Coil / Nine Inch Nails - Recoiled
Although aeons apart in terms of commercial success, for a short time the work of arch industrial experimentalists Coil and the Grammy award winning Nine Inch Nails became closely entwined. On the back of Broken, Trent Reznor farmed out a bunch of tracks to a whole host of remixers to do whatever they wanted with them. The resulting album, Fixed, included remixes from J.G. Thirlwell, Butch Vig and of course Coil, who chopped-up 'Gave-Up' to great effect. Trent Reznor was a longtime fan of Coil and admirer of the video work of Peter Christopherson, - he told me that he considered "Tainted Love a particularly cool and chilling video" - who he later commissioned to direct a video for 'Wish'. Together they then went on to create the pseudo snuff movie short, Broken, combing a number of Nine Inch Nails videos with a loose storyline involving abduction and torture that despite its appearance on Vimeo and a million torrent sites has still never been officially released. Coil were also contracted to record an album for Reznor's Nothing Records label. Despite recording at Reznor's New Orleans studio the resulting album was never completed, with Coil deeming the results "unsatisfactory". A version of Backwards, under the auspices of Peter Christopherson and Danny Hyde, appeared as The New Backwards on vinyl via Important Records and later as a CD on Coil's Threshold House label. Reznor, meanwhile, co-opted the title of Coil's debut release How To Destroy Angels, for the name of his side-project, with his wife Mariqueen Maandig.
Hunted down by enthusiasts from the Nine Inch Nails forum some of the mixes on Recoiled first surfaced under the title of Uncoiled as a download only release. Recoiled features alternate versions of the Coil remixes that appeared on the Nine Inch Nails albums Fixed and Further Down The Spiral, as well as the single 'Closer'. Let's be clear though, these aren't the official Coil remixes; Recoiled features the pre big mix down versions and sometimes these are very different to the official mixes that appeared on the aforementioned releases. Most of these later remixes occurred when Coil were on a hiatus; at a time when releases appeared under Coil related project names such as ELpH and Black Light District, with a line-up - Peter Christopherson, John Balance, Drew McDowall and their favoured sound engineer and "secret third member" Danny Hyde - that corresponds to the personnel involved in many of these remixes.
The tortured voice of Trent Reznor and the scorching industrial guitars of Nine Inch Nails runs throughout Recoiled, but it is the abstract and blurred sounds that Coil add that make these so essential. Recoiled goes way back to Broken for Coil's remix here known as 'Gave Up (Open My Eyes)'. Against atmo-synths, layers of shredded background vocals, and Reznor's angst ridden tones, it takes a while before it explodes into rampant surging guitars, mixed with almost breakbeat rhythms and crunchy textures. Even with the added electronic layers provided by Coil it doesn't stray too far from the industrial rock of early Nine Inch Nails and unlike the original remix this one lacks the chopped-up vocals, which astounded listeners of Fixed. Coil's remix of 'Gave Up' featured in Danny Cannon's The Young Americans starring Harvey Keitel, but it is Coil's remix of Closer (as 'Closer (Precursor)') that appeared in David Fincher's Se7en that Coil's work with Nine Inch Nails is best known for, even if they went uncredited in the film. It's not surprising it caused such a sensation as it's a harrowing piece of work. The version here as 'Closer (Unrecalled)' is all tortured squeals, creaks and cranking chains, with Reznor's vocal reduced to a slowed down distorted drawl, before it reappears in unadorned form over shimmering electronics. It takes until the "I want to fuck you like an animal" chorus, before any sense of dominant rhythm kicks in, as electronics bleed and bruise with the guitars reduced to a distorted buzz, before it closes in a haze of acoustic guitar and shredded electronics. There's a rawness to this version that wasn't captured on 'Closer (Precursor)'.
Recoiled features a further three remixes from The Downward Spiral, the bleak and unremitting album recorded by Nine Inch Nails when Trent Reznor was holed up in Los Angeles, in the house where Sharon Tate and other occupants were slaughtered by members of the so-called Manson family in 1969. Coil's remix of the title track, a fantasy tale of gunshot suicide, is far harsher and more disorientating than the mix that appeared on Further Down The Spiral. Cascading tones and backward running tapes - that sound cribbed from Coil's seminal chemically induced Love's Secret Domain album - lead into a soft marimba type rhythm that runs below Trent's whispered tones, shadowed by a more sinister drawling. With psychedelically sped-up, slowed down tapes and light acoustic guitar picked notes ever so slightly warped and distended, Coil add an eerie ambience that is much more challenging than the mix that appeared on Further Down The Spiral.
'Eraser' appears in two distinct versions. 'Eraser (Reduction)' rips apart Reznor's vocals on self-hate and despair into a series of drawn-out moans and cries, riddled with deep ripping textures with only light rippling notes piercing the claustrophobic ambience before Trent's unaffected vocals appear at the end. The underlying atmospherics recall something like 'I Don't Get It' from Coil's The Ape of Naples but it's an intense dark ride. Recoiled is furnished with one exclusive track, 'Eraser (Baby Alarm Remix)', that never surfaced on Uncoiled and it's a much more satisfying mix filled with elements of the original. The torturous ambience found on 'Eraser (Reduction)' remains but space is given over to passages with live drums and guitars - even if they are reduced to a chugging riff, which appear and disappear throughout, as electronics go haywire, buzzing and igniting in chaotic fashion. Trent's vocal runs through the lyrics as it swells with electronic rhythms, experimental atmospherics and buzzed up guitars. It's a fine meeting of Nine Inch Nails and Coil, that's thankfully seen the light of day.
Recoiled captures a moment when the industrial rock and bleak ambience of Nine Inch Nails was filtered through the minds of British experimentalists, Coil. Both groups went onto pursue very different paths. And while I don't often return to Coil's remix work, Recoiled does unearth some unheard and disorienting remixes which arguably warrants its place amongst the raft of Coil's posthumous releases. Respect should be given to Trent Reznor for allowing this to appear on Cold Spring, and kudos to Danny Hyde for rescuing this from the vaults. Recoiled is released on CD, and on vinyl in a black edition and brown/black splattered edition - which is already sold out with a further edition on picture disc doing the rounds. For more information go to Cold Spring Records
Coil / Nine Inch Nails - 'Closer (Recalled)' from Recoiled