I have a fascination with extreme music. It’s not so much that I like listening to most of it so much as I’m simply infatuated by how far outside the mainstream it is. My self-perception is that I’m more interested in the fact that it exists, the people who perform it, and the people who actively follow it than I am in the music itself. I’ve always been fascinated with subcultures, especially those on the extreme fringes, so I suppose this is a natural extension. If I’m self-analyzing, and clearly I am, this infatuation is possibly a kind of respect (or envy….?) for those who live the life they choose to live even when it is well outside of what society deems normal or, at times, even acceptable. Do I have some hidden longing to exist as an outsider? Maybe… though I doubt it. I don’t have any fundamental problems with my suburban life, or my job, or anything like that. Most of the time I enjoy it. Ultimately I think it comes down to admiring those with the drive to follow their passions, even when their passions take them to difficult places. It’s not so much what they’re doing, it’s how they’re doing it.
Which brings me to this recently acquired copy of The Fight Is On. This comp is filled with the kind of outlier artists who intrigue me – Coil, Nurse With Wound, Current 93, The Hafler Trio… musicians who take approaches to music that are well outside of the mainstream, sometimes going so far that you could consider them anti-music. I’m fascinated by them, and while none are on regular rotation in my life, when I listen to them their sonic compositions do have an effect on me. Not anything clearly defined, mind you. There are no fantasies that arise from hearing them. But what they do is they change the way I perceive, which in essence is changing the way my brain is wired, opening me up to new and different and unexpected possibilities to see things in different ways. And that’s something valuable, not just in how I interact with music, but also in how I interact with the world.
The nine tracks on The Fight Is On are on the more elemental end of the spectrum, songs that create a mood without generating a sense of anxiety or dread. So once again I’ve been thrown for a loop, as The Fight Is On did not give me what I expected from these performers. Instead I have something bordering on enjoyable. Which of course begs the question – would I have felt this way hearing The Fight Is On say five years ago… or has my paradigm shifted in ways that change how I perceive these songs today? My money is on the latter, and for that I’m grateful.
There are three songs on this 12″ from Coil, and all three bring something different to the party. “Aqua Regis” is the stuff nightmares are made from, and industrial horror show from the deepest recesses of the most primitive parts of the brain. I mean, just look at the cover of this thing – if that image isn’t nightmare fuel, I don’t know what is. However, “Panic” is some great industrial dance, metallic beats and more structured than its predecessor, though the vocal interlude is creepy as hell (and it sort of sounds like they sampled some Led Zeppelin era Robert Plant with some of the moaning). The B side is given over to an industrial cover of “Tainted Love” that will peel the paint off your soul, if you have one. Even played at 45 rpm you’re left thinking, “wait, is the speed too slow?” It’s not. It feels like something being sung by a homicidal stalker. Meaning it’s pretty great.
Clearly the date of this release is not indicative of when the music was composed given that both members of Coil passed away years ago, John Balance in 2004 and Peter Christopherson in 2010. Both of these 12+ minute tracks appeared previously contemporary to their creation, “Another Brown World” in 1989 and “Baby Food” in 1993. I’m not precisely sure why Sub Rosa Label chose these two to be part of this release, though I have to give them credit because the pair compliment one another well. Both are chill electro goodness with a subtle undercurrent of darkness. Not industrial per se, though still conveying a slight sense of potential danger without being anxiety-inducing – you can sit back with your eyes closed and let the slowly wash over you like a subtly advancing tide.
Both tracks can be heard HERE on the label’s Bandcamp page. You can also buy the limited edition marbled vinyl, though I’m perfectly happy with my black version which was half the price and sounds clean as can be.
On this record, hopefully the first of a series, we have tried to produce sound which has a real, practical and beneficial power in this modern Era. Specifically, it is intended as an accumulator of male sexual energy.
I posted the other day about finding a comp with a Chris & Cosey track on it, which struck me as fortuitous and more than a bit coincidental given that I’m currently readying Cosey Fanni Tutti’s new autobiography Art Sex Music. What I failed to realize at the time is that the other record I picked up that same day from the Silver Platters new arrival bin also had a connection to Tutti – Coil’s 1984 single-sided 12″ How To Destroy Angels. And that connection was the band Throbbing Gristle, in which Chris, Cosey, and Coil’s Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson all performed together.
Although we make neither claims nor rules for its use, we do suggest that for maximum potency it should only be played in circumstances that are exclusively male and/or onanistic in nature. What these are is entirely up to you.
How To Destroy Angels is often described as industrial, and there is a bit of a traditional industrial component to the composition, specifically the use of non-traditional methods of generating sound. Yes, there are electronics involved. But there are also metallic objects being banged together as well as the occasional sword fight (yes, I said sword fight). The overall structure is that of a religious-like drone, a constant undercurrent of deep and sustained gong sounds that make the metallic percussion (and sword fighting) a bit jarring due to their unexpectedness after having been lulled into a bit of a stupor by the drone-ish qualities.
The B side of this record is a bit of a conundrum, with at least five different versions reported on Discogs. Mine is the completely grooveless, which I believe was Coil’s original intent. Other versions, however, have grooves and different kinds of sounds on that side, at least one of which is described as musical while the others as just noise and/or tones.