KAT, WHO FIRST TURNED ME ON TO CURRENT 93 "HOLY CROWLEY, EAGER GIGER..."
I have been a fan of David Tibet's Current 93 since 1988 when its mystery
and beauty were revealed to me in my college years. Kat, thank you for
turning me onto such a great band and a whole slew of new music!
I have since grown with the band, going through changes in my life as they
went through changes in their musical styles. I have settled into
a very eclectic taste in music, but Current 93 has been the cornerstone
of my CD collection from early on.
Briefly, for those of you unfamiliar with the music, Current 93 is primarily
the work of David Tibet and Steven Stapleton (Nurse With Wound).
How to describe them? Chaotic, bowel churning noise; morose
musings of futility; salvation; destruction and utter annhilation;
richly layered musical sculpture; melodic folk music. These are all
just the demons hovering at the edge of the pit that is the music of the
Current. The sound changes and evolves with each release, many building
on the one before. There is no one work that can be described as
atypical of Current 93, just as there is no one work that can describe
them as a whole.
I have not liked everything they have released, as you will see.
But with such an immense body of work, there are bound to be releases that
do not appeal, in their entirety, to even the staunchest follower of this
band. I know that some will be offended as they read that their favorite
C93 releases are not as dear to everyone. All I can tell you, is
that you are more than welcome to your own opinion. David's music
touches all of us in different ways and at different times. People
often hold almost mystical attachments to certain issuances of the Current.
I have reviewed only the releases that I own. There a still a few
discs out there which I do not own, but they are discs I am not overly
fond of. They will be added when I find them used. For a more
chronological and complete listing of the entire canon, to include LPs,
please go to Skot's Official C93 page on Brainwashed.com. For more
detailed opinions, to include tracklistings and cover art, you should take
a look at Satya's Current 93 page at longshadows.com. It is a much
more professional and pleasing layout - super informative.
Ten Current 93 Releases as per Ryoko and the Oni
Thunder Perfect Mind
IHave a Special Plan for this World
Dog's Blood Rising
Lucifer Over London
All the Pretty Horsies, the Trilogy
Soft Black Stars
Sleep has His House
and the Pale Queens: MAL 666CD, circa 1988. This CD consists of 7 tracks
of varying quality. The first four are among C93's better works. Dogun
is almost danceable (!) with a great drumbeat, distorted loops, and the
mixing refrains of "Destruction/Take the torch to daddy's house." The Ballad
of Christ and the Pale Queens is the standout song on this CD. A hard strum
on the guitar opens this folksy track, with nice wood block percussion.
The song is a very upbeat duet between David and Rose, and is a prelude
to the shape of things to come. Overall, this is a beautiful release with
only one problem. I'm afraid I find the last track, Mighty in Sorrow, to
be rather needless. For 20 minutes we are treated to the same medieval
sounding loop...No change, no variation. Some may find this sort of track
to be meditative, and they are certainly entitled to their own opinions.
I found it to be an early example of C93's use of filler.
DURTRO 002CD, circa 1988. One of the best of the soundscape periods,
second only to Dog's Blood Rising. This is one of those CDs that really
must be listened to in its entirety to be fully enjoyed. This is odd since
the pieces were not recorded together, nor intended for release on one
CD. I'm a big fan of Great Black Time. It's fabulous dinner music! Actually,
Dawn has more of a mystical feel to it than the Apocalyptic noise assault
of Nature Unveiled or the terrifying Dog's Blood Rising. I long for the
day David will return to soundscapes of this sort. He and Steven made fine
composers, and while I do appreciate David as a lyricist, I'm afraid he
has turned his back on another great talent. I understand that the LP and
CD differ trackless.
Crosses for the Nodding God: UDCD, 1989. This is the remix companion
to Swastikas for Noddy. The songs follow a different order and are mixed
differently as well. Some, such as Beausoleil, are very different sounding
songs. Everything you will see in the description for Swastikas also applies
to Crooked Crosses. I would expect to see this re released in the near
future, as I believe it is considered by most to be the better of the two.
