Album of the Day: Coil, “The Gay Man’s Guide To Safer Sex (OST)”

Were it not made by experimental giants Coil, the soundtrack for The Gay Man’s Guide to Safer Sex—an X-rated, ostensibly educational AIDS documentary released to VHS in 1992—would almost certainly have been lost to the dustbins by now. Taking an early-’90s Balearic dance sound as their starting point, the British industrial band leaven tribal techno with oddball beauty to create a bemusing album that channels their previous advocacy of HIV and AIDS awareness (consider their harrowing music video for “Tainted Love,” the proceeds of which went to an AIDS prevention organization) into soothing, heavy-lidded songs. The VHS might be long out of print, but the soundtrack itself, taken from engineer/producer Danny Hyde’s original masters, is now available for the first time on Musique Pour La Danse.

Along with Hyde, foundational members John Balance and Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson built upon the acid-tinged, trance-like mysticism of their commercially successful album, 1991’s Love’s Secret Domain. The first track, “Alternative Theme From Gay Man’s Guide to Safer Sex,” is a plumper edit of the slick and funky original theme that is featured on the VHS. The jazzy cabaret atmosphere of “Exploding Frogs”—reworked from “Omlagus Garfungaloops”—is suitable for a foggy lounge in the nook of a seedy side-street. And the groovy, transcendental “Nasa-Arab 2” delivers a continuum of otherworldly rhythmic trysts, offering up a vastly different re-edit of “Nasa-Arab.” On the surface, The Gay Man’s Guide to Safer Sex is erotic New Age music, but it is still inherently Coil, a band riddled in feverish emotes of delirium, sphinx-like in their layers and loops. 

-Andi Harriman

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