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Current 93 - Black Ships Ate The Sky CD (album) cover

BLACK SHIPS ATE THE SKY

Current 93

 

Prog Folk

4.22 | 17 ratings

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TCat
5 stars "Black Ships Ate the Sky" is a highlight in the discography of David Tibet's dark folk project "Current 93". The concept of the album is based around another of Tibet's visions, or dreams, where he saw black ships floating in the sky in preparation of the arrival of the final Caesar and the second coming of Christ. One of Tibet's favorite topics is the apocalypse, and he doesn't shy away from it in this album.

However, this mostly acoustic album is full of surprises and guest vocalists. The first interesting thing that distinguishes this album from the many other Current 93 albums is the appearance of the Charles Wesley poem "Idumea" not just once, but 8 different and distinct times through the 21 tracks on this album. Each version of the poem is sung by different singers and each version is completely different from the other. Among the vocalists taking turns on this poem are Marc Almond from "Soft Cell", Antony from "Antony and the Johnsons", indie-folk singer Bonnie "Prince" Billy, Clodaugh Simonds from "Fovea Hex", "Mellow Candle", and several Michael Oldfield albums, and Shirley Collins among others. The use of these various artists breath life and variety into the overall album, and, interestingly enough, the use and re-use of this poem never gets tiring. In fact they help break up the crazed vocals of Tibet.

As far as the other tracks on the album, most are sung by Tibet. When I say sung, though, I really mean narrate/sung. Tibet's vocals are very clear this time around, which is not always the case on other albums. These other tracks feature Tibet's narration/sing-song vocals backed by acoustic guitar and violin in most cases, and other processed keyboards and at times, strange and eerie sounds from different sources. Most of these tracks are mellow and acoustic, but some are quite intense as Tibet's lyrics and vocals become more frantic at times. You get quite a variety of beautiful and also scathing tracks. Interspersed among these tracks are the different versions of "Idumea" but also other tracks that are sung by other artists.

Most of the tracks are short, usually around the 3 ? 4 minute mark, except for one track "Black Ships Were Sinking Into Idumea" which passes the 11 minute mark. This one is not listed as such, but is actually a 2 part track, the first half being Tibet in his most frantic voice which turns quite chaotic before it goes into the second part being a minimal section with the soft vocals of Cosey Fanni Tutti.

Since most of the tracks are acoustic, having the guest vocalists contribute to variety and dynamic of the album. Overall, the feeling is quite minimal as far as instrumentation goes and there is hardly any percussion present on any of the tracks. This solidifies "Current 93"s foothold in the prog-folk genre. On their earlier albums, the project was not yet sure about which path they wanted to follow, so at times, you got some very heavy and loud Post black metal sounding tracks, but as time went on, it became more folk oriented. But, in actuality, you never really know what to expect from this neo-folk project. It pretty much was decided by Tibet's whimsy.

This music is not for everybody, that is for sure. Yes it is prog folk, for the most part, but there are always elements of avant- prog throughout the music. The music is dark, and it is often dissonant and disturbing. This album is no exception. There are many times things can get intense and noisy. This is not your Father's folk. It is daring and it is unsettling. It is also innovative. It is completely driven by a mix of folk and prog elements. It is music I really enjoy, at least when it is at its best like in this album. Some of their albums are not as good, but this one is definitely the one album you should check out in their discography just to see if it is for you. Just know that it is both very beautiful and very dissonant in other parts. Easily one of Current 93's best and also worth every star possible.

TCat | 5/5 |

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