5 Intriguing Aspects of Coil’s Album ‘Scatology'”
5 Intriguing Aspects of Coil’s Album ‘Scatology'”

5 Intriguing Aspects of Coil’s Album ‘Scatology'”

1. The Backstory Behind ‘Scatology’

Coil, spearheaded by the duo John Balance and Peter Christopherson, always harbored an interest in the esoteric and the boundaries of experimental music. When they came together to create ‘Scatology,’ they aimed for something beyond a mere collection of songs. They wanted to explore themes that most mainstream artists steered clear of, diving into the depths of taboo, sexuality, and avant-garde musical landscapes.

In the early 1980s, as the post-punk and industrial scene surged in the UK, Coil made their mark as pioneers of a new kind of sonic exploration. After parting ways with their former band, Throbbing Gristle, Balance and Christopherson embarked on a journey that would result in one of the most revolutionary albums of their careers: ‘Scatology’.

2. From Concept to Creation: Developing ‘Scatology’

During the development of ‘Scatology,’ the duo was deeply influenced by alchemy, magic, and the dark undercurrents of human psychology. This album wasn’t just about sound—it was about creating a transformative experience for the listener. They sought to craft an auditory alchemical process, turning the base material of raw, industrial sounds into golden moments of revelation.

Studio sessions for the album saw the duo collaborate with a variety of artists, each bringing a unique flavor to the mix. Stephen E. Thrower, Clint Ruin, and Marc Almond contributed, ensuring that the tracks had depth and dimension.

Throughout the album’s development, the duo demonstrated an innate ability to merge the traditional with the experimental. Using both acoustic instruments and innovative electronic setups, they weaved together a tapestry of sound that was both familiar and eerily alien.

The recording of “Scatology” by Coil was a product of the experimental and DIY (do-it-yourself) ethos that characterized the underground music scene in the 1980s. Coil, consisting of members John Balance and Peter Christopherson, embarked on creating the album in their own unique way, using limited resources and embracing unconventional techniques.

Here are some details about the recording process and the context in which “Scatology” was created:

  1. Limited Equipment: Coil had access to relatively basic recording equipment, including synthesizers, drum machines, and tape recorders. This limited setup forced them to be creative in their use of sound manipulation and synthesis.
  2. Home Studios: Much of the album was recorded in various home studio setups. Coil’s members were known for their ability to transform everyday spaces into makeshift recording environments. These home studios allowed them to experiment freely without the constraints of a traditional recording studio.
  3. Experimental Techniques: Coil was known for pushing the boundaries of music production. They would manipulate sounds using tape loops, overdubbing, and other unconventional techniques. This experimentation contributed to the album’s unique and sometimes chaotic sonic landscape.
  4. Collaborative Approach: Coil collaborated with other artists and musicians during the recording process. This collaborative spirit led to the incorporation of diverse ideas and sounds into the album’s tracks.
  5. Influences: The members of Coil were influenced by a wide range of artistic and cultural influences, including literature, occultism, and avant-garde art. These influences shaped the conceptual framework of the album and contributed to its unconventional themes and sounds.
  6. Exploration of Themes: “Scatology” explores themes related to the body, sexuality, and taboo subjects. This thematic exploration influenced the sound design and composition of the tracks, resulting in an album that challenges conventional norms.
  7. Do-It-Yourself Ethos: Coil embraced the DIY ethos of the underground music scene, valuing artistic expression and experimentation over polished production. This approach allowed them to create music that was raw, unfiltered, and deeply personal.
  8. Independent Release: “Scatology” was released on the band’s own label, Force & Form, which they established to maintain creative control over their music. This independent approach was in line with their commitment to artistic integrity.

Overall, the recording of “Scatology” was a reflection of Coil’s avant-garde mindset and their desire to create music that defied categorization. The album’s unconventional production methods, exploration of themes, and embrace of experimental techniques contributed to its reputation as a foundational work within the experimental and industrial music genres.

