Album review: Coil - Love's Secret Domain


Ago 31 2006, 19h53

The next chapter of my series of Coil reviews.
Since this one is about Love's Secret Domain, and there is quite a bit to be said about this album I can imagine people looking forward to this one ;)

Released in 1991 (finally...) this was the first new Coil-release in 4 years.
1991. The year of Plague Mass, which happens to be one of the most impressive live-performances I ever heard. the same year of TYRANNY >FOR YOU<, and the same year Japan did a non-comeback as Rain Tree Crow. Oh, and, as Wikipedia kindly reminds me, it is the year that the world discovered Seattle and thus grunge. Never really liked it.
1991 was the year I went back to give school another try after a few years of work. A hard time, being used to have quite a bit of money, I suddenly became an continously broke student. No fun...
The world was sort of shocked that year by IRA-attacks on London, the continuing (and 'ending') of the first Gulf-war, the beating of a R. King in LA and the independence of Latvia, lithuania and Estonia (and a number of other former Soviet states). Yoguslavia sees her last days as a country and one by one former states declare their independence. A world in motion...
It was the year of the very first internet (or world wide web)-like network, and the first time ever that the superNES can be bought. This is also the year that there is something of a mentioning of the first Linux Kernel. 1991 was the year of Freddie Mercury untimely demise. He died due to the complications that came with HIV/AIDS.
I guess that is about enough history. We have a bit of an image again of the first year of the nineties. Let me go on with the album itself...

Track list:
[ 1] Disco Hospital
[ 2] Teenage Lightning 1
[ 3] Things Happen
[ 4] The Snow
[ 5] Dark River
[ 6] Where Even the Darkness is Something to See
[ 7] Teenage Lightning 2
[ 8] Windowpane
[ 9] Further Back and Faster
[10] Titan Arch
[11] Chaostrophy
[12] Lorca Not Orca
[13] Love's Secret Domain

Lasting about an hour, this is Coil's first album containing new work in the five years since "Horse Rotorvator". Quite a bit has happened to the band. Stephen Thrower (later of Cyclobe has joined the band (only to leave just after the next album), John adopted a fascination with 'sidereal sound' (if anyone is capable of doing some understandable explahation, be my guest) and dance-music had managed to get a grip (which it hasn't lost until today). A lot of this and more is to heard on the album. The list of people who lent a hand to complete LSD is impressive. As you can see, the association with drugs is quite clear too.
'Love's Secret Domain' is the first album of a 'new' Coil. Gone (but not forgotten) is the industrial sound of the early years. It has been replaced by something new... More melody perhaps, more difference... not really. The musick is turning into an onion. Layer upon layer upon layer, sometimes easy and loud, at other times thin and eerie. I recall reading (or hearing) somewhere 'round the time LSD was released that almost every second of recorded sound was used in this album.
This is an album to listen to. With that I mean that it is very easy to turn it on and do the dishes, but that is NOT a good idea. Have a drink, open a window, look at the moon and play LSD. That is the listening that is meant. Try and hear every sound used. Hear the musick fill every dark corner of your room, of your head. LSD can surround you, wash over you.
In the track by track part you will notice that there is a lot to be said about the various songs here. Every track is different in mood, sound.
Whilst being a very coherent album overall, most of the tracks stand by themselves. There is less overflow as on earlier albums. In the end you find, however, that your trip has taken you back where you started, slightly breathless and shook up.
Perhaps this is the best moment to get along with my writing and start reviewing all the tracks, one by one.

