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Coil, "The Remote Viewer" / "Black Antlers"

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Two of the more difficult to find albums from the Coil back catalogue have been reissued with new mixes and material bundled on. While most reissues don’t need a new review, considering these albums have been expanded and remixed, a reappraisal is in order. This is especially true of Black Antlers which was essentially only a demo disc in its original incarnation.



Threshold House

The Remote Viewer was first released as a CD-R in an edition of 500 (review here), the first disc is the exact same material as on the original release and my views mirror that of Mr. Carsten’s linked earlier in this sentence. The second disc (a 3” CD embedded in plastic to make it the same size as a regular CD, a ‘semi-substrate’ disc apparently) features two pieces created in 2006 using material from the original Remote Viewer sessions. These new pieces, predictably titled “Remote Viewing 4” and “Remote Viewing 5,” are more of the same hurdy gurdy and Breton bagpipe drones and beats that are on the original disc. There’s more emphasis on glitches and the beat on “Remote Viewing 4,” giving a more aggressive edge to the music. “Remote Viewing 5” removes most of the drone and goes the warped melody route. Both tracks are worthy additions to the album.




Black Antlers hasn’t been as elusive as The Remote Viewer but it is still one of those Coil limited editions that deserved a wider release. As the original version of this album was a collection of work in progress sketches (reviewed here), it is interesting to hear how Peter Christopherson and Danny Hyde have polished and updated the album. Some of the tracks have been cleaned up or, as in the case of “Wraiths and Strays,” completely replaced. This version of “Wraiths and Strays” is taken from a Paris show where Jhonn Balance was present and replaces the unBalanced Montreal version from the original version of the CD. I’ve always found the Montreal “Wraiths and Strays” fades into the background far too easily. However this Parisian incarnation of the song grabs the attention more with the hurdy gurdy and marimba adding far more depth to the piece. Not to mention Balance’s live vocals which sound desperately sad.

“Sex with Sun Ra (Part One – Saturnalia)” was quite rough sounding on the original album, an alarming amount of hiss permeating the mix. Nonetheless it was still the jewel of Black Antlers. I was expecting it to be cleaned up (a cleaner sounding version has been leaked online previously) but unfortunately the hiss is still there. In lighter news, the second part of “Sex with Sun Ra” has been included on the album. “Sex with Sun Ra (Part Two – Sigillaricia)” is quite different to what I expected which was a reprise of the song in a similar way to the different versions of “Teenage Lightning” on Love’s Secret Domain. It is more of a mutated remix with added Breton bagpipe. I like it but it doesn’t reach the same heights as the first part.

There is also a semi-substrate CD included that contains a couple of remixes. “Departed” is a dancier version of “Black Antlers” which isn’t doing much for me now but will probably grow on me. It lacks the claustrophobic sting of “Black Antlers.” “Things We Never Had,” takes elements from all over the Coil back catalogue (mainly using "Black Antlers" and "Sex with Sun Ra" as its base). It feels almost like a greatest hits compilation condensed into one track. It’s good but it makes me want to listen to all of the original songs instead.

Both Black Antlers and The Remote Viewer have been repackaged in attractive wallet sleeves, which are much nicer to hold than the home printed sleeves of the originals. These two albums have always warranted a better release (both in format and size of the edition) than they initially got so it is great to see these finally getting the circulation that they deserve. Granted I didn’t own a copy of The Remote Viewer beforehand but I certainly don’t feel cheated buying Black Antlers again.


Last Updated on Tuesday, 05 September 2006 16:22  


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