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Various Artists - ...It Just Is: In Memoriam Jhonn Balance

Various Artists - X Rated: The Dark Files

As Coil ceased to exist on November 13 2004 after the death of Jhonn Balance following a fatal fall at home something of a mini-industry has grown around Coil. Aside from the remixed, remastered and reworked material that continues to emanate from Threshold House under the care of Peter Christopherson, a number of tribute discs have appeared of varying quality.

...It Just Is: In Memoriam Jhonn Balance is a double disc set compiled by Russia and Ukraine based labels, released somewhat belatedly to coincide with a night of remembrance for Jhonn Balance that featured performances by Peter Christopherson, COH and others. It is a confused and somewhat disappointing release where at point any reference to Jhonn Balance or Coil for that matter appear to be, um, absolute elsewhere. Even the contributions from Chris Connelly and Paingame (featuring William Tucker and Ryan Clark) are largely dismal - Paingame offering some form of electronic dance music and Connelly offering some vague acoustic song based tribute. Alec Empire supplies beats, pulses and electro buzz in a passable tribute to Coil, Philip Klinger (aka PBK) slice of dark ambient fares better. Kotra's clever splicing of 'Heartworms' and 'The Halliwell Hammers' is solid enough, as is K.K. Null's 'Scatovator' created entirely from the Coil tracks 'Ostia', 'Penetralia', 'The Anal Staircase' and 'Solar Lodge'.

Biblioteka Prospero provide a respectable interpretation of 'Heartworms', while Theodor Bastard (a group not an individual, unfortunately) chime in with a gothic-electro version of 'Loves Secret Domain'. Unsurprisingly the best moments come from those closest to Coil: COH, Alva Noto, Scanner... COH's 'No Balance' is a short series of vibrating tones, Carsten Nicolai's Alva Noto track 'Odradek' is an icy drone whose piano based melody is vaguely reminiscent of Coil's 'Paradise Lost'. The poetic lyrics and brooding electronics of Scanner conjure images of Derek Jarman films. Yet the best reason for acquiring ...It Just Is: In Memoriam Jhonn Balance is the unveiling of Peter Christopherson's new musical project, The Threshold HouseBoys Choir. 'Mahil Athal Nadrach' retains the disorientating electronics of Coil, but right from the start as the marimba chimes in it's apparent that Sleazy's new base of Thailand is exerting an influence on his musical compositions. Mixed with loose Thai-based vocalisations and melodic accordion drone it becomes soothing and quite sensual. Thighpaulsandra's 'Christ's Teeth' is an aggressive electro piece from the former Coil musician, and here with the voice of Jhonn Balance - whose absurd wordplay stretches from zimmer frames to home baking reminds us that in the form of Jhonn Balance we've lost a true individual.

With the majority of contributors hailing from Russia and the Ukraine ...It Just Is: In Memoriam Jhonn Balance serves more as a sampler for these territories than as a tribute to Jhonn Balance. ...It Just Is: In Memoriam Jhonn Balance was released some time ago and copies are undoubtedly thin on the ground so go seek a download, or get your friends to copy you the best bits and donate the costs to an alcoholism charity. For more information go to

X Rated: The Dark Files was compiled by KinkFM, a Dutch radio show and the label Steamin' Soundworks and launched at an evening dedicated to Jhonn Balance featuring performances by Black Sun Productions and Edward Ka-Spel. It is a much stronger entry drawing upon close friends, Coil collaborators, Balance's former lover and partner in Coil, and a Coil track that originally appeared on CD-R with the art edition of Moon's Milk.

X Rated: The Dark Files opens with 'Slateblue, Dark Seafed' from Scanner its interplay between thunderous percussion and gentle wailing ambient shows a darker strain to his electronic sounds. Along with Sleazy's new outfit, The Threshold Houseboys Choir, he's the only artist with the distinction of appearing on both tribute discs and his contributions are particularly appealing. Danny Hyde, Coil collaborator and occasional engineer, is here too with 'I Don't Need That Deviant Sex' - although I'm informed that his myspace profile says otherwise. It's a more beat oriented track, laden with samples, electronic throbs and programmed drums that transforms itself into a fine slice of dark dance music. David Tibet and Steven Stapleton supply an alternate mix of 'Die, Flip or Go To India' from the Current 93 / Nurse With Wound collaboration Bright Yellow Moon - though, here the track of blurred electronics, harmonium drone and the pitch-shifted vocals of David Tibet is credited solely to Nurse With Wound. An interesting mix but David Tibet has, and will, no doubt, provide better tributes to his dear, departed friend. Black Sun Productions offer 'Ode To tzi' from their album The Impossibility of Silence. Blending cascading discordant electronics with a gentle piano score it evokes the atmosphere of Coil's Musick To Play In The Dark volumes as distilled through the vision of Massimo and Pierce who formed part of the extended Coil live set-up in shows throughout Europe. It's a fantastic track and further proof that the Black Sun boys have matured musically.

Coil's contribution is taken from the ultra-limited CD-R accompanying the art edition of Moon's Milk. Against discordant electronics and a swirling drone Jhonn Balance recites an Angus MacLise poem laced with shamanic and mystical imagery. It's a great airing of a rare track reminiscent of their work on Astral Disaster. And as Balance has crossed from one threshold to another Peter Christopherson appears to be stepping out of the dark and into the light with The Threshold HouseBoys Choir. 'So Young It Knows No Maturing' sighs to the sound of a myriad of Thai voices over flickering percussion with a massed angelic choir hovering in the wings to create an alluring and tranquil presence.

Of the remaninig contributions they include 'Nach Pfingsten', a "rare track" with sound sources close to Coil's 'Penetralia', desolate industrialised rumblings from the Swedish masters of dark ambient Raison D'être, a dream piece from the Legendary Pink Dots, primitive electronics from Monoton with a track that even predates the formation of Coil and a teaser track from KAH.

X Rated: The Dark Files is a solid enough compilation where just over half of the contributions are related to Jhonn Balance. The rest appears here by default to advertise the event or the label. Promoting it as a tribute to Jhonn Balance is rather fanciful and with or without the consent of Peter Christopherson it fails to justify its purpose or serve the memory of Jhonn Balance. Suffice to say, a true and proper tribute to the former Coil member is still outstanding. For more information go to