I've been to Iceland. It looks the way this album sounds.
Tibet and HÖH made a surprisingly solid New Age album. Chilly, transcendent, still quite dark.
His days of shattering our sanity with demonic screams were over.
The Bottom Line
David trading in the shrieks of the damned for a spacey, ghostly glow. Except for the trio of suckage towards the end, a mostly satisfying ambient excursion.
Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson
Bogomil Font (Sigtryggur Baldursson)
Ása Hlín Svavarsdóttir
Rinpoche The Venerable `Chimed Rig'dzin Lama
Johnny Triumph (Sjon)
Einar Örn Benediktsson
Tómas M. Tómasson
David Tibet - vocals; HÖH: keyboards, acoustic guitar, bass, guitar, harp, percussion; Björk Gudmundsdóttir - backing vocals on Falling; Akiko Hada - backing vocals on Falling; Thór Eldon - guitar on Crowleymass; Godkrist - guitar on Passing Horsesand Crowleymass; Liz Aster - backing vocals on Fields Of Rape and Merry-Go-Round; Bogomil Font - backing vocals on Merry-Go-Round; Ása Hlín Svavarsdóttir - vocals on The Dream Of A Shadow Of Smoke; Birgir Baldursson - drums and percussion on Paperback Honey; The Venerable `Chimed Rig'dzin Lama, Rinpoche - bells and drums on Anyway, People Die; Johnny Triumph - backing vocals on Merry-Go-Round and Crowleymass; Joolie Wood - violin on Anyway, People Die and Merry-Go-Round; Rose McDowall - backing vocals on Paperback Honey and Fields Of Rape and Smoke; Einar Örn - backing vocals on Fields Of Rape and Smoke and Crowleymass; Tómas M. Tómasson - bass guitar on The Dream Of A Shadow Of Smoke, Fields Of Rape and Smoke and To Blackened Earth.
Recorded at Studio Syrland and Hot Ice, Iceland between 1986-1991. Mixed at Studio Syrland 1990-91. Engineered and produced by HÖH. Mixed by HÖH and Tómas M. Tómasson. Cover by Babs Santini.
Special thanks Ásgeir Jónsson, Bo, Gunnar Smári, heidi, GSH, Akiko, Megas, Harry Oldfield, Steven Stapleton, Egill and Tinna, Jakob and Ragga, Christian and Eva, KJ and SP, Freidrich and Hera and Justine, the Godmother, Ási, Rúna and Anna, Thorn, Mannox, The Balladeer Of Doom, James Low, Debbie Fowler, Starfish, Balance, Denis Porky. The Dream OF Shadow Of Smoke is dedicated to the beloved memory of Karl J. Sighvatsson - may there be Hammonds scattered through his universe. Homage to the Lama. May all be aware C93/HÖH
In this chapter of the ongoing saga of Current 93, David Tibet travels to Iceland and collaborates with some of the natives (including Björk- can anybody record in that country and not work with her?) to create ambient Viking music. Like Thor Tesh.
If you're a fan of the early C93 stuff where David rants like a maniac about the Antichrist for a solid hour, then Island is probably not gonna have you moaning like a ballerina. This is Tibet in a mellow mood, although I should definitely point out that even while wearing his Mr. Happy Hat, the songs still have such lovely titles as Anyway, People Die and To Blackened Earth. It's not like he went all Olivia Newton-John on us.
I've reviewed Current 93 so many times at this point that I'm loath to describe the evolution of the project even once more. What you ought to know is that David was almost moving in on Enigma's turf on this album, minus the dancey beat. He even "sings" a whole bunch here, though Pavarotti he is not.
So, now we've established that this album is still a little spooky but whole lots less diabolical than previous efforts (think more along the lines of Coil, if you possess the point of reference with which to do so), allow me to say that it's nearly thrown out of whack by three songs in particular and I shall now turn my venomous attention in their direction. They have to be the worst things David ever put on tape.
Crowleymass Unveiled sounds title-wise like it would be all neat and evil, but an 80's pop beat holding up lyrics like don't give us no sass, we'll kick your ass/'cause we're the heralds of Crowleymass gives the self-proclaimed "wickedest man in the world" a truly bad name. Paperback Honey is a loungey bit that could pass for Blur in a silly mood, and goes where no track ever oughta- David Tibet attempting to be sexy. The Fall of Christopher Robin makes me think of The Human League having a psychotic episode.
The rest of the album is pretty swell, at least for what it is (a lot of mood and little in the way of "radio friendliness"). Lament For My Suzanne is sufficiently cosmic and eerie, Passing Horses has David whispering like a speech-impaired boogeyman to a haunted house backdrop, and Anyway, People Die is the very sound of the abyss swirling all around us. And hey, what is a Current 93 release without another spin on Fields of Rape (this take is called "Sightless Return", which is the path Ray Charles takes back to summer camp- ha. Ha. HA HA HA!!!). Reminds me more of Enya covering the original Death In June version than the nightmarish dash through Satan's bowels that David tortured us with on the Dogs Blood Rising album. Fields of Rape and Smoke is, if I remember correctly, a super-slow foreign language variation.
I think David's primary collaborator on this album was HÖH (not the one you're married to, Barry, but an Icelander named Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson), and my guess is that the other guy's influence was strong on here. Björk only shows up in a negligible backing vocalist capacity, so don't get a woody thinking she's gonna jump out of the mix and flog you with that goosey dress she wears.
If you like the coldness and oh-so-Scandinavian feel of Ulver's electronic phase, then this is right up your alley. Take that and fly in David Tibet's seemingly inexhaustible love of all things dark and mystical, and you're left with a C93 album so powerful in its first six tracks, you won't even care that three toward the end are utterly embarrassing.
As a side note, you should probably grab this if you see it, if for no other reason than its status as an extremely pricey rarity. My dumb butt sold it on Ebay for $12 about a year ago, and I hear that some are now paying over eighty bucks.