This is a very heavy record to review. Consisting of their April 4 2003 appearance at All Tomorrow's Parties, it is the chronicle of a band falling apart. No amount of live appearances (and releases) or statements to the contrary could conceal that Coil were nearly through. References in the lyrics to "medication I didn't want to take" and statements to the audience that "we're going to do a quiet set today, we've had too much...shouting over the last year" are very telling indeed.
"...And the Ambulance Died in His Arms" is the first post-Coil work to be released since Balance's death in November 2004. It does not disappoint. Of the five tracks featured, only one has been issued before. "Triple Sun Introduction" opens it up, featuring sequencing that reminds me of their psychedelically (psychotically?) charged album "Stolen and Contaminated Songs". Following this, "Snow Falls into Military Temples" is harrowing, a hair-raising vocal performance by Jhonn raises the stakes; you can actually hear him channeling the chaos of his own life into the microphone. It is the third song "A Slip in the Marylebone Road" where you begin to feel what this band had been through the previous year. The music is dark, oppressive and surprisingly enough, somewhat linear. But not in the verse/chorus methodology you are used to. A nightmarish tale is unfurled, the damage done too much to cope with.
The concluding work, the previously released "The Dreamer Is Still Alseep" (taken from "Music to Play in the Dark Volume 1") is virtually unrecognisable, the bare essence of its structure left intact to serve as a reference point for the audience and listener. Given the surname "The Somnabulist in an Ambulance", it becomes an entirely new piece. One which is eerily prescient and heart-rending with its intensity.
The final studio album, "The Ape of Naples" follows soon.