Skip to main content

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?

mental health mondays :: the war at home

what's worse than being sent off to war when you're barely old enough to order a drink in a bar? making it home only to get poisoned by the government that sent you there. 
although it's certainly not a secret, i don't find that the opiate/ opioid crisis happening in america gets nearly the attention it deserves. at least, what attention it gets just seems to repeat "thousands of people are dying, it's terrible", without ever explaining how things got to the state they are now. there's mention of heroin becoming cheaper, of shameful over-prescriptions and dumping of pills in poorly regulated states/ counties, etc. but too much of the media coverage seems content to say that there's a problem and leave it at that.

one of the things that might be hindering debate is that a very big problem likely has a lot of different causes, which means that it's important to break it down into smaller problems to deal with it. and one of those problems conne…

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.

digging for [audio] treasure

my computer tells me that i need to cut down the amount of music stored on my overstuffed hard drive. my ears tell me that that would deprive me of some wonderful listening experiences. 
halifax, nova scotia was not the easiest place to find out about music with limited appeal. it was a very music-centred city, to be sure, but, being smaller, things like noise, industrial, and experimental music struggled to gain a foothold, even as the alternative rock scene exploded in the early nineties. i was lucky enough to have some friends who were happy to share music that they loved, but i knew that there were lots of things that i was missing out on.

with the dawn of the internet, and various types of music sharing, i found myself able to discover bands that i'd heard about, but never managed to track down, from the days of underground cassette culture. and, to my surprise and elation, many of them do very much live up to what i'd imagined from reading descriptions of them in catalo…