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Current 93 - Soft Black Stars CD (album) cover

SOFT BLACK STARS

Current 93

 

Prog Folk

4.42 | 15 ratings

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kenethlevine
Special Collaborator
Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Like the new age genre, neo folk might have existed before it was so named, at least from a lyrical perspective, but, while most bands so classified were influenced by the unlikely bedfellows of dark wave and acoustic folk, CURRENT 93 actually began as one of those industrialists. They remain one of the biggest names in the field, with a breadth of styles that might work against lesser artists. "Soft Black Stars" represents a genial foray into recited poetry over little more than piano and a few strings. Mastermind David Tibet has an affable voice for this purpose, and Michael Cashmore's piano accompaniment consists largely of fragments of melody of the sort that one might hear from a perfectionist student rushing through the exercises before this week's lesson. Somehow, this works brilliantly, the maudlin and ironic barely sung lyrics complementing the arrangements and adhering to the structure by a hair, and a fine strand it is. My favorite moment is probably this verse from "Mockingbird":

Some years ago
We had sat down and wept
With the sea in our ears
And seven cats on our laps
Whilst the books gathered dust
Unread and untrue
And you flicked through the letters
I could not bear to read

While most of the pieces are only as long as they need to be, the extended closer "Chewing on Shadows" shifts into ambient accompaniment, with a 3 minute poem recited over more diffuse instrumentation sandwiched within its quarter hour. I'm not sure exactly what to make of it except that I think it could have been shortened by half and still imparted the same effect without altering the feathery touch of the rest of the disk.

Unique within the widening diaspora of prog rock, "Soft Black Stars" is a gentle and exquisitely literate contribution from one of neo folk's brighter minds

kenethlevine | 4/5 |

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