I do want to emphasize that this release is well worth owning, even if
you already have Swastikas, or vice versa.
Runes: DURTRO 004CD,circa 1990. Being a cassette man back in my High
School and College days, this was the first C93 CD I purchased, and so
it has a great deal of sentimental value to me...I even got a tat of the
back cover. Other than that, it is a short, inexpensive look at what C93
are capable of. I recommend it as a good introduction for people not yet
in the know about this band. For under ten dollars, it makes a great birthday
gift! The songs are live and studio recordings. The quality of the live
pieces are good, and the studio tracks are plain excellent. Another wonderful
DURTRO 006CD, 1991. This CD was a surprising departure for David. Until
I heard this, I had known only two sides to C93: Nightmarish soundscapes
and dark folk music. This music is almost dreamy. Under the right circumstances,
I can feel myself floating away when I hear this disc. Some of the song
titles may sound familiar to you. I assure you, the renditions are not.
Alas, all is not perfection here. With a little more thought and focus,
this could have been the C93 lullabye album, full of lush beautiful music.
What hurts the CD as a whole are two tracks: Crowleymass and Paperback
Honey - cute, catchy, poppy tunes that are fun, but belong on a separate
EP. As is, they just spoil the euphoric daydream of Island.
the World Disappears: DURTRO 007, Circa 1991. One of many live C93
releases, this one recorded in Amiens, France. I'm not a big fan of live
recordings, but this is a generally nice job. Very laid back with sparse
instrumentation, this makes a nice follow-up to the dreamy Island. There
is also a return to the folk sound here (as much of the material is from
Earth Covers Earth) and an interesting version of Horsey, a track I'd dearly
love to hear done in studio. All in all, a nice fix for diehard fans in
need of more sleepy time music.
DURTRO 008, Circa 1991? This is a lovely, lovely CD. One of my absolute
favorite C93 discs. An amazing, spiritual work, Imperium is the release
where David's calling as a poet and a storyteller really begins to blossom.
The accompanying music consists of a lot of strumming guitar and underlying
noise. The instrumentation vs. "noise" on Imperium is perfect. I really
enjoyed the overall sound of Imperium. Depressing at times, but truly majestic.
This is a must have CD. The song titles make for a confusing track listing
by the way.
Perfect Mind: DURTRO 011, 1992. This is it. The best album ever recorded.
No shit. I'll say it again. This is the best album EVER recorded. By anyone.
C93 will probably never again reach the godhead they attained with this
remarkable release. I buy a copy every time I see one used...Just in case.
Greedy and selfish of me I know. So sorry. David finds the perfect mix
on TPM, between vocals and instruments, noise and music. Every song is
an absolute masterpiece. We all have our favorites but mine are Hitler
As Kalki, Riverdeadbank, and Rosy Stars Fall From Heaven - a song as bone
chilling in its own right as anything C93 released in their early years.
The closest David has ever come to touching this was the wonderful project
Nature and Organization with Michael Cashmore. This would make an excellent
starting point for someone interested in this band. Bonus notches - Very
Covers Earth: DURTRO 012, 1992. ECE was originally released in 1988.
The CD itself is folksy Current in the vein of Swastikas. The songs herein,
however, are more melodic and beautiful. Even so, this CD still gives no
indication of a band that is capable of the dreamy splendor of Island.
We are given many bonuses with the CD release. There are four nicely done
live tracks (three of which appear on the Portable Altamont), and a long
final track, that is, partially at least, a remix of my fave C93 tune,
Killykillkilly. Actually, there is much more to it than that, but it is
the portion of the song which most stands out in my mind. A must have release.
