Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain
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Current 93 - Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain
Almost in the beginning was the Murderer...
The new album by Anok Pe of CURRENT 93 on COPTIC CAT
The new Anok Pe CURRENT 93 album, ALEPH AT HALLUCINATORY MOUNTAIN CD version, released late April/early May 2009.
The first 93 seconds of the album are now available for free download at http://durtro.greedbag.com/freedownload
Invocation Of Almost (8:49)
On Docetic Mountain (8:14)
26 April 2007 (5:13)
Aleph Is The Butterfly Net (5:54)
Not Because The Fox Barks (10:14)
As Real As Rainbows (5:23)
David Tibet: vocals, July or Gorgon guitars, mix
James Blackshaw: 12-string guitar, piano
William Breeze: electric viola, viola-controlled sampler
Ossian Brown: synthesizers
John Contreras: cello, synthesizers
Baby Dee: piano, Hammond organ
Andria Degens: vocals
Sasha Grey: vocals
Andrew Liles: electronics, guitars, mix
Alex Neilson: drums, percussion
Rickie Lee Jones: vocals
Alice Rousham: vocals
Henry Rousham: vocals
Steven Stapleton: electronics, mix
Matt Sweeney: guitar, vocals
Andrew W.K.: bass, piano, vocals
Keith Wood: electric guitar, acoustic guitar, slide guitar, bass
The album was produced and mixed by Andrew Liles, Steven Stapleton and David Tibet. The accompanying booklet contains all the text, individual photographs of the band and photographs and names of all subscribers.
Four tracks into Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain, David Tibet finally relaxes his draconian, dramatic voice: "My teeth are possessed by demons and devils/ And I was by myself but not myself," he offers calmly through a patter of circular jazz drumming and a stout bass throb. For Tibet, who's spent many of the last 30 years pushing against reductive self-definition in Current 93, these two lines might be as close to an artist's statement as we'll ever get. Tibet has long written from the troubled threshold between his mind and God, juxtaposing images of himself as a heretic and an acolyte while sorting through interpretations of Christianity, mysticism, the occult, and the inane. In Tibet's gnostic vision, none of us-- God included-- is perfect or beyond reproach, so Current 93's oeuvre serves as a tool for self-flagellation and self-assessment. On his 1992 masterpiece, Thunder Perfect Mind, Tibet suggested that, "In the dark, you must look in your heart." With Aleph, Tibet-- a devout Christian who reads the Bible in Greek and occasionally writes and sings in the ancient Coptic language-- recognizes his troubles in another moment of solitary desolation. This time, he's asking for help.
Behooving a sinner, Tibet's rarely been alone for his most personal explorations: From Antony Hegarty and Ben Chasny to sound artist Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson and Nurse with Wound's Steven Stapleton, he's amassed a revolving army to provide sounds worthy of such intimate and existential conflicts. Aleph is a charging, rock'n'roll appraisal of Tibet's central concern-- living with respect to himself and to God-- supported by one of the best casts yet. Stapleton, improvisational drummer Alex Neilson, Chavez's Matt Sweeney, and harpist Baby Dee return, along with Andrew W.K., Rickie Lee Jones, guitarists James Blackshaw and Keith Wood, and the artistically ambitious porn star Sasha Grey. Carefully orchestrated beneath Tibet's uncanny voice, they create not only Current 93's most rock-oriented album to date but also a fine, fitting crown for Tibet's prolific decade. A surprisingly tuneful, consistently compelling mix of industrial stomp and folk grace, Aleph offers both a career-spanning capitulation for newcomers and a bold push forward for zealots.
As with most of Current 93's albums, specifically 2006's sprawling, apocalyptic dream-state manifesto, Black Ships Ate the Sky, Aleph is a concept album of connected scenes and themes. At its center stands an exploration of the archetypes we often reduce into binaries-- good and evil, dark and light, God and Satan. Aleph, the murderer, and Adam, Eden's original innocent, personify the warring factions of Tibet's mind. Instead of opposites, he makes them equals, where the existence of one implies the other: "Almost in the beginning was the murderer," two children chant by way of introduction, Tibet reverting to his decades-old trope of letting the most innocent of babes reveal the most difficult of truths. Purity doesn't last long, and anything less would be unbearable, the album posits. For instance, during its triumph, "Not Because the Fox Barks", Aleph has given into goodness and is "creating starlings with brightness." Bored and brooding, he hates it. Tibet understands: "This is Terminal Eden/ A killer of dreams/ Of hopes/ Of galaxies." Aleph rages again against Adam.
