Posts Tagged ‘Mystical’

House Of Mythology – 6th July 2018

Christopher Nosnibor

In expressing my lack of enthusiasm for David Tibet’s collaboration with Youth under the moniker of Hypnopazūzu, I seemingly gave rise to mirth with my reference to ‘pseudomystical bullshit’. Tibet can laugh it off, but after so long churning out material that veers between the indulgent and the vapidly whimsical, I’m not convinced it’s a laughing matter.

Now, I’ll admit, I’ve never really got to grips with Current 93 – their catalogue was beyond overwhelming long before I even discovered music beyond the mainstream, and their output exists s far beyond the mainstream that I had to pass through Throbbing Gristle, Whitehouse and a slew of others having spent my early teenage years mining the seam of goth and (what was then) contemporary industrial and real indie to even learn of their existence. Context counts, and however influential Tibet has been in ultraniche, cult circles, it doesn’t alter the fact that some of his art and affiliations over the course of his career have been questionable.

ZU93 is the effectively named new collaboration between David Tibet and the ever-changing Italian group Zu, centered around Massimo Pupillo and Luca Mai. Mirror Emperor operates around a concept or theme that’s never really rendered with any clarity. All of the song titles reference the titular Mirror Emperor, but they who, what, and wherefores are absent, and there’s little guidance in the lyrics, which are fragmentary, hallucinatory, abstract and non-linear. This in itself is no problem: life is fragmentary, hallucinatory, abstract and non-linear, and we’re all accustomed to postmodern art and its fragmentary, hallucinatory, abstract and non-linear representations of the life experience.

Musically, it’s sparse but powerful. In terms of composition and arrangement, Mirror Emperor is widely varied, but very much leans toward the dark and ominous. There are brooding strings that soar and sway, drift and drag. There are moments of deep resonance and thick sonic density. Far from being a skippy, trippy, easy ride, it’s often difficult and challenging. ‘Confirming the Mirror Emperor’ is built around a dense, murky bass that booms and surges over a slow, heavy beat, before layers creep over and lift it somewhere altogether different.

Tibet’s delivery is the stumbling block. Every word is delivered with the same sense of immense portent, as if each phrase is a revelation of cosmic proportions. Which it isn’t. ‘And quickly…. A knuckle cracks… into space… Opens up her… and feels…’ he gasps with breathless wonder. I’m more breathless with wonder as to how he can still pull this shit off.

Tibet’s despondency at the emptiness of contemporary culture is something to which I can relate: his wide-eyed mysticism, more of a throwback to 60s hippiedom than the escape routes available now, I can’t. It feels oddly disjointed and out of place. While his fans’ belief in his visionary prowess and the potency of his lyricism, convinces that posterity will see him aligned with Dylan and Cohen, I’m looking at the Mirror Emperor to check out his threads, and I’m seeing none.

It does get easier with exposure: Tibet slowly diminishes into the background as the music intensifies as the album progresses. ‘The Heart of the Mirror Emperor’ is forged from woozy electronic pulsations which glitch and glow. Ignore the breathy, triptastic babble about the sun and moon and it’s pretty good.

AA

ZU93 – Mirror Emperor

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House Of Mythology – 26th August 2016

Christopher Nosnibor

Like Natalie Imbruglia, I’m torn. Fence-sitting is no position for anyone, least of all a music reviewer: ho-hum is no critique. But I’m torn between instinct and critical distance here. Y’see, it’s a fine line between spirituality and pseudomystical bullshit. And the trouble is, one man’s spirituality is another man’s pseudomystical bullshit. The orientation of most organised religions and many other credos includes a certain emphasis on collectivism and unity, but ultimately any belief system or spiritual framework is inherently personal.

