Sleep Has His House
Review by James P. Bergman
Sleep Has His House is a soul-shaking, wonderfully evocative release that is both stirring and powerful, musickally and lyrically. Perhaps the most intimate recordings that I have ever heard from Current 93/David Tibet. Dedicated to his beloved and recently departed father, these 9 songs are awash in pain, sorrow, and grief. There is a certain urgency to these songs, and they are all akin to looking through an old photo album filled with another’s memories, yet still somehow applicable to yours. Furthermore, despite the morose lyrical topic matter, this release also has some beautiful moments and some of the best writing I’ve heard from Tibet in recent years. The line in the song, “Niemandwasser”, that reads: “small angels hold parasols”, evokes surreal images of paratroopers in World War II, reflecting the weathered snapshot of Tibet’s father from the war years holding a parachute within the inner packaging. While the acoustic-folk guitar elements are still present, there are also tremeloed effects, and a nostalgic, pulsating harmonium that makes its presence known throughout the entire 9 songs. Nurse With Wound’s, Steven Stapleton’s contributions lend a certain strangeness to the overall mix that only adds to the already touching release. While at times the harmonium reminds me of some of Nico’s past solo efforts, at other times it reminds me of Southern European volk musick. Out of all the songs here I feel that all except the title track are veritable masterpieces of pure musickal genius, and the only reason I am not completely won over by the title track is due to its repetitive, and excessively long nature.
Buy Sleep Has His House at amazon.com or amazon.co.uk.
David Tibet has returned to form in a certain way on this one track, 22 minute length EP. It's been a while since Current 93 have seriously disturbed my psyche at the same time as my ears. Not since the days of the early material like Dog's Blood Rising or Imperium. Although this effort does disturb me in a much more subtle way than previous efforts. Therefore, in the end, it seems all that much more disturbing to my psyche. I was pleased to hear some newer stuff that does not include acoustic, folk-based guitar. Although I do like the folk tinged music that Current 93 has made in the past, I've always appreciated the more darker, soundscape-oriented material.
This effort is not exactly musickal in the strictest sense of the word, and it’s not exactly something that could be called spoken word, but something that transcends both categories of classification.
Upon first listen, one may think that what David Tibet speaks of on this disc are the ramblings of a madman, but in actuality he is reciting some of the literary output of author, Thomas Ligotti. Ligotti is considered to be one of the finest active horror-fiction writers in America on par with the likes of H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allen Poe.
The stories being recited on this release consist of twelve brief texts that are described as "a connected series of vignettes". The words come in only on the left channel and are contrasted by a long static hiss in the right channel, and the clicks one hears before Tibet starts speaking are reminiscent of an old hand-held tape recorder being pushed on. In between segments of dual speaking and hissing comes a strangely produced voice-like sound that is so highly modulated, morphed and decayed that it is not recognizable as speech. All of this goes on over a droning synthesizer/keyboard swelling, stretched throughout most of the length of the track.
In spots it sounds as if Current 93 has mutated into the sonic areas of Nurse With Wound, and, in fact, NWW's, Steven Stapleton, did take part in the recording process of this release, along with Tibet, Bungalow Bill, Andria Degens, and Purtle.
After 19 or 20 minutes of recital/musick in a repetitive manner, suddenly Tibet's voice switches to the same type of modulation as that applied to the unrecognizable voices, only we can still make out the words that Tibet speaks. This switching accounts for a certain sense of disorientation and lends to the overall feel of the subtle creepiness found within this release. Unlike the Imperium and Dog's Blood Rising soundscapes, this takes a while before grasping you with talons because it does not immediately sound sinister or foreboding. After continued immersion in the sounds and words the listener starts thinking thoughts that are not normally thought and mentally interacting with the theme of the recited writings. Very unsettling, especially if listened to alone and in the dark of night.
I shudder to think how this will be received by even the most hardcore Current 93 fans because of its non-musical elements. I've always told the uninitiated, potential Current 93 listener that, “theirs is a music that is definitely an acquired taste and that C93 will grow on you like a pleasant mold after a few repeated listenings”. True to form, this release took a few listens on my part before I completely warmed up to everything found within.
All in all though, I am excited by the new turn that Current 93 has taken on this release and I am now more anxious than ever to hear the newer material.
If you can find one of the vinyl versions of this release then snatch it
up because there are only 940 copies on clear vinyl and 60 in red, plus
there is a bonus mix of the title track and a bonus track of "The
Bungalow Bill" tapes on it, whereas the CD version has only one track.
Although the CD version is a great release as it is.
Durtro/World Serpent Distribution
Once in a dog’s age the European exiles that populate this continent are treated wuth a rare visit by a misunderstood genius from across the pond. Such was the case with the Current 93 shows at Tonic in New York City, for these British natives hardly ever play America. The one I saw, the Friday night performance, was one of three in a row, the third featuring Christoph Heemann as the headline, with Current 93 merely providing warm-up under the name “Soft Black Stars”, the title of their latest release. (Clever, eh?) Only 150 tickets were made available for each show. On Friday night, Mr. Heemann played as part of the Current 93 line-up, after a short solo performance which was itself preceded by a lame ventriloquist act (Jonathan Padgett and the puppet Reggie McRascall), and a forgettable set from Little Annie Anxiety of the band Crass. I couldn’t see a damn thing, crammed as the place was with black-clad Aryan supermen (and women) sporting sour looks, painted fingernails and various magickal sigils (most commonly the Sign of Thelema), but I used the time to catch up on my drinking. While I was guzzling my Corona, David Tibet walked through the crowd to the front and actually brushed up against me! (Oooh!) Set-up times in-between acts were thankfully short, so I was still in good spirits when the main act finally came on, introduced with no lack of over-dramatic, quasi-religious reverence as “The very good very God - Current 93!” I stole a chair from someone and climbed on top of it to get a good look. The audience started to applaud, but Mr. Tibet frantically shushed them, adjusting his microphone with an agitated look on his face like he wither had to pee really bad or was overcome with poetic inspiration that he had to express before he exploded. He continued to play the first few numbers in that agitated state, shaking his head like a dottering old man, and obsessively contorting his limbs like an autistic child as he rocked back and forth clutching his mic stand. The power he exuded was awesome. The audience stared in wrapped silence, completely entranced in blissful yet melancholic reverie as he sucked them into his magickal current. Some of them were even singing along, though very softly, as was he. I myself did not recognize most of the songs (import prices have a chilling effect on my purchasing decisions), but at least half of them had to do with “The Inmost Light”, a theme he kept coming back to which is probably a reference to gnosis or divine illumination. Despite my lack of familiarity with the material, I nonetheless found it very hypnotic (Current 93 generally is), and I, like many others, could not help but close my eyes and drift away. Even my date a radio DJ who hosts a show on “obscure jazz” commented that it was “kinda beautiful.” The acoustic folksiness of it made me wonder if that was what it would be like at a beat revival. All of the audience members seemed to share a certain kinship, although it went unspoken. The mood was very serious and at times Mr. Tibet looked like he was about to cry. He only lightened up towards the end, when after two torturous encores and a long set of “thank you”s to everyone who’d been tangentially involved in the tour (complete with hugging), we were made to sing “Happy Birthday Dear David”, as it was his 39th. Then Mr. Heeman plugged the surfing show he hosts on Manhattan Cable 64 and David made a little joke like, “I do recommend you buy Surf-U-Lite surf boards...” (The image of David Tibet surfing is so funny to me.) Then they played one more number and let us go. I was delightfully surprised to find that it was only 11 O’Clock. They had kept it respectfully short. I went home knowing that I’d just had a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and wishing I had more of their albums.