September 19, 2002

Ed's Underground

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Ah, LSD, how I love you. Without this hallucinogenic drug, we wouldn’t have Coil’s masterpiece Love’s Secret Domain (yeah, look at the initials). Always experimental and never willing to sit still in one style for long, Coil has been the ultimate goth/techno/industrial/ambient/metal band since the early 80s, and this 1991 album is just one example of their genius.

This particular record is one of Coil’s most dance-oriented LPs, with a strong emphasis on melody and rhythm that is pretty rare in their tremendous catalogue. The opening of “Disco Hospital” and “Teenage Lightning 1” establishes the mood early — both songs are rhythmically complex and surprisingly upbeat. But the mood changes drastically with the creepy “Things Happen,” a dark tale narrated by a very threatening German woman, who manages to turn lines like “Do you like chilis in Ohio?” into the scariest thing you’ve ever heard. The song reads like a transcription of a night that probably ends in someone’s murder.

“Windowpane” is another creepy vocal song, this time with lyrics delivered in a deadpan British accent by head Coil guru John Balance himself. Elsewhere, Coil creates the kind of eerie atmospheric instrumentals they’re best at — slow, tense tracks built on molasses-slow melodies and horror movie sound effects. “Dark River” is one of the better atmosphere songs the band has done, with vaguely Oriental pluckings over a bed of clanging bells.

“Further Back and Faster” incorporates didgeridoo into the mix for a foreboding tribal sound. The album closes with the excellent title track, narrated by Balance with true disgust; he spits out words as if the very sound sickens him, and the music is full of tension.

While other electronic acts are content to stick close to accepted clich