Aleph's music synthesizes many of Current 93's directions over the last three decades into a potent, relatively lean 54 minutes. In the early 1980s, Tibet emerged from a stint in Psychic TV with a handful of audacious industrial albums, in particular 1984's Dogs Blood Rising. Though certainly not formless, Rising bent barbaric howls and noise floods into long tracks that treated traditional song structure and quiet as anathema. In the late 80s, inspired by a nascent interest in English folk, Tibet shifted to vaguely song-oriented music written largely for acoustic instruments. Aside from various electronic pieces (see the excellent Faust and I Have a Special Plan for This World) and several heavy exceptions, Tibet's long kept his intensity but foregone the early cacophony. But Aleph unites those extremes imaginatively, plating rather pretty arrangements with slabs of distortion. Serrated drones slowly overrun the 12-string Blackshaw array that opens "Poppyskins", while blades of cello knife through the lumbering metal of "On Docetic Mountain". Drummer Neilson bridges both aesthetics, pushing the songs forward but complicating with nuance. It's arguably the most populist music Tibet's ever made.
Unfortunately, no amount of explanation or influence can move many beyond the hurdles of Tibet's chilling voice or his earnest quest for religious revelation. And, sure, Tibet can sound like the Devil himself, and any lyricist that's as wont to reference Reese Witherspoon or Tupperware as he is to recite scripture or quote in Coptic is bound to frustrate the majority. Perhaps the rising stars of writers like the Hold Steady's Craig Finn or Destroyer's Dan Bejar-- both wild-voiced poets who compose in hypertext, connecting ideas across multiple releases while incorporating rapacious literary minds-- have expanded our collective interest in singers who sound like no one else and write with something bigger in mind than the next hook. If so, David Tibet's got approximately 50 records waiting in his back catalog, with the latest-- the excellent Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain-- suggesting he's still a long way from the Omega.
— Grayson Currin, July 7, 2009
from Metal Ireland
Record reviews are not, or at least should not, be about the person writing them. However, you’ll have to allow me to smash the fourth wall briefly here to fully quantify what I have to say about this album - I am, you see, the rarest of all things: the occasional Current 93 listener.
Why am I making this ..well.. seemingly unnecessary admission you may be asking? Quite simply because Current 93 - or perhaps more specifically David Tibet himself - generally inspires either utter devotion or seething ire. The kind of flittering between enjoyment and indifference I generally hold towards C93 is not something I’ve ever really encountered in other folks I know who’ve listened to them over the years.
The last effort, “Black Ships Ate The Sky” I bought on it’s release and listened to a grand total of once, decided it was pleasant but monotonous, and have not had an urge to listen to since (wash your ears out, lad - ct). As has been the case with most of the other releases bearing the name I’ve owned in the past ten or so years.
I’m telling you this because it’s important you know I didn’t expect much from this record bar some plaintive, folky noodling and stream of conciousness rambling from Mr T. When the promo was forwarded to me by His Editorialness with the legend “sounds a little more like Om than usual”, I still didn’t expect anything too exciting. But if there was ever a C93 record the word “exciting” could be attached to, it’s this one.
This is, to be blunt, a Heavy Psychedelic Rock album. This is the album that has finally made me sit the fuck up and take notice. And this is why you need to know about my prior indifference to them - to point out to those of you who may not have been bowled over in the past that this album stands very much on its’ own compared to the more placid C93 of recent years.
Thoughout the 8 tracks that make up “Aleph”, it becomes apparent that Tibet has assembled a musical backdrop that does not just accompany his mystical vision for once, but enhances it and somehow lends it more urgency and focus. This music communicates it as clearly as the words in fact, coming off like some lost 60s psych rock movie soundtrack in places.
There are highs and lows, tenderness and grit, moments approaching lullabye and points that approximate storms all in equal amounts and all sequenced perfectly. Which for those of you like myself who have admitted to yourself that you, y’know, aren’t entirely following just what it is he’s going on about (Tibet’s personal theological history is a whole other article, so let’s just point to the repeated references to Aleph, Adam and murder and suggest this is a treatise on the darker side of the human spirit - ask me again about in about 6 months and I’ll have worked it out by then, promise), will no doubt be a huge bonus.
