil, carefully and lovingly assembled by Peter Christopherson in the aftermath of Jhon Balance’s death, deserves a careful and thorough personal response. Such a monumental presentation of the group's live work serves as a fitting memorial to Jhon Balance and his collaborators. I think that Coil are somehow not finished or behind us, it is not a question of closure, it is a matter of trying to respond to something that was always untimely and to something that remains spectacularly alive.

In the next few weeks I will post a response to each of the live concerts collected in the box. But I want to begin by describing the contents of the box.

The box and its content are a remarkable object, even by Coil’s previous high standards in this regard (ranging from the early Gold is the Metal box set to the super-limited Racing Green edition designed by Ian Johnston).

Contained in a heavy wooden box are 16 DVDs (14 live performances and 2 discs consisting of the live visual projections (designed by Sleazy) and the backing tracks used on a wide array of the tracks covered live), each in their own card sleeve, which are housed in 4 separate cloth bags made from material which duplicate the costumes worn by members of Coil throughout their brief live incarnation between 2000-4.

In addition there is a facsimile of the booklet from Jhon Balance’s funeral in 2004, a booklet of Christopherson’s own reflections on touring and assembling and editing the DVDs and a personalised dedication. Sleazy makes it very clear in his booklet that many of the concerts captured on the discs were often filmed by members of the audience, and that the quality of some of the footage (as well as sound quality) differs markedly across the discs.

The first disc present a video recording made by Cerith Wyn Evans of the early Coil "performance" from August 24th 1983 at the Air Gallery in London. This was called "A Slow Fade to Total Transparency", and I will post a full response to this in the next day or two.