Coil – Time Machines (1998) – Review

Release Date: 1998

“Time Machines” is an intriguing and captivating record from the experimental music duo Coil. Released in 1998, the album diverges significantly from the band’s previous works, which were generally more rooted in the realm of industrial and experimental pop. “Time Machines” presents four drone pieces, each titled after a specific hallucinogenic compound.

From the outset, the album embarks on an ambitious journey to encapsulate the effects of time dilation and altered states of consciousness. Each of the four pieces explores different sonic textures and mind-altering experiences, making this album a powerful exploration of drone music’s ability to induce altered perceptual states.

The first track, “7-Methoxy-β-Carboline: (Telepathine),” opens with a pulsating hum, which soon merges into a dense landscape of layered, phasing drones. The complex sonic textures undulate and shift over the course of its duration, creating a mesmerizing, hypnotic effect. The piece is designed to encourage introspection and offers a deeply immersive auditory experience that sets the stage for the tracks that follow.

“2,5-Dimethoxy-4-Ethyl-Amphetamine: (DOET/Hecate)” is perhaps the most dynamic piece on the album. It exhibits a higher level of sonic movement and evolution compared to the other tracks, with pulsating waves of sound that seem to gradually accelerate and decelerate. The oscillations and vibrations within the track create a mesmerizing effect, akin to the perceived auditory hallucinations of the referenced substance.

“5-Methoxy-N,N-Dimethyl: (5-MeO-DMT)” is a stark contrast to its predecessor. Its unyielding, monolithic drone provides a meditative, yet intense experience. The drone’s consistency gives it a perceived stillness, yet within this stability, subtle changes and evolutions can be detected upon close listening, creating an illusion of static dynamism.

The final track, “4-Indolol,3-[2-(Dimethylamino)Ethyl], Phosphate Ester: (Psilocybin),” is a beautiful, albeit intense, close to the album. It maintains a steady drone that continuously evolves throughout its runtime, offering a sense of journey and exploration. Like the others, this track too, has its unique character, oscillating between moments of tranquility and turbulence.

Each of the album’s tracks exudes a distinct personality. The compositions are masterful examples of minimalism and restraint, demonstrating how the subtle layering and careful manipulation of simple sonic elements can result in complex and emotive soundscapes.

“Time Machines” also bears testament to Coil’s bold artistic vision. The band’s decision to delve deep into drone music, which significantly contrasts their earlier work, underscores their commitment to sonic exploration and their willingness to challenge and subvert audience expectations.

In terms of production, the sound quality of the album is commendable. The tones are lush, and the drones are presented with a clarity that allows for an immersive listening experience. Each track envelops the listener, creating an intimate sonic environment that encourages deep listening and introspection.

Overall, “Time Machines” stands as a unique addition to Coil’s discography and a significant contribution to drone music. Its concept, its exploration of sound, and its evocation of altered states of consciousness make it a compelling listening experience. It’s a record that requires patience and an openness to engage with unconventional musical structures. Yet, for those willing to embark on this sonic journey, “Time Machines” offers a rewarding and memorable exploration of time, perception, and sound.

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