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Birds of a feather

"Your name is being called by sacred things
That are not addressed nor listened to

Sometimes they blow trumpets...
{Kate Bush, "Big Stripey Lie"

Jhon Balance would have liked the coincidental mutual release of The Ape of Naples / Aerial; he held her in enormous esteem – she was one of his household gods; and at certain points in his past he fondly conjectured or imagined there was some kind of creative ESP or aetherial shareware going on between them… he would have an idea for a future song and she would soon sing/air it; similar threads, arcs, areas would appear in their respective work.

And looking today at the lyrics for KB’s “How To Be Invisible”, I could almost hear JB sing them: uncannily and precisely similar, it seems to me.

(He was coy about particulars, but I suspect that KB “appears”, a vocal wraith, on at least one track of Astral Disaster, thru some Christopherson-manufactured laptop-sluice or electronic table tap ruse. They also both used that “It’s in the trees, it’s coming!” sample/quote
{I used to know the film it’s taken from… English, 60s or 70s, country house, children, a Crowley like mage …}

Into the shaking air, needing nothing… by the din of the waning light…”

There was a common fascination with English landscape, its light, birds, birdsong and the uncanny/familial Work of mourning. I would love to hear KB do a version of Coil’s “Broccoli”: “The death of the mother/The death of the father/are something you prepare for/all your life/all their life.”

Mercury and sulphur, moon and sun, JB and KB as two halves of an alchemical emblem or imago, a British tree behind them, red birds in its branches, dusk or dawn. Ravensong & Airvoyance. Owl and Minnerva. Boy and kestrel. Strange tender isolate children running & hiding in the woods, reluctant to return to the constraining hearth…

Do you know where your children are?


I had a rather uncanny experience in Wales this summer, involving a Coil track - from Astral Disaster, as it happens - a telegraph wire and a positively Hitchcockian profusion/invasion of swallows. And I was just about to add a line about JB’s liking for certain Surrealist paintings involving uncanny birds, when, tidying my desk, I turned over a nest of books to find the top book’s cover was a reproduction of … Rene Magritte’s La Clairvoyance: a hand, a paintbrush… a black bird. “Looking upon it with a sense of dread. Gazing upon it with a sense of dread…” And I just realised, recalled, that the first time I met JB, I gave him a drawing done by my own hand, of … a strange, daemonic, half man half bird figure. I’d quite forgotten this. (The only other interviewee I ever so gifted, was Diamanda Galas; because I knew she loved him, she I gave a slim & rather rare catalogue of Henri Michaux etchings from my archives.)

{I just lost (flown into the cyber aether!) a few paragraphs comparing KB and Madonna to the latter's detriment. Maybe she just wasn't meant to appear in even the same post as these two magickal, winged beings...; maybe I'll come back to it.

posted by Ian 12/07/2005 12:56:00 PM

I think the film you're referring to with the "It's In The Trees, It's Coming " quote is Jacques Tourneuer's Night of the Demon {he also directed Cat People and Out of the Past}. It was adapted from The Casting of the Runes by MR James, a favouite author of J.B. I think.
The Ape of Naples is a great album... just listening to it now... it more or less goes in exactly the directions most people seemed to want Coil to move in... oddly liminal, slightly skewed, poetic and occasionally frustrating... but there are songs here and everything seems slightly less abstract than recent offerings - and, whether this is Peter's influence or an intention on both their parts; now Jhon seems to breathe through thr music when in the last few records he's been kinda smeared on top of it...
Wonderful post. J would've been proud. Nothing more to add!
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