As Kalki: DURTRO 014, 1993. This live recording was taken from three
concerts after the release of Thunder perfect Mind. While David describes
the sound quality as average, I beg to differ. I found this excellent recording
to easily be the best live C93 to date. The five tracks are Hitler As Kalke,
Christ and the Pale Queens Mighty in Sorrow, And All the Stars are Dead
Now, and two versions of Imperium V. The songs are all different enough
from their original interpretations to be worth hearing again, and similar
enough to bring back fond memories. As an odd side note, the ending piece
brought back nostalgic memories of my fraternity days...If you can imagine
The Menstrual Years: DURTRO 016, 1993. This two disc retrospective
was compiled by David and Steven. The tracks were well chosen as a historical
archive of the musical evolution of C93. Is it worth owning even if you
already own every other release? Yes, as we are graced with a fair number
of unreleased tracks. And for those not too deep into C93, this would do...But
it would look so lonely on your CD rack. And what if it were sandwiched
between the Cure and the Damned? The Horror. The Horror. I remember buying
this years ago in a music store that carried nothing else remotely similar.
I had just gotten out of Basic Training and didn't even know this had been
released. Ecstatic is not the word. This CD was like divine intervention.
for Goddy: DURTRO 017, 1993. This is the re-release of Swastikas for
Noddy (1987). There are no bonus tracks, but the sound has been cleaned
up a bit. Yes, I own both, and I noticed a difference. Other than that,
there are some nice black and white photos in the booklet. This is a very
fine CD, but in my opinion, pales somewhat in comparison to Crooked Crosses.
Just my opinion and many would disagree. Anyway, this is one of those CDs
that simply has to be heard to be believed. Haunting and beautiful (North,
Since Yesterday), Apocolyptic (Panzer Ruin), folk (Oh Coal Black Smith),
creepy (Hey Ho, Black Sun Bloody Moon), even a little rock (Summer of Love).
Whether you buy this release or Crooked Crosses, you will be pleased, but
if you are a fan, consider buying both.
Ruine or Some Blazing Starre: DURTRO 018, 1994. After a slew of re-releases,
a live recording, and a compilation, this was the first NEW C93 since TPM.
I can still remember the excitement I felt as I made my way home with this
CD. I just as vividly remember the disappointment I felt as it played.
In all fairness, this is a huge departure from TPM, and it has grown on
me as much as any C93 release. This is more like one great epic track than
14 individual songs. They all have a very similar feel to them, and there
is not much change, musically, from track to track. The lyrics have center
stage here, and David shows off an uncanny ability to pull the listener
into his world and out of the stagnant background. This CD is a testament
to David's skills as a writer as well as the strength of his emotive voice.
If David's lyrical skill blossomed on Imperium, they are in full bloom
here. Still, this is not a favorite of mine, but it does find its way into
my CD player when the mood hits me, most often as I drift off to sleep.
Final Church of the Nodding Apocalypse: 1993/4. This CD was released
with a cute black and white comic showing the adventures of Noddy and that
naughty pixie. Lottsa Larfs. Comic aside, onto the music. Two priceless
and honestly indescribable tracks. But, I'll try: A happy little salvation
dissertation by David turns into a wicked smurfy little jingle titled Love
Dance of the Nodding Folk. Short and charming. I love it.
Over London: DURTRO 019, 1994. Hot on the heels of Ruine comes the
C93 rock EP. Sort of. The first two songs are dynamic and full of a churning,
restrained energy. Lucifer Over London is one of C93's best songs and makes
this worth owning alone. My only complaint is that they did not wait and
go with this as a full length release. They could have included a studio
version of Horsey (hint, hint), the fabulous I Arise (to appear on the
Crowleymass EP), The Great Satanic Glory (from Tamlin), and a few other
new rocking tracks. This was a good sound for C93, and one I don't feel
was fully exploited.
DURTRO 025, 1994. The CD store I bought this from sold it to me for
24.00. That was on its immediate release. They justified their price by
its limited release. I later found out the bastards doubled the price on
me. Well, if you don't have it now, I imagine that is the price you will
be paying - if not more. So, is it worth it? For C93 fans, the answer is
yes. For those of you with a passing interest or limited budget, this is
by no means a "must have" CD. Tamlin is a long folk song. It's OK, but
no standout. On the other hand, How the Great Satanic Glory Faded is another
POWERFUL piece, much like the music on Lucifer Over London. I don't understand
why David chose not to pursue this sound for a full length album. Two tracks,
one bleh, one yeah. 24.00. You do the math.
