Coil

Unnatural History III

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The Unnatural History series attempts, much like Stereolab's Switched On series, to collect scattered EP and compilation tracks from throughout Coil's career. This one covers mostly early-'90s material, centering on songs recorded around Love's Secret Domain, but it also includes some rare tracks dating back to the mid-'80s. "First Dark Ride" and "Baby Food" are excellent long-form explorations into sound sculpture, not resembling "songs" per se, but atmospheres and textures. These are followed by the intriguing "Music for Commercials," 11 bits of incidental music used in adverts for products like natural gas, accident insurance, perfume, and analgesics. Peter Christopherson's background in commercial video production and album design probably played a hand in getting the work. Coil transcend any accusations of "selling out" by creating music that still has their imprimatur on it, but work in a commercial setting. Very unique and unlike anything else in the Coil catalog. Also included is "Feeder," collaboration with Chris & Cosey. One of the more creepy songs on the album, a solo piano and cello begin the piece but are buried under a wall of noisy dub effects and John Balance's unearthly vocals, only to re-appear playing a twisted slow waltz. In Coil's extensive discography, this is a standout, but probably not the best place for neophytes, who would be better served by Love's Secret Domain or Stolen and Contaminated Songs.

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