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Current 93

Prog Folk

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Current 93 Imperium album cover
4.17 | 11 ratings | 3 reviews | 27% 5 stars

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Singles/EPs/Fan Club/Promo, released in 1989

Songs / Tracks Listing

Maldoror and Durtro LP version:
I. Imperium I
II. Imperium II
III. Imperium III
IV. Imperium IV
1. Be
2. Locust
3. Or
4. Alone

Durtro CD version:
1. Imperium I (6:08)
2. Imperium II (5:48)
3. Imperium III (7:03)
4. Imperium IV (3:17)
5. Be (0:53)
6. Locust (9:49)
7. Or (9:23)
8. Alone (7:39)
9. Time Stands Still (3:25)
10. Untitled (0:18)

Total time: 53:43

Russian version:
1. Империум I (6:07)
2. Империум II (5:46)
3. Империум III (7:01)
4. Империум IV (3:15)
5. Время Замерло И Стоит (2:57)
6. Будь (0:53)
7. Саранчой (9:47)
8. (9:21)
9. ь Один (7:35)

Line-up / Musicians

- Current 93

Releases information

LP Maldoror MAL777 (1987) UK
LP Maldoror MAL777 (1989) UK
CD Durtro DURTRO008CD (1992) UK
CD Durtro DURTRO008CD (2001) UK
LP Durtro DURTRO008 (2002) UK
CD Durtro Soyuz DSM3371-06 (2006) Russia
LP Durtro DURTRO008 (2008) UK

Thanks to clemofnazareth for the addition
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CURRENT 93 Imperium ratings distribution

(11 ratings)
Essential: a masterpiece of progressive rock music(27%)
Excellent addition to any prog rock music collection(64%)
Good, but non-essential (0%)
Collectors/fans only (9%)
Poor. Only for completionists (0%)

CURRENT 93 Imperium reviews

Showing all collaborators reviews and last reviews preview | Show all reviews/ratings

Collaborators/Experts Reviews

Review by Warthur
4 stars David Tibet of Current 93's tendency to work with anyone and everyone who comes into the Current 93 gravity well has led to some collaborations with decidedly controversial types, and 1987's Imperium album (initially an extremely limited release) might well represent the apogee of that, with the musicians involved including Douglas P. of the ever- controversial Death In June and Tony Wakeford, who based on when this came out was presumably either in the National Front when it was recorded or had only very recently left.

Combine this with a title that shares its name with a Francis Yockey book much beloved by the more intellectual sections of the far right, and you have ample potential for controversy, especially when Imperium IV includes ill-judged lyrics about Christ being betrayed to and crucified by the Jews. (It was the Romans who crucified Christ, a point which somehow doesn't get across despite the chanting of "Imperium!" throughout the Imperium pieces, though since the same song also says Mary rolled away the stone of Christ's tomb perhaps orthodox doctrinal accuracy is not the order of the day here.) There's also ranting about "only the strong survive" in Locust, though in the context of that song it does not sound like something Tibet agrees with.

So, all in all a piece with some profoundly dodgy associations and implications (whether these were intentional or otherwise is rather besides the point), and one which I wouldn't blame anyone for veering away from. And yet, on an artistic front Imperium represents a remarkable creative transition for Current 93, representing the new "apocalyptic folk" approach of the project emerging from the shell of the old ritual ambient industrial format. As with many preceding Death In June releases, each side of the album is essentially one long piece - the four-part Imperium suite on one side and the mysterious "Be Locust Or Alone" quartet on the other.

From moaning, reverb-heavy industrial depths various sounds emerge until they ultimately coalesce into gentle neofolk strumming, with David Tibet rambling about his esoteric religious views and the depravity of the world. Lyrically, aside from the needless emphasis on sniping at Jews the piece is basically politically unobjectionable (though the Jew bit is a serious flaw which shouldn't be brushed aside), and whilst it's not always clear what Tibet is talking about in his sprawling maze of quotes and allusions, it's hard not to be terrified by some parts - such as when he screams "Take me to my dead Christ!" imploringly.

A marred piece, then, but one which is undeniably important to the Current 93 catalogue and musically rewarding in its own right.

Review by TCat
SPECIAL COLLABORATOR Honorary Collaborator / Retired Admin
4 stars This album, originally very limited, was sort of an experiment for David Tibet's Current 93 project. Previously, the focus was on noisy, industrial heaviness. The project was starting its foray into a more organic neo-folk style, and this album would help usher that in.

