Sunday, March 27, 2011

5 Star Corner: Coil - Autumn Equinox (Amethyst Deceivers) (Eskaton)

I urge you to do the following:

1. Procure a copy of this EP. I won't tell you to shell out the 100$+ I've seen it go for on eBay - though it might almost be worth it - but get it somehow.

2. Turn off the lights.

3. Put on some headphones - good headphones - and hit play.

4. Close your eyes. Do NOT open them until the EP is over.

Why go through all this? Well, it's all about the experience with any Coil album, the process of letting the overall feeling of things enfold you and put you somewhere that you'd never think music can take you. This is especially true of the era that this EP fully ushers in after having it hinted at on the previous two Equinox/Solstice EPs: the Music to Play in the Dark era, or my favorite era of the band's output. The most moody, the most evocative, the most layered, the most transportative. Autumn Equinox might actually be the highlight of this particular model of the band; at the very least it's the most gently evocative 20 minute span that they can claim responsibility for, and that's definitely a feat for these guys.

The word that I keep coming back to when I think of this album is 'regal.' The mood may be gentle, but the execution is lush, opulent and full of splendor. "Rosa Decidua" lets a trio of vocals - one angelic, one sinister and one soulful - bounce off each other as if they're at opposite walls of a great hall, echoing over and through each other. The subsequent instrumentals are equally open, if that makes sense. I mean that they sound like they've got more breathing room than your average Coil nightmare piece - "Switches" in particular is full of powerful moments of near silence that punctuate the escalating intensity of the various odd sounds that the instrumentalists are throwing at you. It's a necessary breather before the much more grand and stunning "The Auto-Asphyxiating Hierophant," which even more so that "Rosa Decidua" plays with the openness of the EP's sound. At its core there's a sinister orchestral fanfare, around that, there's complimentary vocals coming from either side, and no matter what they're saying the message is that you should be afraid by now. That orchestral fanfare? It's coming for you on heavy feet that sound like they're getting closer. You should run now but you don't know where you are.

In this scope, the finale of "Amethyst Deceivers" represents a peaceful death. It's a stunning piece - even more so here than on The Ape of Naples - of effortless, soothing beauty as if to calm you down after the nightmare fuel of the previous track. Instead of telling you to be afraid, the vocals are now telling you that you'll be alright. The music is spare yet full, driven along by a simple upright bass and a meandering harpsichord that never quite become a unit, but somehow anchoring the track when put together. It's as free as the EP gets, never seeming to repeat itself but still getting to the hypnotic, lulling place that the calmer parts of the Music to Play in the Dark series occupied. And then it ends on a soothing yet spooky note with Jhonn Balance whispering the title while panning from one ear to the other. All in all it might be my favorite Coil track of all time, or at least the one I'm most likely to have played at my funeral. [9.6/10]

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