[ 1] Disco Hospital
A strange disco-esque track.
Voice is distorted, disturbed and mutilated. There are sounds that can be called human voice, but these are mere sounds. After a 'vocal' intro there is an almost dancable beat. Just when you get into that, it is over. The 'vocals' take over, and almost seamless we get into...
[ 2] Teenage Lightning 1
The lyrics here are again more sound then voice, but more to be understood. First impression of the track is: "it is too short, I can not find out what is happening". We'll get back to it, luckily.
[ 3] Things Happen
Annie Anxiety has been sharing more then one drink with John. Kind of drunk she stumbles her way through the lyrics.
This is one of the tracks that shows you a little bit more, every time you listen to it. The whole album is like an onion, layer upon layer, but (to me) this is one of the most prominent tracks to show that.
[ 4] The Snow
Enter... dance!!
Some sort of underground-dance hit for Coil. Yep, you read it... I used the word "hit". Never in the charts, but none the less, I could fill a floor with it. This track is just one of the reasons everybody will always tell you that 'Love's Secret Domain' is such a special Coil-album. This track breaks with tradition that Coil is difficult. Coil is groovey, danceable, hip and almost easy. More about "the Snow" in a later review...
[ 5] Dark River
This track is a one of the darker tracks of the album. Lots of bass, with an almost dancing melody over it. However, the two seem totally unaware of eachother. The moments they get together are almost incidental. Undanceable, because there is no beat, just a very faint snare. In my opinion this is one of the earlier tracks of the album, partly because it is included on the pre-release demo (Love's Secret Demise )
[ 6] Where Even the Darkness Is Something to See
First thing you hear is a didgeridoo, and then a very, very lazy beat. Once again, just under the threshold of your hearing there is something with voices. I never can stop looking in this darkness...
[ 7] Teenage Lightning 2
In the rebound... "this is what you get when you rub two teenagers together..." as Jhonn said on Selvaggina, Go Back into the Woods.
Once again a danceable track, although the rhythm is hard to keep. It is just off. And the track can feel monotone at first. Later recordings prove that this track has loads more substance then you think by hearing it the first time. To be honest, I missed the acoustic guitar the first few times (listen closely, at around three and a half minutes...)
[ 8] Windowpane
The [other] single. Never as 'big' as "the Snow", but worth a listen, at least twice. I will spent more time and attention to this track in a later review.
[ 9] Further Back and Faster
This is just a trip into relax-mode... at least... to me.
[10] Titan Arch
Another borrowed singer. Marc Almond may sing the lyrics to this one. Don't get me wrong, I like Marc, but almost every track he sings is sort of bend around him. The way the tracks on this album vary, both in soundcolor as in speed, and tone makes it so interresting. And so f***ing hard to write about.
[11] Chaostrophy
Okay... I guess this track, in its many guises is my favourite Coil-track. Here we get it as "Chaostrophy" while it is featured on other albums (official and unofficial) as Original Chaostrophy, Pre-original Chaostrophy and Chaostrophy (demo). All a bit different.
This one is like looking for "Original Chaostrophy" (as featured on Stolen and Contaminated Songs) by using a lot of radios. All mistuned and spitting static. One by one they are tuned into the proper channel. I guess intriguing is the correct word for this track.
[12] Lorca Not Orca
In a nice try to travel the world, here is the acoustic guitar from "Teenage Lightning" again. To complete the resemblance, this track even uses the lyrics again.
[13] Love's Secret Domain
And to finish it all, the track that shares it's name with the album.
To my this is one of the most briljant tracks Coil ever made. John's voice and lyrics are perfect with the music. I feel I could use a line like:In dreams I walk with you...
In dreams I talk with you...
In dreams...
You're mine
All of the time.
to impress a girl. I am afraid it will backfire on me, but I just love that line. Then again, I know that my taste of literature is not everybody's.
Biggest problem is the abrupt end...

Retrospectifly I doubt this review will urge anybody to buy the album, but I hope I made you listen again, with a little bit of another view. Enjoy the album...

Previous reviews:
Zos Kia - Transparent
Coil - Scatology
Coil - Horse Rotorvator
Coil - Gold Is The Metal (with the broadest shoulders)
Coil - Unnatural History - Compilation Tracks Compiled
Envios aceitos
Coil, Brainwashed


  • s3ntient

    Great review, as are your others! :) The way I understand Sidereal Sound is that it is based on Austin Osman Spare's Sidereal images where he would paint subjects from strange unexpected angles to show the subject under a different light and bring out things you wouldn't normally see. Sort of a different way of looking at reality. So in music, it would be presenting sounds from completely unexpected angles, to surprise the listeners but also make him hear things he wouldn't normally, or in a different way. What I don't understand is the use of the word sidereal, which is a term used in astronomy and means: measured relative to the stars rather than the Sun.