And yes, it kind of sounds a little more like Om than usual - though not like Om specifically, you could refer to anyone from Amon Duul right up to Journey to Ixlan - there is however the same desert hypnotism and sense of similtaneous intimacy and vastness to this record.
The biggest surprise though is Tibet’s performance itsself, as he sounds more invigorated and downright fired up than on the last few albums - witness the album’s pivotal track “Not Because the Fox Barks” where you can hear him deliver with an intensity I’ve not heard from him in years. It would seem the lack of musical restraint on this album has encouraged the man himself to ..well, to rock the fuck out as it were. Sort of.
This is still Current 93 after all. This is a rock album in C93 context and as such you must recognise that while it’s starker and more primal in relation to the rest of his/their discography it’s not exactly pummeling Heavy Metal. There is still the underlying meditative quality even at the fiercest points on this record that there is in prior work.
The haunting “26 April 2007″ and the closing Sasha Grey (yes, it’s that Sasha Grey) delivered “As Real As Rainbows” both offer respite from the droning riffs and shifting drums that make up the bulk of this work. And even at the heaviest points, if you listen under the ragged guitars there’s often something soothing underneath, as with the strings that run through “On Docetic Mountain”.
The fact this is more of a “rock” record shouldn’t really be too much of a surprise of course - the recent collaborations with the likes of Om, Andrew WK (who plays bass here), Sigh and Stephen O’Malley, the appearance/curation at Roadburn, hell, even the publicity shot from a few years back of the man astride an inflatable duck in a swimming pool, making the Dio handsign between two topless women should have been enough to suggest something louder and more raucous might be forthcoming this time around than the virtually torpid (in comparison) “Black Shapes”.
“Aleph” is that record, certainly, but it’s one that is electric in impact as much as it is instrumentation. Where to next is anyone’s guess, and part of the reward with this album is the fact that it’s confict of my preconceptions of what a David Tibet record sounds like means I’m anxious to hear where the man will take us from here.
4.5 / 5 - Jamie Grimes, 25/05/09
from The Big Takeover
There’s nobody like CURRENT 93. DAVID TIBET‘s long-running project occupies its own unique place in the universe, and he’s no compunctions about leaving the doors open and letting anyone inside. Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain is as mysterious and alluring as anything Tibet’s done. Joined by old cohorts (NURSE WITH WOUND‘s STEVEN STAPLETON, ANDREW LILES, KEITH WOOD, BABY DEE) and new friends (JAMES BLACKSHAW, MATT SWEENEY, RICKIE LEE JONES, porn star SASHA GREY, even party-hearty rocker ANDREW W.K.), Tibet conjures another mysterious journey full of psychedelic wraiths, hallucinatory textures, arcane poetry, religious mysticism and the leader’s distinctive declamatory wisp of a vocal presence. The amazing thing about Current 93 projects is that all the elements are present that could lead to an embarrassingly pretentious disaster. But somehow, through the grace of talent, discipline and the God to which Tibet is so lovingly devoted, everything always comes together in a dazzling mosaic of artistic experimentalism and otherworldly beauty. The brilliant and bizarre Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain is no exception. Play attention to that beckoning hand.
from The Wire
In the three years since the release of Black Ships Ate the Sky, David Tibet has overseen the unlikely transformation from a studio-bound project into a barnstorming live outfit. While still not exactly a group—the lineup depends on who is available from his loyal entourage of devotees and colourful fellow travellers—C93 has developed a cohesive musical identity and a surging energy that one assumes stem from the imperatives and attractions of live performance. As a singer and performer, Tibet has discovered new reserves of intensity and, occasionally, a kind of derangement that previously tended to lurk only in the crevices of his music.
Aleph reflects these developments, taking its cure less from the acoustic music that has comprised the bulk of his work and drawing heavily on the drone Metal of Sunn 0))), Earth and, especially, OM. That's not to say that it's Tibet's metal album—though in places it comes close. It's more that Metal is the latest in a long line of enthusiasms (literary, spiritual and musical) that he's often employed to alchemise a new direction in his work. It's the way that he's able to soak up the influence and transform it that makes Aleph such a bracing and hypnotic release. Its opening track ‘Invocation of Almost’ is immensely powerful, built around a looping organ figure that lights the way—just—through a blackened landscape of power chords, fuzz bass, keening spirals of feedback and lurching drums. For my money, it's the best C93 piece since 1996's 'The Frolic'. That the remainder of the album, with its switchback lurches between grinding guitar attack and becalmed pools of acoustic ambience, never quite manages to scale the same heights is testament to the first track's power rather than a criticism of what follows, which is uniformly convincing, fierce and frequently exquisite.
