Unnatural History III (Joyful Participation in the Sorrows of the World)

June 1997

Cover Image

UK CD Threshold House LOCICD 12

  1. First Dark Ride - [MP3] [ESKATON001, FL3183]
  2. Baby Food - [MP3] [SR50]
  3. Music For Commercials [COIL1]
    1. Airline 1
    2. Liqueur
    3. Perfume
    4. Video Recorder
    5. Airline 2
    6. Natural Gas
    7. Cosmetic 1
    8. Cosmetic 2
    9. Analgesic
    10. Road Surface
    11. Accident Insurance
  4. Panic - 12" version [FFK5, FL3183]
  5. Neither His Nor Yours - [MP3] [GPS035, GPS044]
  6. Feeder - [MP3]
  7. Wrong Eye - [MP3] [SX002, SX012]
  8. Meaning What Exactly? - [MP3] [SX012]
  9. Scope - [MP3] [SX002, SX012]
  10. Lost Rivers of London - [MP3]

John Balance
Peter Christopherson
Chris Carter (6)
Cosey Fanni Tutti (6)
Drew McDowall (1, 2, 10)
Stephen Thrower (3-9)
Clint Ruin (4)
Andrew Poppy (3d)
Billy McGhee (3a, double bass on 4)
Martyn Phillips - engineering remix (4)
Nick Blinko - cover artwork

"Panic" is mislabeled in the inside as being the 'Dionysian' remix. "But then again, isn't everything Dionysian." - John Balance.
"Music For Commercials" had to be mastered, and digitally 'tweaked' from the cassette release of The Consequences of Raising Hell because the master tapes have somehow been misplaced.


What fresh hell is this?

Lost Rivers of London

I'm gonna drown myself in London's lost rivers
I will walk down to the rain

From Hubert Montague Crackenthorpe's Vignettes (1896):

I have sat there and seen the winter days finish their short-spanned lives; and all the globes of light - crimson, emerald, and pallid yellow - start, one by one, out of the russet fog that creeps up the river. But I like the place best on these hot summer nights, when the sky hangs thick with stifled colour, and the stars shine small and shyly. Then the pulse of the city is hushed, and the scales of the water flicker golden and oily under the watching regiment of lamps.

The bridge clasps its gaunt arms tight from bank to bank, and the shuffle of a retreating figure sounds loud and alone in the quiet. There, if you wait long enough, you will hear the long wail of the siren, that seems to tell of the anguish of London till a train hurries to throttle its dying note, roaring and rushing, thundering and blazing through the night, tossing its white crests of smoke, charging across the bridge into the dark country beyond.

In the wan, lingering light of the winter afternoon, the parks stood all deserted, sluggishly drowsing, so it seemed, with their spacious distances muffled in greyness: colourless, fabulous, blurred. One by one, through the damp misty air, looked the tall, stark, lifeless elms. Overhead there lowered a turbid sky, heavy-charged with an unclean yellow, and amid their ugly patches of dank and rotting bracken, a little mare picked her way noiselessly. The rumour of life seemed hushed. There was only the vague listless rhythm of the creaking saddle.

The daylight faded. A shroud of ghostly mist enveloped the earth, and up from the vaporous distance crept slowly the evening darkness. A sullen glow throbs overhead: golden will-o'-the-wisps are threading their shadowy ribbons above golden trees, and the dull, distant rumour of feverish London waits on the still night air. The lights of Hyde Park Corner blaze like some monster, gilded constellation, shaming the dingy stars. And across the east, there flares a sky-sign, a gaudy crimson arabesque. And all the air hangs draped in the mysterious sumptuous splendour of a murky London night.

I'm gonna drown myself in the lost rivers of London
I am gonna drown myself in the lost rivers of London

Panic (12" Version)

Out of time and out of place
And out of spite, swallow the spike

With your life sewn open
Breathe in, put the bone back in
Buried under the skin
Murder in reverse

The only thing to fear is fear itself (repeated)


Just say aah

Overall impression: excellent. The line on the back of the cardboard two-fold sleeve probably says it best: "4 tones to facilitate travel through time." The four track names are all chemical names for hallucinogens. The music is drone-based, deep ... very deep ... sub-bass drones that somehow seem to entangle with your very thoughts and emotions as they carry you. I listened to this disc twice with headphones while at work earlier this evening, and although I didn't travel through time, feel like I was traveling through time or achieve an instantaneous erection ... it did give me a strange emotional sensation. I really can't explain it .. the drones maintain a similarity throughout each track, but they shift and become altered without you really realizing what's taking place. They remain what I would call "beautiful" drones, they never become too distorted or resonant ... very haunting yet affirming and all consuming. This disc is another welcome tool, alongside the likes of Aphex Twin's "Selected Ambient Works II", Dead Voices on Air, Propeller, and of course, many Brian Eno and Coil discs, in my collection of ambient and/or ambient/drone works. I sometimes think that JB and PC have come across some greater plane of knowledge that allows them to subliminally communicate with your psyche through sound. Their work is remarkable. Also, be sure to check out the latest single, "Spring Equinox: Moon's Milk or Under an Unquiet Skull". Note: I have not, nor do I intend to use the above disc in conjuction with hallucinogens. I'll leave that to you. - Mark Weddle, Brainwashed

