April 21, 2009

Coil - Time Machines (1998, Eskaton)

This is one of my favorite drone ambient releases of all time. Coil had a long history of making music with “magickal” undertones and symbolism, and this may be their most potent, altered-state-inducing work. Subtitled “four tones to facilitate travel through time”, the album is comprised of four long tracks (two are over 20 minutes each), each bearing the chemical formula of a hallucinogenic substance. Indeed, the album presents a very hallucinatory listening experience. Each track immerses the listener in a buzzing, shifting drone, constantly morphing and evolving, establishing and dissolving subtle patterns and repeating textures. The sound is electronic but essentially timeless, with some elements that resemble organic instrumentation like digeridoo or guitar feedback. Generally there is a warm, buzzy synth sound to the tracks. There is something unsettling and alien about the overall tone of each piece, which is a common characteristic in Coil’s music. I’m not entirely certain this would actually be good “trip music”, but then, Coil were on a whole other level, it seems, and they seemed very comfortable flirting with the darkness in their music. This is not what you’d call “chill out music”. Even if you haven’t got any 5-MeO-DMT on hand, Time Machines will serve as quite a consciousness-altering device on its own. I actually had the double LP edition of this release many years back, but sold it during a period of madness. “Essential” is a good word for this album.