3. Dive into the Depth: ‘Scatology’s’ Track Listing

‘Scatology,’ unlike many albums of its era, does not serve as a mere collection of individual tracks, but rather as a cohesive narrative. Here’s a brief exploration of some of its standout tracks:

Certainly, here’s a brief overview of each track on Coil’s album “Scatology”:

  1. “Ubu Noir”: This track begins the album with a mix of eerie electronic sounds, distorted vocals, and unconventional rhythms. The title references Alfred Jarry’s play “Ubu Roi,” which is known for its absurd and surreal themes.
  2. “Panic”: “Panic” features pulsating electronic beats, distorted vocals, and layers of industrial sounds. The song’s atmosphere is tense and chaotic, reflecting the theme of panic.
  3. “At the Heart of It All”: This track introduces hypnotic electronic rhythms and manipulated vocals. The title suggests a central point, possibly alluding to hidden meanings or revelations within the chaos.
  4. “Tenderness of Wolves”: “Tenderness of Wolves” has a more melodic and atmospheric quality, juxtaposing softer elements with distorted sounds. The title evokes a sense of vulnerability and danger.
  5. The Spoiler: This track includes fragmented vocal samples and industrial textures. The title could suggest someone who disrupts or ruins something, aligning with the track’s unsettling tone.
  6. “Clap”: “Clap” features a driving rhythm, distorted vocals, and layers of electronic textures. The title might be ironic, as the music doesn’t necessarily evoke a celebratory mood.
  7. “Restless Day”: A slower-paced track with ominous ambient sounds and distorted vocals. The title hints at a sense of unease and restlessness.
  8. “Aqua Regis”: This track incorporates rhythmic electronic patterns, creating a mesmerizing effect. The title translates to “Royal Water” and might allude to alchemical or transformative themes.
  9. “Solar Lodge”: “Solar Lodge” features a combination of pulsating rhythms and atmospheric sounds. The title suggests a mystical or esoteric setting.
  10. “The S.W.B.P.”: This track is characterized by its repetitive beats and electronic sounds. The meaning of “S.W.B.P.” is not explicitly stated, leaving room for interpretation.
  11. “Godhead=Deathead”: A cacophony of distorted sounds and manipulated vocals. The title juxtaposes concepts of divinity and mortality.
  12. “Cathedrals of Joy”: The final track features haunting vocals and a blend of electronic and ambient elements. The title could be a metaphorical expression of finding moments of happiness within unexpected places.

It’s important to note that Coil’s music often defies straightforward interpretation and embraces experimentation. The album “Scatology” is a journey through unconventional sounds, textures, and themes, inviting listeners to explore their own meanings and emotions within the music.

4. Reviews That Shaped the Legacy of ‘Scatology’

When ‘Scatology’ hit the shelves, it was clear that it wasn’t just another industrial album—it was a game-changer. Here’s what some of the significant reviews of the time had to say:

NME (New Musical Express):

“Coil has managed to craft an album that is both a testament to the post-punk industrial era and a bold step into the unknown. ‘Scatology’ challenges, provokes, and lingers long after the final note.”

Melody Maker:

“Balance and Christopherson have tapped into the zeitgeist of the age, marrying the rawness of industrial sound with profound thematic explorations. It’s a journey not for the faint-hearted but undeniably rewarding.”

The Guardian:

“In ‘Scatology’, Coil creates a soundscape that feels like a forbidden realm, teeming with dark allure. It’s an album that refuses to be categorized, defying genre boundaries and listener expectations.”


“Coil’s ‘Scatology’ is more than an album; it’s an experience. From its thematic depth to its innovative soundscapes, it stands as a towering achievement in the world of experimental music.”

5. The Impact and Legacy of ‘Scatology’

In the annals of music history, certain albums stand out not just for their quality but for their impact. ‘Scatology’ is one such album. Its audacity in theme and sound influenced a generation of musicians, prompting them to explore beyond the conventional boundaries.

Bands like Nine Inch Nails, Tool, and Radiohead have all cited Coil as an influence, with ‘Scatology’ often being highlighted as a pivotal album in shaping their musical direction.

Moreover, the album’s focus on alchemical transformation, taboo, and the depths of human consciousness became a touchstone for artists in other mediums. Filmmakers, authors, and visual artists drew inspiration from the rich tapestry Coil wove, ensuring the album’s themes permeated far beyond the realm of music.

Today, ‘Scatology’ stands as a testament to Coil’s visionary approach. It serves as a reminder that music can be a vehicle for profound exploration, challenging listeners to confront their deepest fears and desires.