The Restitution of Decayed Intelligence

May 2003

Cover Image

US 10" Beta-Lactam Ring MT032

  1. part 1
  2. part 2 - [MP3]

John Balance
Peter Christopherson
Ossian Brown

450 on black vinyl
50 on black/white marbled vinyl for series subscribers
100 artist copies on black/white marbled vinyl
6 in a wooden box with test pressing and both black and marbled vinyl

If anyone could make something as dry and academic as Musique Concrète into intense, ferociously sexy ear candy, it would have to be Peter Cristopherson and John Balance. This release is the duo's contribution to Beta-Lactam Ring Records' terrific Lactamase series: a subscription series of twelve 10" vinyl records by some of today's best and brightest underground, avant-garde and esoteric musical projects. The series has included some amazing releases from Edward Ka-Spel, Volcano the Bear and Tony Conrad, but the most highly anticipated release is certainly Coil's masterful grand finale to the series. Coil's two-sided 10" occupies a unique place in their discography. It is a truly awe-inspiring tangent into the rarefied realm of musique concrête abstractionists such as Iannis Xenakis, Tod Dockstader and Luc Ferrari. There has always been an element of these musical progenitors in Coil's musick, but their penchant for structured, vocal-driven "songs" have prevented them from ever fully engaging their abstruse tendencies. Both sides of the 10" use the same basic sounds and techniques, but the sculpturing takes different forms on either side. Side A, or "The Restitution of Decayed Intelligence I," introduces the sound palette: a chorus of digital buzzes, stutters and skips that occupy the soundfield at different pitches and volumes. This music is very dimensional, seeming to fly into one's ears at a myriad of different angles. Soon, the high-end stutters are joined by a series of quasi-rhythmic metallic throbs, like the alternating whirr of a flying saucer engine. These elements are then edited, overdubbed and sculpted into dramatic convergences of sound that alternately pierce, arouse and frighten. So many faintly recognizable sounds can be heard in this midst of these abstractions, but the listener cannot discern which are placed there intentionally and which are an accident of subjectivity. A chorus of bone saws, a squeaking hinge, high-pitched shrieking, a mutated voice, swooping metallic shards, granular static: all of these sounds sneak out of the noise over the course of the piece. Side B, or "The Restitution of Decayed Intelligence II," uses the same set of aural phenomena, but this time snatches of recognizable melody become obvious as the piece unfolds. Jhon Balance's warped vocal hiccups from track two of The Remote Viewer are re-used, albeit in a completely inscrutable form, sounding like a swarm of bees frantically trying to communicate with the human race. Halfway through, there is a shocking increase in volume and intensity as the piece gains momentum. It is here that we see Coil's personality come through; this piece, however chaotic, has the same epic sweep as their Love's Secret Domain-era acid house excercises, and all of the dark, hedonistic atmosphere. This 10" manages to be both a brilliantly mature dip into abstract electronic music, and twisted, uber-Pagan ritual musick. After more than 20 years, Coil is still perfectly balancing this strange dichotomy and creating something wholly unexpected and wonderful with each new release. - Jonathan Dean, Brainwashed