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music:: current 93:: the black ships ate the sky


over the years, i’ve learned that it is a mistake for me to judge current 93 releases when i first get them. i find that it takes me a number of listens just to get my head around the release, so deciding where it falls in my spectrum of c93 releases. so i actually picked this album up a few months ago, but am only now at the point where i feel like i can give it a proper review.

and that still doesn’t mean i can say whether or not i like it.

like much of the band’s later work, it is inspired by the dreams of david tibet, the musical and spiritual centre of the band. increasingly, i don’t think anyone, even tibet himself, is precisely sure of the meaning of what he’s writing, but that may be beside the point. whatever it is he is struggling to communicate, i don’t doubt that tibet feels its meaning and his fragmentary poetry is meant to convey that feeling rather than a narractive logic. that sort of thing is either going to grip you right away or leave you feeling alienated. whether or not you’re going to get anything from the experience of a current 93 album depends entirely on your ability to believe in its genuinity. if you don’t believe, their music will seem painfully pretentious at best. if you do believe, any of their albums is libel to be a profoundly affecting experience for you.

i place myself solidly in the latter camp and current 93 are one of the few bands that tend to get a truly emotional reaction from me. in the fifteen years i’ve been listening to them, they’ve had very few missteps and have an uncanny ability to create music that transcends, the kind of thing that people will still listen to in two centuries’ time, the same way that we now listen to mozart and beethoven. tibet’s music, like his themes, are anything but temporal.

returning to the question of ‘liking’ this album or not. as a writer, i get frustrated with a lack of language to express what’s in my head, but that’s exactly what i’m faced with. there are elements of the album that i truly don’t like. its gravitas is positively oppressive at times. i find tibet’s (re)discovery of is christian spirituality alienating. but what is good about it is indescribably good; beautiful, powerful and enveloping like a thunderstorm.

i’m not sure that i truly understand what it is that tibet is saying (and i’m suspicious of those who do), but i know that listening to “black ships” stirs a lot of feeling in me and that, in a few months, that experience will be increased if anything. and in an era where music is generated to be disposable, that’s a remarkable accomplishment.

Comments

I'm similarly alienated (and suspicious that he may have lost more than his appendix in the hospital back a few years ago) but I found that his return to more complex melodies more than made up for it. I was fairly turned off by the minimalist piano stuff he'd been doing lately, so the layering is much more to my liking, since that layering serves him so much better, considering his language and voice.
I just hopes he continues in that direction, at least musically, and maybe somebody could slip a couple tabs of lsd so that he gets his bearings again.
Of course, I could say that about a few other musical idols of mine too...
qed said…
The Christianity really isn't new... it's been present in one form or another since the beginning. The lad Dave was just in denial, is all. It's not easy being a sensitive artist you know.
DJ Tobias said…
My first impression of it was not to good. The inclusion of different vocalists threw me off, and it sat, unlistened to, for a few weeks.

As i was clearing a stack of cds up, this was on the bottom, and I decided to try it again, on the actual stereo, not the iPod - and I love it.

It has impact to it - I even had the refrigerator repair guy as me what it was, as he thought it was a really interesting album.

as long as you're here, why not read more?

jihadvertising?

i keep seeing this ad for tictac candies:



am i the only one who finds the suicide bomber clown at the end a little unnerving? all the nice natural things like the bunny and the [extinct] woolly mammoth and the fruit get devoured by a trying-to-appear-nonthreatening-but-obviously-psychotic clown who then blows himself up. congratulations, tictac, i think this ad has landed you on about a dozen watch lists.

oh and by the way, showing me that your product will somehow cause my stomach to explode in a rainbow of wtf makes me believe that doing consuming tictacs would be a worse dietary decision than the time i ate two raw eggs and a half a bottle of hot sauce on a dare.

making faces :: hot stuff, comin' through

i don't even know what to say about the weather. the end of september saw temperatures at a scalding 36c/ 97f outside. this is especially annoying because we've had a moderate summer. most days it rained a little in the morning, the temperatures didn't creep into the 30s too often and there wasn't the normal stretch of a few weeks when it felt like we were living on the sun. now, we've receded into more normal fall weather, although it's still on the warm side for mid-october. that climate change thing is a bitch.

trying to think of something positive in the situation, it does put me in a perfect frame of mind to write about urban decay's naked heat palette. it's the latest in what appears to be an endless series of warm neutral and red eyeshadow palettes that have followed in the footsteps of anastasia's modern renaissance. [which i ultimately decided i didn't need after doing a thorough search of my considerable stash.] i do think that it'…

i agree, smedley [or, smokers totally saved our planet in 1983]

so this conversation happened [via text, so i have evidence and possibly so does the canadian government and the nsa].

dom and i were trying to settle our mutual nerves about tomorrow night's conversion screening, remembering that we've made a fine little film that people should see. which is just about exactly what dom had said when i responded thusly:

me :: i agree smedley. [pauses for a moment] did you get that here?

dom :: no?

me :: the aliens who were looking at earth and then decided it wasn't worth bothering with because people smoked even though it was bad for them?
come to think of it, that might mean that smokers prevented an alien invasion in the seventies.

dom :: what ?!?!?

me :: i've had wine and very little food. [pause] but the alien thing was real. [pause.] well, real on tv.

dom :: please eat something.

of course, i was wrong. the ad in question ran in 1983. this is the part where i would triumphantly embed the ad from youtube, except that the governmen…