First Dark Ride builds slowly into an ELpH-style techno excursion, but takes a long time to get there, with various side trips through ambiance and vastly varied percussive sections. When the clean beats hit it's like getting thumped in the back of the head with a tube of soft cheese. My head was already bobbing to the previous section and when it paused for a moment, coiling and building up to a sonic orgasm, goose bumps ripped up the back of my head.
Babyfood wasn't at all like what I expected from the name, yet was the first to get airplay on my radio show (a dedication to a friend who just gave birth). Layer upon layer of keyboard beeps and whoops which, after listening, you swear there was a beat in there somewhere but further listening reveals no drums in sight. Where did the imaginary beat come from? The song lurks at a particular energy level where one might expect another instrument to join the frey, so my head must have invented the extra instrument. This song hides around dark corners, and you know of its presence, you expect it to jump out and scream "Boo" at some point, but it enjoys the mystery of the unknown, and never shows itself. Music For Commercials took me the longest time to get into, though I have them on the Hellraiser 10". I thought they were the weakest tracks on the CD, but one day they hit me just the right way. Being limited by the length of a commercial, Coil finds themself having to come up with something in a very short period of time, and they manage to create a number of fine atmospheres, opting to forgo a catchy commercial ditty for a theme which fits the image. Though I've never seen one of these commercials, I can recreate them in my head and know that Coil can bring the piece together in a timely manner. If this CD is an art exhibit, these pictures are the tiny ones clustered together, with frames larger than the viewing surface. Just as interesting, but not as long. Panic is manic. A chaotic deconstruction of an 80's style dance track, still danceable at points, but picture a high school dance with a couple hundred sweaty teenagers bopping to JB's screams, grunts and the repeated phrase, "The only thing to fear is fear itself". Though the students might find themselves dancing more to the cymbals whipping side to side through their heads than the inconsistant drum beat. Ahh...maybe if I was DJ.
Neither His Nor Yours is the shortest single piece, clocking in at 2:48. There is a distinct eastern feel to this track, as a result of the opening plucked string instrument, which is soon overtaken by feedbacking guitar and a small brass section, woven beneath a tapestry of drums tying it all together. By the end of the track, the string instrument re-enters the scene, casting aside the interlopers and reasserting itself as the instrument which gave us this track to begin with. Insert a quick rewinding of the last few seconds a la record spin and it finishes. Feeder immediately establishes an ominous atmosphere with a piano and bass viola and something else, much like what you would find on a dark wet night in an abandoned downtown block. Collaboration with Chris and Cosey brings us a rumbling bass track, reminiscent of a fast moving train, followed by what sounds like African chanting for a few seconds, heralding the arrival of a wall of seething noise. Through this sonic cornucopia, carried by the fast moving train-drum, arises the vocals, heavily processed with low-fi distortion and preverb. The vocals degenerate into moans and heaves, which caused my headphone-enslaved body to arch and stiffen. At the climax of the barrage, it fades, leaving the original piano and bass viola to carry us through the dark, wet city streets.
Wrong Eye is a quirky, yet driven piece with wordless female vocals. Sampled from humans but sang by machine. Almost-traditional drum tracks carry the listener through a landscape of peeking bloops along the back of the female vocal. Up the side of one bloop and down the sweeping back of a twiddled tone, this song directs you safely through a sonic mountain range, if sounds were manifested as rock.
Meaning What Exactly was recorded during the Love's Secret Domain era, this much is obvious. Using much of the sounds discovered in that particular recording playground, it sounds like a dump of all the sounds used during Things Happen. This song worms its way under your skin and coils itself around your peneal gland, squeezing and massaging it, allowing you to enjoy the feeling without reaching for a cigarette to hand to Annie Anxiety.
Scope sounds like it was made from three tracks: one played forwards, one played backwards and another played forward at 1/4 speed. And the drums all line up. The vocals are all played on the slow track, over a rumbling bass guitar and drums going crazy. Kind of reminded me a bit of Butthole Surfers...I heard a song sounding much like this one at a concert of theirs years ago. Definitely something playable live.
Lost Rivers Of London is a slow, echoing track with a vocal melody I find myself humming and whistling while I'm working. Not the version most people here are familiar with, but I haven't heard any other but this one so I can't compare. Excellent control of guitar feedback to provide a canvas for the deep, resonating lyrics. The perfect finish to this gallery of material, when the song ended I just lay where I was and whispered, "wow" into the new silence.

Now I have to exchange my copy with Middle Pillar, cause they accidentally sent the 1 in 1000 limited edition with a small scratch which renders the first minute of Lost Rivers of London unplayable, and makes my player jump all over the place. They're being very good about it, but I don't know if I can stand 2 weeks without this disc anymore :D

by Kyle (VOID) Legate - (legatek@fhs.csu.McMaster.CA)

John Balance says "Telepathine is one of the constituent compounds of Yage, the complex hallucinogenic Shamans drink that can be brewed in as many ways as there are Shamans.I think Telepathine was on of the first to be identified as being present in the brew and as one of Yage's powers is to bestow telepathy on participants thats how it got its name."

Clay Pinn says, "I once blanked out for about 20 mins. while listening to time machines. when i came through, i was extremely disturbed, because, as far as i remember, before i blanked out, i was sitting on the floor in my room, but afterwards, i was standing in my closet, with the door open, and the television was on. one other time, i decided to remain awake throughout the night, and i was listening to moon's milk... it was on repeat. i started having very slight and suggestive hallucinations (this was about 2 in the morning, and, in case you ask, i was not sleepy at all.) soon, i had this very stimulating feeling. i was extremely happy, but totally fucking wierded out (i had to say that). i had these ideas streaming through my head, and i could have sworn that i heard rain falling in my room. it was beautiful... truley one of the best experiences (sans chemicals, as well) i have ever had."