Blood Rising: DURTRO 027, 1995. This was originally released in 1984
and will be the release that Current 93 are most famous for. The overall
effect of this CD on the listener is so intense, I've seen it literally
shred people's minds. At some point in your life, this CD will get to you.
You'll know it when it happens. You'll FEEL it. Fight it out. Resist the
temptation to turn it off. Some things need to be braved. There are two
extremes in the music of C93. This is one, Thunder Perfect Mind is the
other. Both are exceptional, cathartic recordings. TPM is also the perfect
follow up if Dog's Blood brings you TOO far down.
the Long Shadows Fall: DURTRO 028, 1995. This is the first bookend
piece to C93's Inmost Light Trilogy. The tension and expectations that
this piece builds up are incredible. Lots of loops are used here, and only
sparse vocalization by David. I was quite thrilled by the direction that
this had C93 going in. While not as noise or chaos driven as earlier works,
that sense of majesty still prevails. The song is quite long, but it does
not overstay its welcome. A worthwhile listen if you are a fan of more
the Pretty Little Horsies: DURTRO 030, 1996. The first full length
studio album since Ruine does not disappoint. Like that album, the songs
on this release are very intertwined. Here, however, there is much more
change in structure evident between one track and the next. This makes
for a much more dynamic listening experience. That just means that it doesn't
put me to sleep like Ruine does. Pretty? Oh yeah. Creepy? Oh yeah. Sneaks
up on you too. Dead! Yipe! Bravo. This is a brilliant gem and one of my
faves. Bonus notches: The cute baby pix and the gust vocals by Nick Cave.
So David, How about a duet on Nicky's next endeavor?
Starres are Marching Sadly Home: DURTRO 031, 1996. The cherry on top.
The icing on the cake. What good is a trilogy if you can't end on a high
note? David's vocals are much more prominent on this piece than on the
first, and the message they deliver is not, well, soothing. Be that as
it may, it works very well bringing the cycle begun on Long Shadows to
a close. A final note. These CDs are most effective when you listen to
them as a trilogy, in their entirety. Find the time, and you will not be
DURTRO 32, 1997. More live C93. The majority of this was released in
the late 80s/early 90s as a box set LP with NWW and Sol Invictus. As I
consider the NWW piece, Lumb's Sister, the best thing they've ever recorded,
I was very upset to see C93 release their part of the box set on its own
instead of releasing the box on disc. Buttholes. It's an okay live release,
with a few added tracks. The only real reason to buy this is to have the
best recorded version of Horsey, a slow building rock piece, deserving
of studio treatment.
a Foreign Land In a Foreign Town. DURTRO , 1997. This four track release
comes with a short CD sized hardback by Thomas Ligotti. The stories have
a creepy yet dreamy quality to them, unusual in this day of in your face
horror. The music is a nice little bit of accompaniment, but is secondary
to the stories. I'd rather read the book and listen to, say, Dawn. To make
matters worse, the lyrics are simply David reading the text. Great, David
does books on tape. If you're illiterate, I suppose this is a good thing.
My advice - For this steep price, you could obtain a good sized volume
of Ligotti's works. Buy that, and consume it while listening to some better
music. I found this release to be a bit of a waste...As an added note,
many have told be they disagree entirely and love this release. Still,
I have to rank this near the bottom of C93's works. Sorry, but to each
DURTRO 418, 1997. I assume the numbering of the CD is some sort of
Thelemic joke, but that's not my bag, so I won't speculate. The meat of
this EP is the dancey C93 joke, Crowleymass in versions two. Along with
the three tracks from the original EP comes a long piece entitled I Arise.
When was this recorded? Very interesting and different sound for David
& Co., like some kind of experimental 60s drug induced rock band would
come up with. I liked it.
93 Present, Alas, the Aryan Aquarians Meet Their Waterloo: DURTRO 038,
1997. Woof! Woof! Dog alert! To be fair, David never denied that this
was a piece of shit. In fact, the only reason it was re released was because
he was tired of seeing fans pay such high prices for the vinyl. This was
a sort of early C93 side project. You'll buy it just to hear it, as I did,
and you'll likely never listen to it again, just as I haven't.
