Album review: Coil - Unnatural History - Compilation Tracks Compiled

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16. Aug. 2006, 19:01

Next in line of my series of personal album reviews is Unnatural History.
An album that is officially called: "Unnatural History - Compilation Tracks Compiled". This one was the first of a series that eventually turned out to be three albums containing tracks that were released earlier, and a little less available because of being released on limited singles or EP's, or simply because the tracks can be labeled as 'previously unreleased'.
And face it, if you like Coil and ever felt the pressing need to get a 'complete' collection, one has to make choices. Is complete all the musick or is complete all the releases. If one, as I did, chooses the first option, albums like these are peachy-keen. Simply because some hard to get tracks are suddenly available. For the people who decided that the second choice is theirs, well... Here is yet another title to add to their collection, and -lucky bastards- there is only one cover-design ;)
Albums like the 'Unnatural History'-series are the main reason I decided against reviewing every single single or EP. I collect Coil because of the music, and how much I like doing a thing like this, I can't be arsed writing too often about the same song. Apart from that, I have the plan to keep these reviews sort of interesting and new, so the old copy-paste trick is no option either ;)


As said before, the picture you see here is the only picture ever used for this album. Released in 1990, and never repressed , the options you have nowadays to get some sort of a copy is expansive (eBay or something like that), sheer luck or digital (meaning you pass over to my side of the collectors).

Track list:
[ 1] Various Hands
[ 2] The Swelling of Leeches
[ 3] The Pope Held Upside Down
[ 4] His Body Was a Playground for the Nazi Elite
[ 5] Homage to Sewage
[ 6] Here to Here (Double Headed Secret)
[ 7] S is for Sleep
[ 8] Dream Photography
[ 9] Comfortable
[10] Never
[11] Penetralia II
[12] Sicktone
[13] How to Destroy Angels

The tracks on this album are from earlier recordings that are hard or near impossible to get hold of. The fact that John and Peter are listed as musicians is clear. No Coil without them. Next to them stood Boyd Rice, who collaborated with them whilst recording the first three songs of this album, and (then Coil-member) Stephen Thrower whom later started Cyclobe.
This album saw the light for the first and only time in 1990.
1990 was the year of Beers, Steers And Queers, mixing electronic body music with country. It was the year Public Enemy taught us that "911 is a joke" and Prong made their (my opinion) best album.
A year that began with the arrest of Panamese president Noriega, because of drugs trade (in that time America fought drugs instead of terrorism). Windows 3.0 is officially released by Microsoft in the same year (and I still remember starting it... type "win" at your C:-prompt in DOS, followed by an 'enter'...) And (according to wikipedia) the first known web-page was written in november 1990.
It was the same year that Massive Attack had to rename themselves to "Massive", because "Attack" was a bad idea in a band name, at least, if you wanted to have your tracks played on the radio. "Attack" and the (first) Gulf-war didn't go too well together. December 1990 was the month South-Africa abandoned apartheid. (One of the very few Dutch words that is known worldwide...)
Keith Haring died, and Roald Dahl, to name just two of my heroes.
I was twenty at that time. My first PC would emerge in about three years. I dropped out of school and was working. Most of my money was used to buy music, drinks and drugs. Parties lasted a weekend. I truly enjoyed live, or at least, the parts I knew of it and cared for. It was the last days of the (famous) big squats in the Netherlands and of course, being a punk (or at least feeling one) I had to support that. One of the strangest things that happened that year is that I cannot recall where I was when the Gulf-war started. At that time it felt as big as... Kennedy's assassination, but now it doesn't seem to be that big...
Bollocks, to history... time to move on.