Imperium I - It begins with a dark and sinister ambience with Tibet whispering at the start of the track. His vocals slowly build to his spoken/sung style, but stays quite soft, but you can feel the tension building.

Imperium II - This is where the listener can start to hear borrowed harp samples that have been manipulated, bent and looped (the samples come from "Renaissance of the Celtic Harp" by Alan Stivell) which starts to come out of the menacing quietness of the previous track. There is a bit more volume on this track and Tibet's vocals become a tad more intense, but not by much. However, there is more of a melodic bent to this one, and the reverb is used as a very effective special effect to add to the mysteriousness of it all. It is a bit eerie, especially considering the questionable lyric content, but, at the same time, there is a pleasant feel to it all no matter how creepy it sounds.

Imperium III - Now there are some vocal effects with an extremely slowed down vocal sample taking this further into avant-garde territory. Tibet's voice gets further buried into reverb effects, and gets more and more intense as it continues, varying from spoken to sing-song styles freely. If you are not yet feeling uneasy by the time you get to this track, you soon will be. As the volume increases slowly, Tibet's reverb manipulations make it sound more like he is speaking in a large, empty auditorium. By the end of the track, though, the vocals and instrumental manipulation falls back in volume to a spooky ambience.

Imperium IV - This section seems a bit more controlled as the strumming starts and carries through the track, though it get some manipulation to keep things weird, and Tibet sound much more melodic here, but singing a bit out of tune at some points. Tibet also gets some of the Biblical references mixed up, but try not to let it bother you too much since it's all just interpretations of history anyway.

Be - A manipulated echo as Tibet recites one of his lyrical odes with some odd effects and strumming going on. This one is very short.

Locust - This track is much more traditional sounding in a folk-rock sense. It's the first time we hear any percussion which establishes a constant rhythm along with an industrial sounding metal strum while Tibet lightens up a bit on the raspiness and sounds a bit friendlier and melodic at times. The off key sound of his vocals is one of the signature sounds, but it actually starts to grow on you after a while to the point that you might make the mistake of saying its accessible, but it's not. The intensity builds over the course of the track (over 9 minutes), the vocals becoming more frantic and more instrumental loops get added in as it goes along.

Or - Begins with a menacing sounding male choir in the background buried in reverb while Tibet recites in a more oratorical fashion. It comes off sounding almost like a preacher talking as a religious sounding, old, manipulated recording of a hymn plays behind him. Well into the 3rd minute, a slow drum beat and bass replaces the recording. The subject of the preaching seems to be about the horrid signs of the last days which grows in intensity as it goes on. Two competing vocal lines by Tibet split off and start preaching against each other, getting quite loud at points. The drums pound louder and louder and get quite frantic along with chimes and etc as Tibet yells and screams out to a crazy climax.

Alone - A lone bass accompanies Tibet's oratorio and a drone-like sound plays lightly behind it all. Reverb effects surround his voice as the track continues, but the background instrumentation remains the same minimal style, but the droning keys do get a bit more intense. It's actually more interesting than it all sound as it is more like a recitation than anything.

The Durtro version has two additional tracks that were originally released on a 7" split collaboration with Nurse With Wound :

Time Stands Still - Different vocal lines are twined around each other as a march-like dirge plays along behind it all giving it a celtic feel.

Epilogue - A short spoken word piece that wraps it all up.

This is a bit of a strange one, yet it is still attractive in its own way, especially to fans of Tibet's project as it is one of the transitional albums as the project shifted it's focus from noisy music to a more pensive, yet still sinister folk sound. It's not going to be one for the masses, but then, its difficult to say any Current 93 album is for the masses. But it is still well done for those that enjoy this experimental folk sound. It isn't the best one to get started on as far as the project's discography goes, but it's still one that is quite important and even entertaining in its own right. Its folk with an avant-garde edge.

Latest members reviews

5 stars Somber and quite religious in a "what the hell is this weird thing" sort of way, Imperium is, oddly enough, an album I've already used to soothe myself to sleep on numerous occasions. Absolutely drenched in reverb, it has elements of both C93's earlier industrial/noise style and their later apoc ... (read more)

Report this review (#629511) | Posted by Triceratopsoil | Thursday, February 9, 2012 | Review Permanlink

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