This Mortal Coil was a gothic dream pop supergroup led by Ivo Watts-Russell, founder of the British record label 4AD. 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. 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 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 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 their 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.
- It'll End in Tears (CAD 411 - October 1984)
- Filigree & Shadow (DAD 609 - September 1986)
- Blood (DAD 1005 - April 1991)
- Dust & Guitars (TAD 3X23CDJ - August 2012)
- 1983-1991 (Warner Bros 45135 - March 1993)
- This Mortal Coil (TMCBOX1 - November 2011)
Singles and EPs
- "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)
- Acid, Bitter & Sad on Lonely Is An Eyesore (CAD703 - 4AD compilation album, 1987)
The Hope Blister
- ...Smile's OK (July 1998)
- Underarms (April 1999)
- Underarms And Sideways (January 2006)
- on 4AD website