A track by track review:
[ 1] Various Hands
A nice little track, starting with a bit of flute (or flute-like synths) and graduate more symphonic. Later on in the track there is a serious mood-swing as numerous explosions and falling bombs are claiming more and more of the listeners attention.
This is one of the tracks of the EP Coil and Boyd Rice recorded together as Sickness of Snakes. Boyd Rice released this same track as Many Hands on his "The Way I Feel" album.
[ 2] The Swelling of Leeches
The second track from the Nightmare Culture-EP. Side A was a track by Current 93, the three tracks that appeared as side B are the ones I am talking about here. This track starts as a sort of second part of the previous track. Quite industrial, although without the explosions. It is as if the sounds of the equipment are tested. After about a minute there is a slight pause, silence and the second part kicks in...
Err... kicks is not a good word here. There is some sort of electronic trickle with a melody-like line way, way down.
[ 3] The Pope Held Upside Down
Let's start with the title, which sounds like a pretty good idea to me.
Talking about the music Coil makes is sort of hard. There is a number of people reading this (and other) reviews (I hope) who know Coil, and these people can think I am full of shit with the things I say. There is the other group of people, that don't know Coil, and whom are possibly scared away by things I can say that make Coil less accessible.
This track is one that makes me decide to totally shut up. I can not think of an easy, open and honest way to describe this track.
[ 4] His Body Was a Playground for the Nazi Elite
Talking about titles... This one should win an award somewhere.
The opening is like a soundtrack to a big movie. Very, very soon that is about too change, as the music changes to something closest to an air-raid alarm. This track contains (to me, at least) most of the prime ingredients of early Coil. Industrial sound, sounds that make you feel sort of uncomfortable, and a strong composition.
[ 5] Homage to Sewage
As with the previous tracks, there is something with this songtitle. The track itself is as industrial as most of this album. This is one of the tracks I cannot locate (easily) on other releases. (I am sure there is some document, somewhere that will explain it to me, but I cannot be arsed). The track is fitting in the 'Scatology'-era, although it doesn't appear on the demo from 'round that time (at least, not on mine). On of the better tracks here. It is even a bit short-ish.
There is a sample in here from Pasolinio's 'Salò o le 120 giornate di Sodoma'.
[ 6] Here to Here (Double Headed Secret)
As I stated in my Zos Kia review this track is better fitting on this album then on "Transparent". The combination with both previous as the following track is better here.
[ 7] S Is For Sleep
A track that is inviting you to fall asleep.
[ 8] Dream Photography
The intro of this track is a bit... nervous, and throughout the track that nervousness remains, sometimes closer then again further away, but never totally gone. Not my dream.
Allthough, on the other hand. I recall that, during my childhood I had a favourite nightmare...
[ 9] Comfortable
This track is as its name. And much, much to short.
[10] Never
Nice enough track, but I feel it adds to little to the things Coil did. Sorry for Stephen Thrower. I just don't feel anything for this track.
[11] Penetralia II
If you read more of my reviews might have noticed that, at times I can almost taste the musick. This track is like some candy you wish you could taste forever. One of the few really precious pearls on this series of albums (meaning the "Unnatural History" series)
[12] Sicktone
Another Zos Kia track. I do not feel it adds very much to this album. Where "Here to Here" fits better here, this one is much stronger as an opening track then on this album.
[13] How to Destroy Angels
The very first release Coil ever did using the name 'Coil' was this track. Food for collectors ;)

Overall I feel this is one of the less accessible Coil-albums. To be honest, it is one of the least noticeable ones. It added very little to the Coil I know and like. I know I haven't done so in my earlier reviews, and I don't know if I am to change that (since this is pure ego-trippin') but I am to add a mark to this album... out of a possible 10, this album only gets 5 points... just barely.

Previous reviews:
Zos Kia - Transparent
Coil - Scatology
Coil - Horse Rotorvator
Coil - Gold Is The Metal (with the broadest shoulders)
Akzeptierte Übermittlungen
Coil, Current 93, Brainwashed

Kommentare

  • endovelico93

    the first coil album i bought (on second hand!). S is for sleep is one of my all time coil fav.'s along side with the how to destroy angels tittle track. keep on the nice job!

    17. Sep. 2006, 12:25
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