Coil - Backwards - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Coil - Backwards

by Ian Fraser Rating:8 Release Date:2015-10-09

Where to start…

My relationship, such as it is, with Coil has always been an uneasy one. Occasionally unlistenable, they could at other times open up and reveal to me in musical terms the mysteries of the universe. To what extent this complex reaction has been shaped by the shadowy characters responsible for the music is a moot point. I never met the key players, the late John Balance or Peter 'Sleazy' Christopherson, so to what extent their unsavoury image was justified I know not.

For all I know they could have refereed kiddies’ football matches after having helped out of a morning in the local charity shops, but there were times where they and their music could scare the shit out of me (and scatology was not a subject of which they were completely ignorant of course).

Welcome to the strange and macabre world of Backwards. Created over a number of years during the 1990s this is Coil’s Smile in that it has waited aeons to receive a proper release although quite a few of the tracks have seen the light of day on the remixed The New Backwards and various compilations. It’s interesting to hear some of these as nature intended, so to speak, for example “A Cold Cell” and “Fire Of The Mind” let alone other tracks that have turned up in various incarnations elsewhere. Much of it is quite frightening in its potent ferocity and unflinching lyrical delivery. The demonic and disturbingly dysfunctional title track references literal or metaphorical sexual acts of an energetic and quite possibly painful kind. “Amber Rain”? We’ll leave it there. There are, however some delicate moments made all the more precious by their close and uneasy proximity to some of the more difficult and challenging (though at times perversely enjoyable) bits and the pioneering quality of much of this is plainly evident.  Whether or not they know it there are many ambient, techno and any number of sub-genre exponents that owe this band a big debt and if Trent Reznor ain’t doffing a cap then I can only assume he doesn’t have one to doff. Favourite tracks, although I must admit they change from listen to listen, include the queasy “Fire Of The Green Dragon”, the march-of-the-baddies, “Be Careful What You Wish For”, which ought to be adopted for a suitable (?) episode of Dr Who and which makes “Come To Daddy” sound like Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star and the exquisitely gruesome twosome “Heaven’s Blade” (danceable, I kid you not) with its eerie violin and “Copa Caballa” (“I want to be stranger, become a shape changer”, quite). The talkie “Paint Me As A Dead Soul” is unlikely to be trotted out in too many eulogies but it definitely works for me and besides, as and when my time comes I won’t be there to take the flack.

It’s an undeniably powerful work, all the more so thanks to the top notch sound quality which only adds to the intensity and really makes those hairs stand up on the back of the neck. I’m just glad I wasn’t listening to this with my Mum. Musik To Play In The Dark, indeed. Worth the wait, though.

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