93: A Gothic lovesong, DURTRO 40, 1998. It may be a while before I
get to this on the C93 page so...Another release that didn't live up to
my expectations. I suppose I have such high hopes for this band because
I know that they are capable of perfection. But, on to this CD. The first
track is a real beauty. This is a very concise song for David. By that,
I mean that A Gothic Lovesong is just that, a lovesong. Actually, more
of an anti lovesong in the vein of REM's The One I Love. I enjoyed the
light instrumentation and am looking forward to the continuation of this
style on September's Soft Black Stars. My problem is with the second track.
MANY will disagree, but I find quite a bit of filler in some C93 releases.
That may be the wrong word, but, that's how I feel. This track is as needless
and repetitive as the last track on the Christ and the Pale Queens CD.
That is a shame since A Gothic Lovesong will appear on Soft Black Stars
and the second track, Moon, is the only track exclusive to this release.
So, I would only recommend this to collectors, or persons too impatient
to wait for the new full length.
93: Soft Black Stars, Durtro 042LCD, 1998. The Inmostlight
appears to be finally fading away. Thank "Bob." It was beginning
to get rather overdone. So, what have we here David? Something
light and airy? Some effortless piece of minimalist treacle?
That's what I had been led to expect after reading some rather unflattering
descriptions of SBS. Still, I rather enjoyed the single, so was quite
looking forward to hearing more music in a similar vein. But is it
enough to support a full album, and IS it an effortless release on David's
part? A resounding "YES!" to the former, "NO!" to the later.
While all of the first eleven tracks have a very similar feel both in style
and in lyrical musings, they are distinct enough to me to each stand on
their own merits. Minimalist? Well, yeah. While there
are more instruments than piano, they are not a predominate part of any
of the first eleven tracks. But, as good as these songs are, the
reason you NEED to buy the LP or EXQUISITE limited edition digipack is
for the 12th track. Let's just say we begin to notice Stapleton and
Heeman here. The piano is still there, but there is more. Background
and atmosphere energize this track and set a mood . The previous
tracks depended on David's vocals for that. I cannot help but feel
that this would have been an even better release had the majority of the
album been wrought in this fashion, with only a couple of the sparser recordings
thrown if to break things up. This is not meant to sound like it
is a failing of this CD. It's just that this final track is SO good,
it left me wanting much more. Any fan simply must have it as it is
one of the best tracks ever recorded by the Current. There you have
it. Bonus notches: The beautiful packaging and David's striking
colorful art. Think "Piano Bar" at closing time.
93/Michael Cashmore/Christoph Heeman: An Introduction to Suffering,
DURTRO , 1999: this is a collection of recent offerings by the
players in the latest C93 concert in New York this March. This limited
release (2000) is a Louis Wain digipack containing a handful of unreleased
C93 outtakes from the Soft Black Starres/Inmostlight era. The Michael
Cashmore pieces are accompanied by David, as his are accompanied by Michael.
The music all blends together and fits for me as a footnote to Soft Black
Starres. Also, coming full circle are two more Christoph Heeman Moon
pieces, like the one included on the Soft Black Starres hit single, "Gothic
Love Song." My opinion has not changed since then either.
A must have for all Current 93 fans. More loungey C93. Where's
my damn whiskey?
93: Calling For Vanished Faces, DURTRO 043CD, 1999: As
a birthday present to himself and his fans, David released this wonderful
two disc retrospective at a domestic rate price! It traces some of
David's favorite tracks from the past 15 years. The difference between
this and the last compilation, Emblems, is that there is no exclusive material
to this release save for one track. That's a shame, but this is still
a wonderful collection at a great price. I'd recommend this to anyone
wanting to see what Current 93 is all about. The gamut from soundscapes
to dark folk and lounge music.
