Review Summary: Does death come alone or with eager reinforcements?
Personally, I've had very little experience with Coil. The London-based industrial/experimental avant-garde duo have always eluded me, and in due part to my own laziness, I hardly know much about them aside from this particular release. Released well over a decade ago on the English/Thai-based label Threshold House, The Ape of Naples
was the result of a decade of long-discarded songs and was compiled from various sessions for several of Coil's projects, mainly the shelved 1993 album Backwards
, 1991's Love's Secret Domain
, and other EPs and live recordings.
It is often said that The Ape of Naples
is heavily dominated by electronics, from the instrumentation to the digital manipulation of John Balance's vocals, as such as in "Heaven's Blade"
, which creatively time-stretches and obscures Balance's vocal over a glitchy beat; or in "It's In My Blood"
, where the use of time-stretching adds an air of tension over Balance's demented vocal and the eerie strings that occupy the song. Sampling, like with most Coil recordings, plays a huge part in The Ape of Naples and are used to add an morbidly downbeat atmosphere to the songs, especially in the sampling of Balance's final performance with Coil in the closing track, "Going Up"
(a cover of the theme tune of the late night PBS rerun regular "Are You Being Served?"
, sung by François Testory).
The instrumentation of the album is one of its assets, thanks in no part to regular Coil collaborators Thighpaulsandra, Cliff Stapleton and Tom Edwards, who assisted Peter "Sleazy" Chistopherson in creating the gloomy vibe that permeates the songs of The Ape of Naples
. The ethereal, despondent mood of The Ape of Naples
comes across incredibly clear not only in its composition, but in its sparse lyricism as well, whether it be the yearning of death on "Heaven's Blade"
, with the refrain of "Just cut yourself with Heaven's blade" while Balance proclaims he is "not afraid" to figure out what's on the other side after death; or the primal human urges Balance puts across with the cries of "Man is the animal" on opener "Fire of the Mind"
. From the lyrics alone, it becomes clear death, and life after death are major themes of the album, and are all but confirmed with "Going Up"
essentially being Balance's ascension to the next life, obscured bootleg live performance audio and all.