Tibet's epic text flows more freely over the music than his more Spartan recent work has allowed, a unique hybrid of personal mysticism, esoteric learning and dream imagery, complete with paradoxes, absurdities and nonsequiturs that add a crucial humanising element. In the end, it's his urgent recitation that captivates—more than ever here he sounds like his late friend and sometime collaborator John Balance of Coil, raving, raging, howling at the moon one moment and laughing at it the next. And now that it's become clear that these really are the End Times, Tibet's eschatological pronouncements have never seemed timelier.
from Metal Hammer:
Having carved out one of the most enlightening, richly detailed journeys ever to emerge from the British underground for the past 25 years, Current 93 appeared to reach a pinnacle with 2006's Black Ships Ate the Sky. A work of sublime, still beauty, its tapestry of visions cast a scintillating, apocalyptic glow with the finest of tools. Following David Tibet's collaborations with OM and Skitliv, this equally mystical and mesmerising follow-up has taken on a more explicitly dark tone. A doom and drone-tinged twilight pilgrimage, it's shot through with Tibet's wide-eyed, reedy rasp, whose stricken narratives are a shamanic, symbol-laden ascent into boundless acres of imagination and revelation. (8) Jonathan Selzer
Current 93, "Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain"
Written by John Kealy
Sunday, 17 May 2009
Words like armageddon and visionary get tossed about around David Tibet (for good reason) but with this latest album, these words seem too small and meek. As hinted on Black Ships Ate the Sky and the split EP with Om, David Tibet has embraced a blistering rock aesthetic for his apocalyptic visions. Sounding as psychedelic as Of Ruine Or Some Blazing Starre or The Inmost Light trilogy, there is also a heaviness here not heard since the noisy tape loops of Current 93's embryonic period. Tibet sings of Aleph (an Adam-like character), murder, and destruction as a huge cast of musicians and vocalists create a backdrop worthy of his vision.
Tibet’s mythology grows more and more esoteric with each album, a blend of his own internal imagery and biblical terror (stemming from his ongoing obsession with scripture and study of Coptic in order to get closer to the source). “Almost in the beginning was the murderer” states the child’s voice at the beginning of the album. From here on in, everything explodes as one of the best line ups yet for Current 93 let rip. Alex Neilson’s drumming sounds like thunderclaps at the end of the universe as layers and layers of guitars, feedback and distorted vocals tear through reality. During “On Docetic Mountain,” fragments of the familiar folk strains haunt the works of Current 93 swim through the surging pulse, creating a thick and disorientating experience which brings to mind Thee Silver Mt. Zion at their most raucous. Bill Breeze’s viola and John Contreras’ cello sound almost regal amidst the grinding fuzz that the rest of the group are pouring out. Later on, the rock swamps everything; guitar solos that can only be described as shambolic, face melting blasts of white heat cut through a doom-laden riff on “Not Because the Fox Barks.” There is a first time for everything in life and playing air guitar along to Current 93 is one of them.
With no particular focus beyond a general feeling and Tibet’s vision(s), Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain sticks out like a monolith in Current 93’s canon. Fears that this album would be a disparate work breaking under the weight of Tibet’s many collaborators were completely unfounded. Andrew W.K. and Sasha Grey may be famous for things quite different to Current 93 (as every single article or Internet discussion related to this album seems to dwell on) but they sound as home here as any Current 93 regular. Grey’s detached vocals on “As Real As Rainbows” are a world away from her usual performances (researching for reviews can be a very tough job) and she provides a sober and melancholy ending for such a vivid and energetic album.
Aside from some of the electronics and effects dotted throughout Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain and the knowledge that it is just out this week, it would be difficult to place this album in time. It could easily be one of those obscure gems that was on the Nurse With Wound list; in fact it sounds almost like the perfect lost treasure from rock’s past. “26 April 2007” has a desert rock vibe but instead of the The Eagles and images of the great plains of America, the music instead conjures up visions of dusty vistas in northern Africa with wanderers trying to find their way back to Eden.