93: Misery Farm, 1999: A funny little children's
song from Current 93. For all of its nearly 3 minutes, it is quite
fun. This is no musical triumph, but then I doubt it was meant to
be. Just have fun with it. Folk stuff.
93: All Dolled Up Like Christ, WSD 1999. In October of
1996, Current 93 played two shows in New York. To say I wish I could
have been there is an understatement. I've still never really had
a chance to see them perform live. The Military and cash flow have
been two major stumbling blocks, along with infrequent performances.
Luckily, the few times that they have played to an audience are well represented
on disc. This is among the best sounding of all of them, if not the
best. The recording quality is just excellent. The only drawback
is the hooting of the overzealous fans between each song - but I
completely understand and am actually just completely bitter about not
having been able to be there to hoot myself. The song selection is
magnificent stretching far back into their canon. The lineup is also
top notch. Both nights are represented and while I do prefer the
show on the first evening, there is really no fault to be found on the
second. Artwork - lovely, but the practicality of the jacket is lacking
unless you enjoy scratching the hell out of your discs.
93: I Have a Special Plan for this World - DURTRO 048CD, 2000. The
latest pairing of David Tibet and Thomas Ligotti is a twenty two minute
excerpt of madness which I found to be much more enjoyable that their last
pairing. This is what I get from the track: There is a scrambling
of garbled voices and scratchy frequencies worrying over an ominous tone.
Clicking in and out of this madness (the speaker's subconscious) David
speaks into his recorder (his diary) his thoughts regarding the world and
the special plans he has for it. Each time he chimes in, it is a
new entry as his his special plan begins to take shape. This
is so much more effective than the last collaboration because it is to
me a story which could exist in no other form and still maintain its chilling
power. The music is not just background to the story, it is very
much a part of it, as illustrative as the lyrics. Ligotti is a great
writer of psychological horror and this time David has found the means
to perfectly convey his work. Bravo. Experimental sounds capes
and a wonderful tale.
93 / Antony and the Johnsons: ST - DURTRO 049CD, 2000. This
accomplishes what a CD single should do - It leaves you positively drooling
for more. The first track, Cripple and the Starfish, Is by Antony
and the Johnsons. I read high praises from David Tibet regarding
this band and so was eager to hear what all of the fuss was about.
If this track reveals what we can expect from the forthcoming album proper,
the fuss may well have been about the best release of the year. So
many comparisons came to mind while I listened to this, from Big Star to
Tiny Tim. In the end however, Antony's voice is uniquely his own.
As for the backing instrumentation, it is as full and lush as anything
you would find on a This Mortal Coil release. The next track, Immortal
Bird, is taken from the forthcoming Current 93 release, Sleep Has Its House.
I am pleased to see that their sound has shifted yet again, this time harking
back to the dreamy sounds of 1989's Island. I really hate dissecting
a Current 93 song, so I'll just say that the overall effect of this reminds
me of a sad rusty squeezebox, an eloquent teaser of things to come.
Simply beautiful efforts by both parties. Words cannot describe.
93: Sleep Has His House - DURTRO051CD, 2000.
I never really know what to expect from a new Current 93 album other than
the knowledge that I will hear something that will touch me deeply and
will grow to love more and more with each and every listen. No band,
no singer, evolves as much as David's Current. He has done more exploration
within his chosen medium, sound, than most visual artists have done with
theirs. It is that ever-changing sound that enraptures many fans
of Current 93 and also may alienate many newcomers. Current 93 have
gone through many "periods," but there is no one defining album to express
their "sound." Each body of work is a unique experience for the listener
to explore. The latest is Sleep has His House. The feeling
of this album is most similar to that of Island in its dreamy qualities.
However, unlike in Island, it is a feeling that is maintained, uninterrupted,
for the duration of the album. The drone of the harmonium is the
anchor that holds this piece together. Its persistence may be uncomfortable,
but I think of it as the parchment upon which the rest of this work is
presented. It helps to bring out the sparse instrumentation and the
rich visual lyrics. It also makes this a release that is more powerful
when listened to as a whole. This is another beautiful and engaging
recording from one of the most prolific and consistently exciting musicians