    Ago 31 2006, 21h08
  • Televiper

    They talk about Sidereal Sound in this interview The term sidereal seems to fit really well with what the artist Austin Osman was doing. Which was analyzing things from a different prespective.

    Set 1 2006, 1h36
  • Pentax23

    Great review of the greatest Coil achievement, IMHO of course. Well at least among their more dancey type of work. An absolute all-time classic and a record from which my adventure with Coil started for good. The funny thing is that I first heard tracks from this album on very first underground acid-raves at the beginning of 90's here in Poland. The Snow and Windopane became an instant imprint on my musical memory since then. Jester, the lyrics you mentioned from Love's Secret Domain have haunted me for ages, very rarely does music hit my emotional circuits so hard as these lines :)

    Set 1 2006, 7h26
  • rajmund69

    Great album, great review. I see we all have similiar feelings about the title song. By the way - I know there's a very, very rare video for Love's Secret Domain, but I can't find it anywhere.. Could someone help?

    Set 18 2006, 20h55
  • Btwothree

    Good review. :) On the lyrics for Love's Secret Domain, the 'In Dreams' part is taken from a Roy Orbisonsong of the same name which was used by David Lynch in Blue Velvet to unnerving effect. The rest of the lyric being a reworking of The Sick Rose by Blake.

    Dez 30 2006, 14h26
  • Asphyxiaphilia

    And while we're talking about the lyrics for LSD, let's not forget the blatant Crowleyism of Seduce, let loose The Vision and The Void... Fabulous fucking review Jester! It's odd, though - I just reviewed this album in my music theory for guitar class a few nights ago! Maybe I'll post it up later tonight.

    Ago 28 2007, 19h35
  • PTV

    I enjoyed reading it, thanks :)

    Set 5 2007, 17h48
  • smc2911

    Excellent review! I can clearly remember the excitement I felt when this came out (it had been a long wait!) and then, not knowing anything about it, the shock of the difference from what had gone before. I had it on constant rotation for weeks and it is still probably my favourite Coil album. Thanks for sharing your thoughts!

    Set 12 2007, 11h09
  • smc2911

    It's probably worth mentioning as well the incorporation of a nod to William Blake's The Sick Rose in the title track.

    Set 12 2007, 12h58
  • Nymix

    I concur with the tenor of the previous statements. After the long wait, LSD was a revelation when finally released. Probably one of the best albums of the 90ies, yet underestimated by the mainstream music press. But in artist's memories, this one is an influential classic like few others from that period (like 242's Tyranny, which you already mentioned too ;-) Seems like 1991 was a good year for the evolution of electronic music.

    Fev 16 2008, 15h55
  • skinnydrifter

    Great history and great review, can say no less! :)

    Abr 4 2008, 23h50
  • The_Toxo_Zombie

    Nice Review, well written and informative. What do you think of the cover of Love's Secret Domain on the Jhonn Balance In Memoriam CD? Honestly i don't think it does the original justice. Teenage Lightning and TGs United seem to me to be....cousins. Have you noticed a similarity between them?

    Abr 16 2008, 10h59
  • luistun

    solamente puedo coincidir en que es un trabajo excelente.Definitivamente cada canciòn tiene un matiz completamente apartado de las demàs. Son de los pocos discos que he escuchado en mi vida que realmente provocan algo en el subconciente. Dependiendo de lo onirico del momento, puede cada canciòn darle realce a lo surreal del momento.Gracias Jhon.

    Set 25 2008, 0h02
  • cell_44

    my impression for Chaostrophy is his constant searching..distorted reality equals distorted radio vawes sounds that just occasionaly "catches a tune'- almost accidentally giving meaning to the surrounding people and one goes towards his end- so the melody becomes more and more clear..this may sound too poetic but it`s my personal vision of chaostrophy I live while listening to it..

    Jan 26 2009, 10h28
  • Rasa9393

    Hands down, Coil's LSD is the best electronic release of all time. Funny its 20 years old. It takes the cake.

    Fev 14 2010, 5h19
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