James Joyce once said: "It took me ten years to write Ulysses, and it should take you ten years to read it." While I am not going so far to say (yet) that this album is of the same magnitude as Ulysses the principle holds true here as Tibet and his colleagues have put two years of hard work into making this album the monument it is. Steven Stapleton and Andrew Liles have worked their wizardry in post-production to create the layers of sound that form the base of Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain, the level of detail buried in the mix is astounding. With each listen there are further revelations, a warped David Tibet as backing vocalist here and a loop of noise there. I imagine that it will be some time before I have exhausted all of the album's secrets.
With an album as epic as this, it is virtually impossible to sum it up succinctly. It is awesome in that from the opening moments to the dying seconds, I am taken aback by the intensity and conviction. As a listener, Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain drains and exhausts; that Tibet can pull so much emotion from his soul and still function is nothing short of astonishing.
from Judas Kiss
Current 93 –Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain CD (Coptic Cat / Southern Records)
Written by Lee Powell
There are a small number of bands out there that have comfortably transcended the status of being just another musical group. And of this small number, even fewer are truly worthy of this accolade. Yet I’m sure there are very few people out there who have been seduced by the compositions of David Tibet’s legendary Current 93 who would disagree that they are wholeheartedly a group which is deserving of such highly esteemed status. So with the release of their latest album, Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain, it will come as no surprise that there is something of a gigantic wave of excitement and speculation surrounding it, especially as it follows in such close proximity to their last, critically acclaimed masterpiece Black Ships Ate The Sky.
There has been a slight taster or precursor to this album, if you will, in the form of their studio and live Birth Canal Blues EPs (both of which are reviewed here: studio, live) which showcased a more rock infused flavour to the band’s sound. Now although this has crept into some of their earlier work (Horsey and Lucifer Over London are a couple of examples), on this occasion it touched comfortably on the more avant-garde recesses of the doom and drone genres which have become the domain of Stephen O’Malley’s Sunn O))), Boris, Om, and Neurosis, along with touches of psychedelic rock and elements of the bombastically intense post-rock delivered by the likes of Japan’s Mono. So the idea that this shift in musical direction may become more prevalent on this new album seemed a safe assumption, and the opening seconds of ‘Invocation Of Almost’, with its ferocious explosion of fuzzed guitars, immediately proves this to be the case.
Introducing the album, the opening line, ‘Almost in the beginning was the murder’ is set against a fragile vortex of electronic textures and thunderous guitars that build slowly before exploding into a mindblowing cacophony of guitars, percussion and Tibet’s wonderfully delivered vocals, which intertwine with one another throughout the nine minutes of the opening track ‘Invocation Of Almost’. With epic proportions that come cross like a warped mixture of doom metal and the psychedelic, this is a wonderfully engulfing track filled with an intense passion and emotive power. Complex juxtaposing elements of instruments take on an occasional free-form or improvised feel, whilst all the time keeping one foot firmly rooted within the heavier recesses of dark, impulsive, guitar-driven music, framing Tibet’s vocals which are delivered with the passion of the most dedicated of preachers. These two elements of vocals and instruments work incredibly well and do nothing but complement one another perfectly. As an introduction to ‘Aleph..’ it’s a powerfully evocative track that frames the intensity and passion of the album brilliantly as well as showcasing the talents of the supergroup-like collective that makes up this assemblage of Current 93, which on this occasion comprises of William Breeze, John Contreras, Ossian Brown (Coil / Cyclobe), Baby Dee, rock god Andrew W.K (yes, him of ‘Party Hard’ fame), Nurse With Wound’s Steve Stapleton and Andrew Liles, Andria Degens of Panteleimon, Kith Wood of Hush Arbors and Bonnie “Prince” Billy collaborator Matt Sweeny amongst others, with each musician adding their own layer of sound to this wondrously structured album.
‘Poppyskins’, the album’s second track follows, and displays one of the other dimensions, sound-wise, of the album. The atmosphere and pace of the track is much more subdued than its predecessor, with Tibet’s vocal delivery being a lot more settled and controlled. Here, he’s joined by a layered accompaniment of cello and viola that is set against a backwash of off’kilter percussion and a distant swirl of guitars that produces a heady density which pushes the track along at a slow, meditative pace. It seems as if it could erupt at any second into a harsh barrage of noise, yet it never does. Instead, it pensively holds the listener spellbound whilst Tibet delivers his vocal commentary.
