Tanner Babcock

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Current 93

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Year Title Rating
1984 Dogs Blood Rising 6.5/10
1984 Nature Unveiled 6.5/10
1985 >>Live at Bar Maldoror .../...
1986 >>In Menstrual Night .../...
1987 >>Imperium .../...
1987 >>Dawn .../...
1987 >>Happy Birthday Pigface Christus .../...
1988 >>Earth Covers Earth .../...
1988 Swastikas for Noddy 6.5/10
1989 >>Crooked Crosses for the Nodding God .../...
1990 >>Looney Runes .../...
1991 As the World Disappears 6.5/10
1991 Island 7.5/10
1992 Thunder Perfect Mind 8/10
1993 Hitler as Kalki 6.5/10
1994 Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre 6/10
1994 Lucifer over London 7/10
1995 Where the Long Shadows Fall (Beforetheinmostlight) 6.5/10
1996 All the Pretty Little Horses 8/10
1996The Starres Are Marching Sadly Home6.5/10
1997 Dogs Blood Order 6/10
1997 >>In a Foreign Town, in a Foreign Land .../...
1998 >>A Gothic Love Song .../...
1997>>Horsey.../...
1998 Soft Black Stars 6.5/10
1999 >>All Dolled Up Like Christ .../...
2000 Sleep Has His House 5.5/10
2000 I Have a Special Plan for This World 6/10
2000 >>Faust .../...
2001 Current 93 & Nurse with Wound - Bright Yellow Moon .../...
2001 >>The Great in the Small .../...
2001 >>Cats Drunk on Copper .../...
2002>>The Seahorse Rears to Oblivion.../...
2003 >>A Little Menstrual Night Music .../...
2004 >>Halo .../...
2005 >>Hypnagogue I/Hypnagogue II .../...
2005 >>How He Loved the Moon (Moonsongs for Jhonn Balance) .../...
2005 >>How I Devoured Apocalypse Balloon .../...
2006 Black Ships Ate the Sky 6/10
2007 >>Birdsong in the Empire .../...
2009 >>Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain .../...
2010 >>Haunted Waves, Moving Graves .../...
2011 >>HoneySuckle Æons .../...
2014 >>I Am the Last of All the Field that Fell (A Channel) .../...
2015 The Moons at Your Door 6/10
2018The Light Is Leaving Us All6.5/10
2018The Stars on Their Horsies6.5/10
2019 Invocations of Almost 7.5/10

Review last updated: April 24, 2019

Current 93 is fucking weird. They come from a very esoteric and concealed background. They have very strong, demanding images and themes involving cults, Thelema, Agape, uncommon Christian and Pagan mythology, Tibetan Buddhism, Gnosticism, far right-wing military icons, and their music suggests the belief in demons, God(s), angels, prophets. Listening to their music feels a little like going into one of those psychics that tell you your fortunes from a crystal ball, or wandering around in a "mystical" shop that sells shiny beads, rocks, Tarot decks, prayer candles. It also feels a little like watching the news in 1978 and seeing the mass suicide at Jonestown, or reacting to the Manson family murders of 1969. Not only that, a large majority of the lyrics and themes are deeply and genuinely inspired by religion and Christianity. Current 93 has close associations to the early first-wave industrial groups of Britain (the Throbbing Gristle, Coil, Nurse with Wound, Foetus crowd, artists mostly focused on tragedy, alienation, capitalism), and obviously the later, extremely tiny neofolk movement (Death in June, Sol Invictus, Rome, the cool self-hating Nazi kids), but somehow they appear indefinitely overshadowed and kept out of the limelight.

The two primary members of the band are David Tibet, a nerd, kook, a man who's more obscure than the abyss, and Steven Stapleton, a general pervert degenerate with a talent for extreme sound collage. The rotating members include the nightmarishly childish Rose McDowall, the military man and lover of Germany Douglas P, the mysterious Michael Cashmore, and they have collaborated with surprisingly big names like Bjork, Nick Cave, Hank Williams III, and Andrew W.K.. They also have known associations with people in actual obscured belief systems or cults. Musically, I believe there's a lot of real, incredible, beautiful talent here, on many levels, even if it's not totally consistent or approachable. That's what I'm going to get into here, because if I wanted to look up all of these references and allusions, I would need at least a week.

The group's first album, Dogs Blood Rising was certifiably influential, and undeniably terrifying. Like a bat out of hell, and somehow scarier than a lot of the early industrial works, the long sound collages and poems "Christus Christus (The Shells Have Cracked)", "Falling Back in Fields of Rape", "From Broken Cross, Locusts", and "Jesus Wept" are deeply horrific. The interesting thing about "Fields of Rape" in particular, is that it originally wasn't even a song; it was spoken like a poem. It had no melodic content, only harsh noise collages and synthesizer. Somehow this piece was picked up and given new life by Death in June, immediately after it came out in 1984, with their album Nada! the following year. Now, the song "Fields of Rape" has an actual melodic structure, with prominent hymn-like background vocals, thundering percussion and guitars. And then this song got another re-arrangement in 1991, on the collaboration album Island, mostly re-composed by Hilmar Orn Hilmarsson. After being a thundering death march in the '80s, this song has transformed once again into a mournful funeral ballad. And this song is endlessly referenced in the rest of the Current 93 discography. This is a perfect example of my theory about art, that no work of art is ever really finished: it can be, and will be, changed and reshaped at will, with or without the original artist. Every composition, every painting, every song, is a snapshot of a fluid substance, an ever-changing idea.

If you really want a trip into crazytown with sparsely-assembled jams, nursery rhymes, and fragments of songs, listen to the deep underwater cave of an album Swastikas for Noddy. This album is the bare bones of what Current 93 would eventually turn into.

All the Pretty Little Horses is not a perfect album, there's a lot of awkward things about it (like doing two songs three times each), but it has a lot of incredible moments, and it was blessed with orchestrated music euphoria. The album is also the most atmospheric Current 93 since the first two, with a lot of long droning soundscapes, echoing background vocals, and brutally intense carefully-placed children's vocals ("Dead! Dead! Dead!"). The songs that are the most sublime are "The Bloodbells Chime", "The Frolic", and "Twilight Twilight Nihil Nihil". An interesting thing about this album, is that it was released in a series, with an EP coming before it (Where the Long Shadows Fall (Before the Inmost Light) ), and another one after it (The Starrs Are Marching Sadly Home). The former is a twenty-minute meditation with crystal clear guitars and creepy, crackling vinyl samples. The latter is yet another return to "All the Pretty Little Horses", with references to other themes on the album. The album is a mysterious, wonderful, mystical, and optimistic listening experience.