COIL: Colour Sound Oblivion (advance edition)

Colour Sound Oblivion (advance edition)
(Threshold House)

Coil’s Colour Sound Oblivion, the pioneering industrial/electronic group’s exhaustive 16-disc live DVD box set, is a treasure to behold, amassing 14 performances plus a slew of goodies in a beautiful hand-made package.

The shows captured here present a timeline of how the group’s performances began and changed over time – from the harsh, noisy assaults of the first to the slower, melancholic vibes of the last. As the only definitive visual source of live Coil, everything worth watching is here, including their only U.S. gig at New York’s Irving Plaza in 2001.

Electronic music concerts tend to be heavy on the visuals for good reason, and Coil created images often as disturbing as their music. Bizarre costumes, warped video projections, naked men in head-to-toe makeup regurgitating blood and nearly molesting the audience – all pair comfortably with John Balance’s possessed performances, which often make up for his sometimes limited vocal abilities.

Songs are performed from across Coil’s recorded catalogue, with the focus on then-newer material. There are few moments as electrifying as those captured during the death-by-audio Armageddon of “Constant Shallowness Leads to Evil,” during which Balance repeatedly throws himself headlong into a hanging metal sheet, while a fiery projection flashes slogans like “GOD PLEASE FUCK MY MIND FOR GOOD.”

The downside to the set is that quality can vary – some shows are professionally filmed and look fantastic, while some come from single cameras and are nearly bootleg quality. But everything generally looks great, and the sound is usually very good.

You even get Coil’s last concert, performed just three weeks before Balance’s death. It’s eerie, grim and unique amongst the rest, prophetically ending with the funereal “Going Up.”

Let’s not forget the packaging: a hand-made wood box holds the DVDs, each in notated cardboard sleeves tucked into four cloth wallets, each made of the band’s different costume materials. Also included are discs of the band’s live video projections with backing tracks, insightful printed pamphlets, more than 100 photos, and in some cases, personalized dedication cards and totemic gifts.

For any devoted fan, this set is indispensable, and it’s a credit to surviving member Peter Christopherson for getting it all together. But for those that don’t want to shell out for the whole lot, don’t worry: there are plans to release individual DVDs sometime in 2011.

Colour Sound Oblivion is available only from Coil’s official site, www.thresholdhouse.com. A regular edition with a more pared down package (but with the same DVDs) will be available shortly.

For an in-depth review with additional pictures, and a disc-by-disc breakdown with set lists, visit: http://selfsensored.wordpress.com/2010/08/16/coil-colour-sound-oblivion/

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About John Mordecai

John Mordecai is a musician and writer from New Haven, Conn. He was the bassist for Brooklyn-based ERAAS (formerly APSE), and also plays (sometimes) in New England-based Shark and Brooklyn's The Tyler Trudeau Attempt. He also maintains a blog (sometimes) at http://selfsensored.wordpress.com/
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