Current 93



by Meatplow USER (111 Reviews)
September 11th, 2009 | 13 replies

Release Date: 1987 | Tracklist

"The Lord is my shepherd, i shall not want, he leadeth me into green pastures..."

Such is the opening line whispered by David Tibet at the very beginning of the Current 93 release Imperium. An enigmatic frontman if their ever was one, as the only consistent member and main creative force behind the act Tibet (real name David Michael Bunting) has always been in something of a thematically odd position. A practicing Christian, Tibet is interested in studying all manner of esoteric spiritual beliefs such as Germanic Paganism and the lore or the Church of Satan alongside controversial figures from the worlds of industrial and neo-folk music such as Douglas P. (Death In June), Genesis P-orridge (Throbbing Gristle, Psychic TV) and Boyd Rice. Bringing these influences to his lyrical themes, Current 93 started off as an exercise in lengthy, self-indulgent ambient with just a hint of industrial and folk influences on cassette releases such as Mi-Mort & LAShTAL (both were packaged together on the LP comp Nature Unveiled in 1984) with Dogs Blood Rising released the same year.

This period was a string of hit or miss experimentation, which lasted from roughly 1983 to 1987. Dawn was the last Current 93 pure ambient release (and potentially the worst) but if it made one thing clear it was that the band couldn't continue like this for long and was threatening to break into something new. The folk influence was becoming evidently stronger, whilst Tibets vocal bleatings about Jesus demonstrated an as of yet unheard of manic energy that showed a lot of potential to be developed into something much more haunting. 1987's Imperium is a transitional point for Current 93, along with 1988's Christ and the Pale Queens Mighty in Sorrow the album saw a much focused effort on songwriting, helping to define the work of the new circle of British post-industrial "Apocalyptic Folk" musicians at the time (so called because of a common shared belief in the end of the world more then a shared tonal characteristic) which later developed into the scene known today as neo-folk.

The original LP pressing of Imperium was divided into two sides. Side A features the albums centerpiece, Imperium I-IV. Side B has four separate tracks Be, Locust, Or and Alone. Two separate tracks were featured on the CD release, Time Stands Still and Untitled. Imperium I-IV is completely haunting, inspired by themes of death in the Sakya tradition of Tibetan Buddhism and Francis Parker Yockey's 1948 critique of materialism and rationalism Imperium: The Philosophy of History and Politics from which it takes it's title. Tibet speaks frankly of mans earthly dissatisfaction, obsession with material objects and ultimately the fear of death within us all through language that is wonderfully poetic, painting vivid imagery. The music is a slow burning affair, Imperium I-III building up from some simple, but lush sounding instrumentation that retains some of the ambient feel of C93's earlier work but with more of a focus on comfortably housing lyrical content. There is a flashy, golden feel to the timbral quality which gives it something of an ancient European mystique, giving a sense of majesty to the dark, low pitch gurgling sounds and melancholic piano sections that characterise the rest of it. Imperium IV is the perfect conclusion to this, as a simple, but utterly beautiful rhythmic section based around guitar and piano plays whilst Tibet sings about the life of Jesus.

Be, Locust, Or and Alone conclude the rest of the album, and are equally solid. Be is a simple little folk piece unlike Imperium IV (or anything else C93 had recorded up until that point), that stands out from anything they've released since by the inclusion of what seems to the pressing of a "push the button" childs toy at the end of each bar (making the noise "Ni-Ni-Ni-Na"). It's a really unusual sound, potentially annoying but makes for an otherwise interesting idea. Locust and Alone are a lot more post-punk then anything, based around simple, repetitive basslines and jangly guitars speaking more of Tibet's spiritual concerns. Or is similar but more of a return to the ambient, featuring some of Tibets most convincing lyrical snippets on the album ("When I was a child in the belly of my mother!") and rounds off Imperium nicely. Though it wasn't an official inclusion to begin with the gorgeous, repetitive folk instrumental Time Stands Still adds a lot to affairs. Try to seek the edition that has it.

Even though its a transitional album for the group Imperium is a wonderful release in its own right, and whilst Current 93 have been been pumping out consistently brilliant LP's ever since it still holds it head high as an impressive work. The songwriting aspect is much more focused then anything that came before, a trend that would be further developed on Christ and the Pale Queens Mighty in Sorrow with Tibet's lyrical content starting to find its true strength and place as the heart of the music using a blend of several different religious and philosophical influences with touch of poetic mysticism that continues to this day.

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user ratings (36)

Comments:Add a Comment 
September 11th 2009



Imperium I-IV.

Also, I haven't reviewed in a while.

September 11th 2009


I could've sworn you were going to review the new one, but this works too

September 11th 2009


I probably should, it's one of the best albums i've heard this year and really needs a review. Pity nobody picked up on it around the time it actually got released.

September 11th 2009


what do you rate the other current 93 albums? i tried pretty little horses a while ago and i dont remember it hitting me very well

September 11th 2009


Everything after Imperium is hard to go wrong with, I love them all. Probably an acquired taste, though.

After hearing Thunder Perfect Mind, Swastikas For Goddy was the album that really got me curious about the rest of their work. There is so much to digest, All The Pretty Little Horses is usually seen as their best but idk Black Ships Ate The Sky and even Aleph at Hallucinatory Mountain could probably take that.

I've found it rewarding giving this group time, I wasn't particularly partial to any of it at first.

September 11th 2009


ya ill probably give them another try. it was just something that after listening to it once i was like ya this is good but i just never had a desire to listen to them again kinda thing

September 11th 2009



September 11th 2009


Damn good review.

September 11th 2009


Awesome review. C93 is way underrated.

November 4th 2009


To every thing there is a season
And a time to every purpose
Under the heavens

A time to be born and a time to die
A time to plant and a time to pluck up that which is planted
A time to kill and a time to heal
A time to break down and a time to build up
A time to weep and a time to laugh
A time to mourn and a time to dance
A time to cast away stones and a time to gather stones together
A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing
A time to get and a time to lose
A time to keep and a time to cast away
A time to weed and a time to sow
A time to keep silence and a time to speak
A time to love and a time to hate
A time of war and a time of peace


January 18th 2011


Locust is such a great song

the only track I don't like off this anymore is Be, it's so horrible

August 12th 2012


Album Rating: 3.0 | Sound Off

im pretty much speechless right now

March 16th 2020


Album Rating: 3.5

uhhhh... shame about the stuff about Jews on Imperium IV cause this album's really fucking good otherwise

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