Black Light District: A Thousand Lights In A Darkened Room

Dais • 1996

In the mid-1990s, the weird Brits from Coil were at their weirdest. After their hitherto atypical »Worship the Glitch« album, on which they worked with the electronic glitches of the title, 1996’s »A Thousand Lights in a Darkened Room« featured more familiar elements, such as John Balance’s voice on the quasi-songs »Refusal of Leave to Land« and »Blue Rats«. That was pretty much it though. Even the opening track, the beautifully ambiguously titled »Unprepared Piano«, a tribute to John Cage, represents a very unusual, almost jazzy session for Coil, with a gently dripping bass line and what sounds like an improvised piano part, without any recognisable tonality, and yet it’s not harshly dissonant. On »Red Skeletons«, muffled, washed-out sounds form a rhythmic framework vaguely reminiscent of the rumble of the duo’s industrial phase, over which recordings of conversations between various couples in crisis are heard (presumably contributed via radio scanner by artist friend Robin Rimbaud aka Scanner). The stoically unfriendly ambient sound of »Die Wölfe kommen zurück«, on which a train rattling loop forms the foundation, is beautifully cold; most likely it comes from a scene in the film »Die Zärtlichkeit der Wölfe« (The Tenderness of Wolves) by Ulli Lommel, to whom Coil already paid tribute in 1984 with the song »Tenderness of Wolves«. More instrumental numbers are placed in between with more or less rhythmic loops of sounds, all heavily tweaked on a computer. The album ends with a maliciously peaceful drone on »Chalice«. As I said, a weird record even for Coil. Exquisitely aged.