And so the album progresses, with track after track ebbing and flowing between complex washes of guitars, percussions and waves of electronic drones and the more pensive, folky, ambient-esque compositions which have a more chilled-out, head-swimming atmosphere, like that of a drug-induced haze. Often, the style changes numerous times in one track, making the structure and delivery of each one a complex affair, giving the appearance of an album in a constant state of flux and progression, with its development taking on an improvised jazz type of feel. In fact, it’s almost impossible to try and pinpoint a sound, genre or tag which fits even one track here, as this constant progression in sound never stays in one place for long enough.
This is exemplified perfectly by the likes of ten minute-plus opus ‘Not Because the Fox Barks’, which starts with Tibet’s voice accompanied by washes of dark electronic sound-sculptures and the hauntingly mournful strings of the viola, which are abruptly dominated by a pounding bass strum which sends the tranquil aura created spiralling into the distance. The bass sound increases in pace and tempo before erupting into a ferocious explosion of guitars and pounding drums. The atmosphere is pitch-black, immensely powerful and intensely threatening. The guitars build to booming proportions which are matched only by Tibet’s vocals, which push themselves to the forefront of this sonic attack and maintain an edge of fragile balance during the proceedings. And then, before your senses and ears are completely shredded, the track rapidly deconstructs itself, until Tibet’s vocals are joined solely by a bittersweet piano and string accompaniment which slowly carries this track into the next, the wonderfully moving ‘UrShadow’ which is perhaps the most folk-oriented piece on the album. However, as you’d expect when you’ve got this far into an album of this nature, it’s not quite that straightforward, and once again the structure and delivery morph through a variety of cut-up sounds, so it becomes something distantly removed from its origins.
The album’s final track ‘As Real As Rainbows’ is the most subdued track here, containing heavily accented female vocals which I believe are those of Sasha Grey, who may be better known to some of you as a very nubile and world famous adult movie star. She is accompanied by piano and organ, leading the listener delicately by the hand to the closure of what is one of the most surprising, impressive and stirring albums to have been recorded. And then, with the whispered line, ‘Beloved by the seas,’ it’s over.
Silence. The swirling swim of nothingness after almost an hour of breathtaking music and head-bobbing guitar and percussions is deafening. The only option is to sit and ponder what you’ve just heard. And then press play again. And again and again.
Current 93’s music has always proven to be immensely fluid in its delivery and has been a vehicle which Tibet has steered on a path of his own choice. Its sound has always been on a constant flux of evolution, and although this more avant-rock may seem a million miles away from the canon of folk-tinged work that Current 93 have released in the past, one only has to explore a small cross-section of their work, even over recent years, to realise that it’s never been so clear-cut as to sit comfortably within one genre or another. And looking back ever further along the timeline of Current’s history, listening to the progression made from the likes of Dawn and its complex soundscapes and the hauntingly fragile Imperium to the apocalyptically esoteric folk of Swastikas For Noddy , it’s possible to see how the evolutionary path of Tibet’s musical vision has progressed. Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain is another change in direction which, although it is deeply rooted in the lineage of its historic predecessors, also shows another side of Tibet’s multifaceted work, whilst delivering a diversely different sound to what has become normally associated with Current 93’s output. So much so that those of you who haven’t yet indulged in the Birth Canal Blues EPs may find this new direction a little bewildering and a tad less welcoming than you may have imagined. However, if you’ve been fortunate enough to explore the luxuriously complex and difficult post-metal that formed Faking Gold And Murder by Aethenor, which featured the distinctive vocal talents of Tibet throughout, then you may have a fair idea as to the direction, flow and output that Aleph… produces.
That said, even those who have stringently followed Tibet’s career and the ever-evolving parameters of Current 93’s output may well find both Faking Gold… and to a lesser extent Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain somewhat less accessible and immediately inviting than a lot of the band’s other material. So much so that it’s not until you’ve worked at the album, persevered with it, wallowed in its depths, then been seduced by its complex and evolving nature that it really starts to bed into your soul. However, once it does this, there’s no moving it, and with each and every listen the intensity and profound nature of the album grows almost tenfold.
It’s safe to say that with Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain Current 93 have safely entered into another phase of their life-cycle which is, perhaps, even more remarkable than anything else which may have come before it. And with a band that has such an expansive and impressive history as theirs, that’s really saying something.
