Saturday, 3 November 2012

Current 93 - Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre

Of Ruine or Some Blazing Starre - The Broken Heart of Man is an album by English band Current 93. Although musically one of Current 93's gentlest albums it is also lyrically very dark, prominently featuring the motif of blood, menstrual and otherwise. David Tibet states in the liner notes that all songs should be regarded as one piece of music; indeed, the album is similar to a stream-of-consciousness narrative, and several tracks contain similar - and in some cases, identical - musical themes. For example, the last three tracks were intended as a single piece, and are often performed live as such. Portions of the song are also musically identical to the Thunder Perfect Mind-era live song "Imperium V", which serves as a lyrical prelude as well.

According to David Keenan, author of England's Hidden Reverse, this album is Current 93's best, and listening to it again all these years later, it's hard to disagree. Partly explaining the album's success is its efficient length and linear, narrative trajectory. The liner notes instruct the listener that the album "is to be regarded as one piece," with the track separations representing chapters or sections. Compared to the sprawling double-album that preceded it, Of Ruine is refreshing in its slimness, each track bleeding into the next in a very organic way. Although each track has its own unique melody and atmosphere, the compositional palette across the album remains consistent and minimal: Cashmore's fingerpicked guitar and bass, filled out with Stapleton's psychedelic drones. Only the occasional sprikling of bells or a brief percussive introduction interrupts the album's striking simplicity. Tibet's vocals are occasional joined by Phoebe Cheshire, who opens the album by reading a peculiar quote from British cat artist Louis Wain, a surreal and poetic description of a kitten playing with a ball.

For this album, Tibet and Cashmore drew heavily upon medieval music, directly adapting or drawing inspiration from a suite of liturgical, consort and funeral pieces by composers such as Anthony Holborne, William Lawes and Calum Ruadh. This gives the album a courtliness and melodic coherence that stands out in Current 93's considerable oevre. The production on the album is also first-rate, highlighting each resonant pluck of the guitars, with a canny use of echo and reverb that punctuates the text.

Even with the artwork, newer fans of Current 93 have ample reason to rejoice. This album not only fills in the missing link between its better-known bookends, but it is also a striking masterpiece of subtlety and restrained beauty.
Jonathan Dean

This release falls into that portion of Current 93's discography which also includes the "Inmost Light Trilogy", which consists of the EP Where the Long Shadows Fall (1995), and the full-lengths All the Pretty Little Horses (1996) and The Starres Are Marching Sadly Home (1996). Like these albums, Of Ruine takes inspiration from English painter Louis Wain, to whom the record is dedicated to in the liner notes, along with Royalist composer William Lawes, writer H.R. Wakefield and painter Charles Sims.

Yet, despite the thematic similarities to the abovementioned albums, Of Ruine is of a much darker breed, at points so dismal it is almost unbearable (e.g. "I have seen this world as a great howl of the great which all our hopes flicker out..."). But, following the maelstorm of grief of the first half of the album, joy slowly returns like the initial rays of sunlight struggling through a thick, grey mist, as Tibet begins preaching with the passion of a prophet (e.g. "God is not dead for all of us!").

Musically, the songs are very minimalistic, with Michael Cashmore weaving intricate, and always breathaking, neoclassical guitar compositions, and Steven Stapleton providing drones and other sounds.

Overall, this is a very engaging (albeit extremelly emotionally demanding) album and one of Current 93's greatest releases.

i'd be hard pressed to give anything C93 did 1990-2009 less than four stars so yeah this album is getting that, even though it kind of does "nothing special" other than just doing what C93 did best, it's still fucking beautiful. special mention to "all the world makes great blood" which just makes me want to curl up in a fetal position and weep like WHY IS EVERYTHING SO FUCKING BEAUTIFUL AND TRANSIENT while possibly smashing something with my hands asjsasgasgjahsighaji


Chris Seddon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Chris Seddon said...

Good but not as good as Thunder Perfect Mind imo

_Black_Acrylic said...

It's a much underrated gem though, and I was intrigued my the Louis Wain connection.

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