Coil: Time Machines

Dais Records reissues a relic of Coil's discography with Time Machines, acting as the latest reminder of the brilliance of the experimental act and the forward thinking music they represented.

Coil was one of the bands that helped forge extreme experimental music during the '80s. Far ahead of its time, the band led by John Balance and Peter Christopherson constructed forward thinking music, incorporating noise, industrial, electronic and no-wave elements. Providing a non-linear concept when it came to its progressions, the music of Coil became was always extravagant, from the days of Scatology, Horse Rotorvator and Gold Is The Metal With The Broadest Shoulders, to their later releases in Black Antlers and The Ape of Naples.


Time Machines

US Release: 2017-10-13
UK Release: 2017-10-13
Label: Dais

Coil always tempered with drone music, something that was a prevalent attribute even in their debut album. The work that saw them diving head first into that area was the How To Destroy Angels EP, and its subsequent remixes, but the one recording where the band went full on drone tends to remain obscure. In 1998, Christopherson and Balance, working with fellow band member Drew McDowall, released a record under the Time Machines moniker, considering the work in question to travel too far out of the no-wave territory and therefore could not be released under the Coil name. In following years, the band begun to embrace this part of its history, and so Time Machines became a part of the officially discography of Coil, and today it is being re-released by Dais Records on a remastered format.

The foundation of the record was built by Drew McDowall, before Balance and Christopherson came into the fold and started crafting the compositions. Fascinated by the subject of chemical substances, the four movements of the record are named after different types of chemical compounds of the hallucinogenic drug they were composed for. But the investigation that the band is performing here does not remain solely on the psychedelic domain, but moves to the essence of time perception, and more specifically what Balance called “temporal slips", with the music said to enable the dissolution of time for both the performers and the audience.

The slow moving drones featured in the record do introduced this illusion of timelessness. Stripping away the sensation of time, the band dives into a bottomless abyss, filled with ritualistic and spiritual leanings. The fact that Coil found influence in Tibetan ceremonial music and other religious practices and embraced the concept of meditation is no coincidence. The music features a transcendental quality, allowing for a deep level of introspection through its meditative outlook, much like the drugs these songs were crafted for.

The abstract form of the record is overwhelming, moving in a lethargic pace, with the soundscapes forming and dissolving endlessly. But it is the slight deviations that offer the necessary trippy interludes, either in the sustained notes of “Telepathine" or the sharper synths of “DOET-Hecate", they enhance the psychedelic experience. Combining with the circular motifs to unleash the full hallucinatory effects of the music, the sounds begins to take form, mimicking collisions of huge celestial bodies.

Through the record, the experience displays an electrifying sense, not unlike an underlying buzz of current running through wires, is always present beneath the surface. It provides this strange sensation of a presence, something that has physical form, yet it is too abstract to be understood. “5-MeO-DMT" appears with in a very live manifestation, as if the sound that comes through the speakers is an actual living organism, each breath radiating with heat, something that forces the experience to intensify to no end.

Time Machines is a relic of recent forgotten times. Considering that the album was released 20 years ago, it is very interesting to see how timeless its scope feels today. The music simply fits any time, moving beyond the notions of structure, progression and form, embracing the complete loss of self and reveling in the wisdom gained by that knowledge. As with most of Coil's works, Time Machines is a gem of experimental music.





Run the Jewels - "Ooh LA LA" (Singles Going Steady)

Run the Jewels' "Ooh LA LA" may hit with old-school hip-hop swagger, but it also frustratingly affirms misogynistic bro-culture.


New Translation of Balzac's 'Lost Illusions' Captivates

More than just a tale of one man's fall, Balzac's Lost Illusions charts how literature becomes another commodity in a system that demands backroom deals, moral compromise, and connections.


Protomartyr - "Processed by the Boys" (Singles Going Steady)

Protomartyr's "Processed By the Boys" is a gripping spin on reality as we know it, and here, the revolution is being televised.


Go-Go's Bassist Kathy Valentine Is on the "Write" Track After a Rock-Hard Life

The '80s were a wild and crazy time also filled with troubles, heartbreak and disappointment for Go-Go's bass player-guitarist Kathy Valentine, who covers many of those moments in her intriguing dual project that she discusses in this freewheeling interview.


New Brain Trajectory: An Interview With Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree

Two guitarists, Lee Ranaldo and Raül Refree make an album largely absent of guitar playing and enter into a bold new phase of their careers. "We want to take this wherever we can and be free of genre restraints," says Lee Ranaldo.


'Trans Power' Is a Celebration of Radical Power and Beauty

Juno Roche's Trans Power discusses trans identity not as a passageway between one of two linear destinations, but as a destination of its own.


Yves Tumor Soars With 'Heaven to a Tortured Mind'

On Heaven to a Tortured Mind, Yves Tumor relishes his shift to microphone caressing rock star. Here he steps out of his sonic chrysalis, dons some shiny black wings and soars.


Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras' tētēma Don't Hit the Mark on 'Necroscape'

tētēma's Necroscape has some highlights and some interesting ambiance, but ultimately it's a catalog of misses for Mike Patton and Anthony Pateras.


M. Ward Offers Comforting Escapism on 'Migration Stories'

Although M. Ward didn't plan the songs on Migration Stories for this pandemic, they're still capable of acting as a balm in these dark hours.


Parsonsfield Add Indie Pop to Their Folk on 'Happy Hour on the Floor'

Happy Hour on the Floor is a considerable departure from Parsonsfield's acclaimed rustic folk sound signaling their indie-pop orientation. Parsonsfield remind their audience to bestow gratitude and practice happiness: a truly welcomed exaltation.


JARV IS... - "House Music All Night Long" (Singles Going Steady)

"House Music All Night Long" is a song our inner, self-isolated freaks can jive to. JARV IS... cleverly captures how dazed and confused some of us may feel over the current pandemic, trapped in our homes.


All Kinds of Time: Adam Schlesinger's Pursuit of Pure, Peerless Pop

Adam Schlesinger was a poet laureate of pure pop music. There was never a melody too bright, a lyrical conceit too playfully dumb, or a vibe full of radiation that he would shy away from. His sudden passing from COVID-19 means one of the brightest stars in the power-pop universe has suddenly dimmed.


Folkie Eliza Gilkyson Turns Up the Heat on '2020'

Eliza Gilkyson aims to inspire the troops of resistance on her superb new album, 2020. The ten songs serve as a rallying cry for the long haul.


Human Impact Hit Home with a Seismic First Album From a Veteran Lineup

On their self-titled debut, Human Impact provide a soundtrack for this dislocated moment where both humanity and nature are crying out for relief.


Monophonics Are an Ardent Blast of True Rock 'n' Soul on 'It's Only Us'

The third time's the charm as Bay Area soul sextet Monophonics release their shiniest record yet in It's Only Us.


'Slay the Dragon' Is a Road Map of the GOP's Methods for Dividing and Conquering American Democracy

If a time traveler from the past wanted to learn how to subvert democracy for a few million bucks, gerrymandering documentary Slay the Dragon would be a superb guide.


Bobby Previte / Jamie Saft / Nels Cline: Music from the Early 21st Century

A power-trio of electric guitar, keyboards, and drums takes on the challenge of free improvisation—but using primarily elements of rock and electronica as strongly as the usual creative music or jazz. The result is focused.


Does Inclusivity Mean That Everyone Does the Same Thing?

What is the meaning of diversity in today's world? Russell Jacoby raises and addresses some pertinent questions in his latest work, On Diversity.

Collapse Expand Reviews
Collapse Expand Features
PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.