In light of the lovely gay-pride celebration currently in my town, I think it’s in order to talk a little bit of a great neo-folk/experimental musician which I adore, namely, Jhonn Balance! A great artist and inspiration to all, that tragically passed away too soon…
Hailing from Mansfeild, England, Jhonn Balance founded the band Coil in 1982 with the departure of his partner Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson from Psychic TV. Their music is quite unique and is a blend of a myriad of styles, they could be best described as ambient, industrial, and what Balance himself called the music as “magickal music”. Coil turned out to become one of the most influential and well known industrial pioneers.
Balance have collaborated with a myriad of other experimental and industrial musicians, Current 93, Psychic TV, Nurse With Wound, Death in June, NON, Chris & Cosey, Thighpaulsandra, and he has produced a number of NIN remixes. Being influenced and working together with them, they also became influenced by Balance’s electronic music. Trent Reznor expressed his influence from Balance, and even named his new music project after Coil’s first 12″, How to Destroy Angels. Coil have also created the soundtrack to the first Hellraiser movie.
The Ape of Napels is the final studio album by Coil after Jhonn’s unfortunate passing on the 13th of November 2004. The album was originally to be called Fire of the Mind but was later changed to it’s current name. Many of the songs on The Ape of Naples are reworks or remasters of different songs, some of them from the Backwards bootleg demo from 1993.
The album features on of my favorite sad love songs, Tattooed Man. It is a very bitter song about the loss of a loved one to the hateful crimes of an intolerant society. Slow and pacing of the melodies, and Jhonn’s vocals are perfect composition to create a bitter and sad feeling of injustice, where the lovers are left brokenhearted while the perpetrator still lies in his comfortable bed.
The overall feeling of the album is quite mellow and somber, with a slight otherworldly feeling, quite common in a lot of songs by Balance. The album features lots of ambient electronic sounds, synthesizers, and contributions from Thighpaulsandra and Ossian Brown. Some of the songs can become a bit repetitive but they are still pleasant. It is a quite sad album, serving as a remembrance of Jhonn’s great vocals.
May you continue to inspire and enrich our lives with your glory form beyond the grave!
“There’s a man lying down in a grave somewhere
With the same tattoos as me
And I love him, I love him, I love him, I love him, I love him
There’s a man lying down in a bed somewhere
With a different set of sex aspects
And I hate him, I hate him, I hate him, I hate him, I love…”
I. Fire of the Mind
II. The Amethyst Deceivers
III. Tattooed Man
IIII. Triple Sun
V. It’s in my Blood
VI. I Don’t Get It
VII. Heavens Blade
VIII. Cold Cell
IX. Teenage Lightning 2005
X. Amber Rain
XI. Going Up