Tuesday 6 October 2015

Review: Coil – 'Backwards'


If any album was the epitome of a difficult birth then it was Coil's 'Backwards'. First conceived 23 years ago as the follow-up to 1990's seminal 'Love's Secret Domain', the album was in a production limbo originally slated for a 1993 release on Torso Records, but then after further studio sessions it was earmarked for a release on Nothing Records. The demos eventually emerged as a studio bootleg, but the album proper never appeared. The music saw release in a heavily altered form on 2005's 'The Ape Of Naples' and then as the remixed and reworked 'The New Backwards' in 2008. Finally though, thanks to Danny Hyde, the album sees an official release as originally intended.

With its heavily experimental and dark ambient leanings the album is a bridge of sorts between 'Love's Secret Domain' and 'Music To Play In The Dark'. The album sees a stunning collection of vocal performances from the late Jhonn Balance which are simply haunting. Tracks such as 'Backwards', ‘A Cold Cell’, and ‘Fire Of The Mind’ will be familiar to fans having appeared on 'Live Three' and various compilations respectively. But this release showcases the tracks as they were supposed to be heard.

The songs on display on 'Backwards' such as the afore mentioned three, as well as the sombre cuts 'Amber Rain', 'CopaCaballa' and 'Paint Me As A Dead Soul', the schizophrenic rhythms of 'Be Careful What You Wish For' and 'AYOR (It's In My Blood), and the near psychedelic 'Heaven's Blade' are all undeniably strong tracks that are long overdue an official inclusion in the Coil canon.

The production is kind of in keeping with the band's early-to-mid 90's output. Rough, experimental, but hypnotically beautiful. It's been mastered well but it feels very much of its era and not an attempt at a full overhaul of the original recordings. In that respect it is very satisfying and sounds right at home amongst the band's 90's releases.

'Backwards' needed an official release. Coil is too much of an important band to have great unreleased albums like this that aren't in the public arena to be listened to and exert an influence on the next generation of electronic artists. If you are a hardcore fan who has been waiting for this release to complete your collection, you won't be disappointed. Neither will you be disappointed if you are new to the band and still exploring their interplay of light and dark as this release is a fine example of Coil walking the line between experimental and commercial. Quite simply, it has been worth the wait.  

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