Live Four CD

Four live-CDs set out to capture the spirit of Coil's latest (and presumably last) concert tour in 2002. "Live Four" comprises recordings from the tour's final concerts held in Vienna and Prague, and in true backwards-fashion this CD has been released first in the live album series.

Coil have been around for ages (well, actually for about 20 years), and they are one of the very few bands that have not become redundant or embarrassing over such a long period of time. Ever since Coil's masterminds Peter (aka Sleazy) Christopherson and John (aka Jhon) Balance have stepped out of the shadows of Psychic TV and Zos Kia, their music has proved to be weird, cynical and haunting, and despite their occasional cuddling with electronic dance music during the "Snow"- and "Windowpane"-period, there has always been a distinctive quality to their music that has differentiated them from the rest.

Peter and John don't regard themselves as gifted musicians (in fact, Coil's oeuvre goes far beyond music), but they have a real talent in creating fascinating works that range from brutal noise to film music and even contemporary classical. Coil dwell firm on the outer fringes of sinister underground art and keep evolving, incorporating new means of sound production as well as influences from younger acts like Autechre.

Still, there's a lot of artists that manage to build up a myth by their recording output, but blow it completely in a live situation. Not so with Coil - they very rarely play live and some things you should not expect from a Coil concert are: stupid rock-star mannerisms, a "Best of" set of songs and any kind of predictable stage show. Part of last year's tour featured an acoustic set including a hurdy-gurdy, while "Live Four" captures the electronic leg. Enter Peter, John, Simon Norris, Thighpaulsandra and performance artists Massimo and Pierce of Black Sun Productions.

Even though the visual aspect of the shows is not captured on the CD (it will be included in the live-DVD-series Peter and John are recently working on), you won't miss it - "Live Four" stands on its own. The disc starts off with the penetrating sound of a modulated low-to-high-pitched frequency that turns into "I Am Angie Bowie (Sine Waves)", and the rest of the CD resembles a medley through Coil's musical oeuvre, with bits and pieces taken from here and there, some recognizable, some not.

Even the songs that stay relatively close to the original recordings, like "Are You Shivering" and "Ostia (The Death Of Pasolini)", have been manipulated and rendered to completely new versions of the original. "Bang Bang (Sonny Bono)" is a bit of a surprise: sort of an ironic murder ballad, carried by a simple piano line - in fact, it is a cover version of a song by Cher! And "An Unearthly Red", a brilliant electronic beat monster pounding along with the force of a freight train, is apparently a very cynical comment on the president of the United States of America: "God told him to do it. He heard messages from God".

"Live Four" is an excellent document of Coil's 2002 live performances, and while it captures a bit of the live atmosphere, it works equally well as another Coil album with alternative versions of older songs and some new material - or as a testimony for the warped genius of John Balance and Peter Christopherson.

(rh 09/MMIII)

Label: Eskaton/Threshold House
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God told him to do it...