This Mortal Coil

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For other uses, see Mortal coil (disambiguation).
This Mortal Coil
Origin United Kingdom
Genres Ambient, acoustic, folk, post-punk, ethereal wave, gothic rock,[1][2] dream pop,[3] neo-classical, experimental
Years active 1983–1991
Labels 4AD
Associated acts Alison Limerick, Cindytalk, The Wolfgang Press, Xmal Deutschland, Frazier Chorus, In Camera, Cocteau Twins, Breathless, Dif Juz, The Hope Blister, Clan of Xymox, Michael Brook, Dead Can Dance, Brendan Perry, Lisa Gerrard, Pixies, Belly, The Breeders, Colourbox, Louise Rutkowski, Tanya Donelly, Modern English, Heidi Berry, Shelleyan OrphanDeirdre Rutkowski
Past members Ivo Watts-Russell
John Fryer

This Mortal Coil was a gothic dream pop collective led by Ivo Watts-Russell, founder of the British record label 4AD.[4] Although Watts-Russell and John Fryer were technically the only two official members, the band's recorded output featured a large rotating cast of supporting artists, many of whom were signed to, or otherwise associated with, 4AD.[5] About half of the songs released were cover versions, often of 1960s and 1970s psychedelic and folk acts. On each of the band's three LPs, at least one song would also be a cover of a 4AD artist, and most of the original songs were instrumentals.

The name "This Mortal Coil" is taken from the Monty Python's Flying Circus "Dead Parrot sketch",[6] which in turn is a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet.


Watts-Russell had founded 4AD in 1980, and the label established itself as one of the key labels in the British post-punk movement.

Quoting the 4AD website

This Mortal Coil was not a band, but a unique collaboration of musicians recording in various permutations, the brainchild of 4AD kingpin Ivo Watts-Russell. The idea was to allow artists the creative freedom to record material outside of the realm of what was expected of them; it also created the opportunity for innovative cover versions of songs personal to Ivo.

One of the label's earliest signings was Modern English. In 1983, Watts-Russell suggested that the band re-record two of its earliest songs, "Sixteen Days" and "Gathering Dust," as a medley. At the time, the band was closing its set with this medley, and Watts-Russell felt it was strong enough to warrant a re-recording. When the band rebuffed the idea, Watts-Russell decided to assemble a group of musicians to record the medley: Elizabeth Fraser and Robin Guthrie of Cocteau Twins; Gordon Sharp of Cindytalk; and a few members of Modern English. An EP, Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust, resulted from these sessions.

Recorded as a B-side for the EP was a cover of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren", performed by Fraser and Guthrie alone. Pleased with the results, Watts-Russell decided to make this the A-side of the 7" single version of the EP, and the song quickly became an underground hit, leading Watts-Russell to pursue recording a full album under the This Mortal Coil moniker.

In June 1998 Watts-Russell began releasing albums in a similar vein to his TMC projects, under the name The Hope Blister.[7]


Studio albums[edit]


  • Dust & Guitars (TAD 3X23CDJ - August 2012)


Singles and EPs[edit]

  • "Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust" EP (AD 310 - September 1983)
  • "Kangaroo"/"It'll End in Tears" EP (AD 410 - August 1984)
  • "Come Here My Love"/"Drugs" (limited 10" single release - BAD 608 - September 1986)[7]


The Hope Blister[edit]


  1. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on November 18, 2015. Retrieved January 2, 2016. 
  2. ^ "This Mortal Coil - Discography - Album of The Year". Retrieved 2016-06-27. 
  3. ^ Steve Huey. "This Mortal Coil | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 2016-06-27. 
  4. ^ "This Mortal Coil". Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  5. ^ Huey, Steve. "This Mortal Coil". AllMusic. Retrieved 2012-04-27. 
  6. ^ Morning Becomes Eclectic interview with Ivo Watts-Russell March 13, 1998
  7. ^ a b c d Strong, Martin C. (2000). The Great Rock Discography (5th ed.). Edinburgh: Mojo Books. pp. 987–988. ISBN 1-84195-017-3. 

External links[edit]