So take your time with this album, experience it. Let the atmosphere and mood that emanate from its biblical tomes touch your very being and you will adore it like no other, as it truly is as remarkable as this. If this is the shape of Current 93 to come, I can guarantee that it won’t be too long before legions of old and newly converted fans are breaking down their temple doors for a chance to worship at their feet.
And yet I still can’t help think about the infamous Monty Python line from the Life of Brian: ‘He’s not the messiah, he’s a very naughty boy,’ and smile just a little, although with such a roaring, captivating and emotive album, you may have to question this.
God Bless David Tibet
from Plan B
“Apocalypse can be disconfirmed without being discredited. This is part of its extraordinary resilience”—Frank Kermode, The Sense of an Ending: Studies in the Theory of Fiction
David Tibet, an autodidact prophet in the tradition of Gerrard Winstanley and John Lydon, has been preaching apocalypse for over 25 years. But no longer is he a voice crying in the wilderness: now, every day, the air tingles with anxiety—global recession, energy crises, environmental disaster. Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain can be seen as a return to the matter of the first, recently reissued Current 93 recordings, whose ravaged soundscapes—a reaction to the Babylon of Thatcherite Britain—seem increasingly pertinent.
Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain is probably Tibet’s most ambitious project since 1993’s The Inmost Light trilogy. It is an eschatological rock opera of sorts, acted out in Tibet’s own bewildering, syncretic cosmology, the frequent incomprehensivity of which matters no more than it did for Blue Öyster Cult on Imaginos.
Its theme—which, as far as I can tell, is that of the war of opposites: flesh and spirit, Rome and Jersusalem, Samael and Monad—isn’t that important, except as a justification for Tibet to deliver some of his most overwrought, fire-and-brimstone performances in Current 93’s history. Those who accuse him of being campy and OTT will find plenty of fuel here: when he draws the word ‘murderer’ out over James Blackshaw’s Early Music flourishes on ‘Poppyskins’, or whispers that “my teeth are possessed by demons”—snarls of guitar like lightning—he seems possessed of both sincerity and an awareness of how ludicrous he sounds. A gnostic Vincent Price, he rolls his ‘R’s in his best Abiezer Coppe impression.
The (admittedly impressive) list of players gathered on this album is also unimportant. Except for Alex Neilson’s supportive, malleable percussion (which occasionally resembles that of Om’s Chris Hakius) and Blackshaw’s guitar filigrees, the ensemble is united in support of Tibet’s benevolent demagoguery. In what is largely a continuation and refinement of 2006’s Black Ships Ate the Sky, grinding rock sits alongside becalmed folk. Even the peaks of Tibet’s sermonising aggression are balanced out by plateaus of slowly-building tension girded with strings and organ. ‘26 April 2007’ is a narcotic glide shot through with coronae of fuzz; the voices—supplied by Pantaleimon’s Andria Degens and Baby Dee, among others—drift like EVP. ‘Not Because…’ and ‘As Real as Rainbows’, are frighteningly intense: the former verges on metal, Tibet ventriloquising the final tribulation amid vast, electric slabs—his incantations sound like Ozzy narrating the end of Clash of the Titans. After the extinction of Antichrist comes the advent of paradise in the form of a stately guitar and piano; and, when ‘As Real as Rainbows’ drops into a maelstrom of glitch, organ and piano—it’s as moving as anything on Sleep Has His House, still C93’s peak.
“The deserts will be filled/With the comas of stars” speak Degens and Grey in words resonant with the promise of the millenarians who captivated England 360 years ago—that another world is possible, here and now.
“I live in an increasing awareness that a Love will come suddenly who will finally tear our skies apart,” Tibet wrote in the sleeve notes to Black Ships Ate the Sky. Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain is the most preposterous warning yet of its imminent arrival; a vital reminder that the end of the world, if we choose, will also be the triumph of love.
CD Album (NIFE 004CD (EU))
- Current 93 - Invocation of Almost
- Current 93 - Poppyskins
- Current 93 - On Docetic Mountain
- Current 93 - 26 April 2007
- Current 93 - Aleph is the Butterfly Net
- Current 93 - Not Because the Fox Barks
- Current 93 - UrShadow
- Current 93 - As Real as Rainbows
Download Album (CC 004CD)
Current 93 - Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain is not currently available in the mp3 download format.
Current 93 - Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain is not currently available in the flac download format.