This Mortal Coil

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This Mortal Coil
OriginUnited Kingdom
GenresDream pop[1]
Years active1983–1991
Past membersIvo Watts-Russell
John Fryer

This Mortal Coil were a British music collective led by Ivo Watts-Russell, founder of the British record label 4AD.[2] Although Watts-Russell and John Fryer were the only two official members, the band's recorded output featured a large rotating cast of supporting artists, many of whom were otherwise associated with 4AD, including members of Cocteau Twins, Pixies and Dead Can Dance.[3] The project became known for its gothic, dream pop sound, and released three full albums, beginning in 1984 with It'll End in Tears.[4]


Watts-Russell had founded 4AD in 1980, and the label established itself as one of the key labels in the British post-punk movement. Following several releases, Watts-Russell developed the idea of collaborating under the name This Mortal Coil.[5] The name is taken from lyrics to the song Dream Within A Dream by Spirit ("...Stepping off this mortal coil will be my pleasure..."),[6] which in turn is a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet ("... what dreams may come, when we have shuffled off this mortal coil...").

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; Cindy Sharp of Cindytalk; and a few members of Modern English.[5] An EP, Sixteen Days/Gathering Dust, resulted from these sessions. A cover of Tim Buckley's "Song to the Siren", performed by Fraser and Guthrie alone, was recorded as a B-side for the EP. 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 the recording of a full album under the This Mortal Coil moniker, 1984's It'll End in Tears.[5]

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. ^ Steve Huey. "This Mortal Coil | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  2. ^ "This Mortal Coil". 4AD. Retrieved 9 September 2019.
  3. ^ Huey, Steve. "This Mortal Coil". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 April 2012.
  4. ^ Steve Huey. "This Mortal Coil | Biography & History". AllMusic. Retrieved 27 June 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Colin Larkin, ed. (2003). The Virgin Encyclopedia of Eighties Music (Third ed.). Virgin Books. p. 460. ISBN 1-85227-969-9.
  6. ^ Douridas, Chris (13 March 1998). "Morning Becomes Eclectic interview with Ivo Watts-Russell". KCRW. Retrieved 16 March 2021.
  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]