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Coil - Black Light District- A Thousand Lights In A Darke [Dais Records - 2018]

1996’s Black Light District- A Thousand Lights In A Darkened Room has always stood as one of the most mind-altering, yet still relatively approachable releases in the Coil canon. With its largely instrumental blend of queasy ambience, darkly psychedelic-yet- often memorable electronica, off-kilter -yet slowly head-bobbing beats, and weaves of disorientating  sampling.

The album has had a few ltd pressings since its initial release in 1996-but here from Dais Records we get a much deserved & needed larger pressing of the album- either as a CD, digital or vinyl release. I’m reviewing the CD release, this is a six-panel card digipak affair- which recreates the original unsettling Steven Stapleton artwork of grotesque morphed & wormhole tunnelled faces and starkly surreal backdrops.  The vinyl version comes in form of a double LP which is packaged in a matte 24pt stock gatefold jacket.  With the first pressing of 200 been on clear vinyl, then red (500 copies), blue( 600 copies), and standard black vinyl, Plus a further Uk/ Euro only edition of 500 copies on yellow.

From the outset the album unbalances you, and pretty much keeps on doing so through-out  it’s entire seventy two minute runtime. It opens up with “Unprepared Piano”- this just under two minutes of unpredictable & unsettling piano notation fed out in blocks of angular sound. Next up is “Red Skeletons”- this seven & a half minute track is built around skittering & slicing beats, a darting &  watery churning bass line, drowsy carnival synth sways,  & disorientating cut-up snippets of a couple arguing. This second track nicely sets the tone for most of the rest of the album- with its blend of beats, psychedelic layered synth scaping / production, unbalancing samples field recordings, and shifting sonic details- all to create a thoroughly unbalancing & unsettling ride- which is often highly memorable & moody too.

Of all the Coil albums I’d say this is one of returned to most often over the years- as it’s blend of sonic tricky/ un-balancement, creative beat-scaping, and haunting-yet- often memorable electronica & ambient is so enthralling & replayable. The idea was that there where going to be more releases under the Black Light District sub-title, but for one reason or another this never happened- so this means it does stand out and offers something slightly different from the rest of the projects back catalog.

This new reissue features a new remastering by Josh Bonati, which was supervised by Coil's Drew McDowall. This certainly makes the albums unbalancing layers & psychedelic details that much more vivid & headily potent. And I’m looking forward to revealing more details & subtle details with future listen. 

Not only is Black Light District- A Thousand Lights In A Darkened Room one of the jewels in Coil’s back-catalog, it’s also a stone-cold classic in both the psychedelic electronica & queasy ambient genres. So if you don’t already have this, it really is a go out & buy now release. And even if like me you already have the original Eskaton CD pressing from 1996- this reissue is certainly worth upgrading- due to the great remastering & the recreation of the original artwork.

Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5Rating: 5 out of 5

Roger Batty
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