Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Music Review: Current 93 - Baalstorm, Sing Omega
The musical journey of Current 93 was launched nearly three decades ago, by a man Genesis P. Orridge renamed “David Tibet.” The rotating tribe who gather to work when the call comes from Tibet are Current 93.
Baalstorm, Sing Omega is their most recent offering. Like last year's Aleph From Hallucinatory Mountain, Baalstorm uses the antique long-poem form known as the Epic. It is a stylistic device more closely associated with ancient Greek mythology than with the modern age. But writing in such a forgotten style seems to be a challenge Tibet enjoys.
There are significant musical differences between the two CDs. Much greater attention was paid to the songs on Aleph than to those on Baalstorm. The variety of tempos and instrumental sounds on Aleph worked to maintain a high level of interest. Those considerations are ignored on Baalstorm, Sing Omega. The new music often feels chiseled in stone, set forever. The cadence Tibet employs as he recites Baalstorm is also singular. It is as if any use of dynamics would destroy the listener’s concentration, rendering the entire undertaking worthless.
The subject matter of the two fables may be their biggest distinctions. Aleph chronicles a long journey to Hallucinatory Mountain. Baalstorm, Sing Omega also speaks of a journey, but one through the inside, an exploration of the self. If Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain is David Tibet’s version of The Odyssey, then Baalstorm, Sing Omega must be his Paradise Lost.
Homer and Milton are heady company for a dirty, former industrial-music pioneer like Tibet. But they are the masters of the Epic, his chosen form of expression, and are brought up as a reminder of what is being attempted.
As for the abrasive sounds Current 93 once specialized in, they are long gone. The music is mostly acoustic now, one memorable description being "apocalyptic folk.” The term suits much of Baalstorm, Sing Omega. Tibet’s darkly imagistic lyrics combine with randomly cruel melodies for powerful, often unpleasant sensations.
During the final cut, “I Dance Narcoleptic,” the ominous threats hinted at earlier are finally revealed. This is a gloriously scary track, depicting the unseen (and therefore horrifying) conclusions to which we jump. It may not be pretty, but it will command your attention in absolute terms.
Besides the final track, the music is pretty mellow overall. If you choose to follow the carefully arranged story, stay alert. Current 93 do not mess around. To paraphrase Baalstorm‘s most salient point, “Be careful what you wish for.”
Article first published as Music Review: Current 93 - Baalstorm, Sing Omega on Blogcritics