This review starts on difficult ground: Hypnopazūzu is a collaboration between David Tibet and Youth. I’m a huge fan of Killing Joke, and can only salute Youth for his production work, despite the fact I’m not keen on many of the major artists he’s worked with. David Tibet is an entirely different proposition and is someone I’ve never really been a fan of. I don’t have any issue with Current 93 per se, and it would be a grave mistake to overlook their contribution to the development of the experimental strain of industrial music in the early 80s. I’ve simply never got into their work. But some of the company David Tibet has kept over the course of his career does give cause for concern, not least of all prominent neo-Nazis Boyd Rice and Douglas Pearce. It would be a mistake to call Tibet guilty by association, but perhaps he should be more careful about the people he works with: Current 93 re broadly associated with Neofolk, and the Neofolk scene is conspicuous for the number of dodgy people connected with it. And beyond that, there are an awful lot of really turgid albums in circulation, which, when not revelling in far-right thematics, are preoccupied with disappearing up their own sphincters while preaching high occultism.

To give Tibet the benefit of the doubt, he presents as a broad-minded individual, who identifies himself as a Christian, but has devoted a lot of time to exploring occultism, Buddhism and Gnosticism, and as such, appears to be genuinely exploratory (rather than hiding behind the pretence of exploration as a means of justifying the use of dangerous imagery), engaged with spirituality in its broadest sense on a purely intellectual level first and foremost. Which brings us to Create Christ, Sailor Boy. How does one position a work such as this?

The press release describes it as ‘transcendent, tumultuous, and tricky, the sound of two spirits skipping as one to create a sidereal glimpse into uncounted cartoons,’ and quotes Tibet as saying, “I am happy always to work with Youth in any way, forever and for ever and always and in all ways… I wait for my Ouija Board Planchette to receive his Mind’s Eye Text.”

I’ll refrain from making any gags about the mind’s eye, third eye, and the brown eye and keep things as objective as possible. In such a context it’s perhaps a mistake to attempt to determine whether or not this is an album of high spirituality or pseudomystical bullshit, primarily in the interest of keeping a certain critical distance. Is it possible to separate the aesthetic from the art? Perhaps: Tibet has also long shown himself to be a man preoccupied with the apocalypse, and the sense of apocalyptic foreboding hangs heavy over this album. In the current global climate, it feels entirely appropriate. These are scary and challenging times, regardless of one’s faith or faithlessness, and in this context, Create Christ, Sailor Boy is an album of our times. It’s the soundtrack to struggle, the soundtrack of desperation, of humanity reaching out and clutching, desperately for something. Anything.

There can be no question that Create Christ, Sailor Boy is truly immense in scope and depth. Particularly in depth. This goes beyond the human condition. And in many respects transcends vague notions of spiritualism. This is not soul music, or even soulful in the conventional sense, so much as music which probes the very core of the soul, pulling hard at the gut. From the opening notes – shimmering, sweeping synths and crashing cymbals – provide an epic and portentous backdrop to Tibet’s evocations of apocalypse and build to a momentous climax. And all within the album’s first five minutes. Yes, this is colossal work that’s epic on every level. Every level. On first listen, I detested this album, but it needs time to grow. And time to grow. Whichever side of the fence you may sit.

‘Christmas with the Channellers’ brings forth an ethereal subterranean atmosphere which typifies the album as a whole. It’s an immense track which brings together heaven and hell in a battle on this earthly domain and as Tibet tears his guts out through his vocal delivery, the enormity of existence is thrown into sharp relief. ‘The Crow At Play’ is a tense colossus, which finds Tibet rasp into a frenzy as he name-checks Gary Glitter. Yes, this is a work’s that’s socially engaged and as such it would be wrong to accuse it of being a work which focuses on the spiritual at the expense of the real world.

‘It’s tool time!’ Tibet announces in a wide-eyed and excited tone on ‘Sweet Sodom Singings’. Is the invocation of Home Improvement intentional? It surely must be. There is no shortage of lyrical evidence to confirm that Tibet is as in touch with the upper world and its culture as he is with all things internal and far above the flesh.

Sonically, it’s interesting, too, with tracks like ‘The Sex of Stars’ whipping up a dense sonic maelstrom in contrast with the psychedelic / eastern / industrial crossover of ‘Sweet Sodom Singings’ and the trudging ‘Pinoccio’s Handjob’, the ethereal spacetronica of ‘The Auras re Escaping into the Forest and the and brooding folk of ‘Night Shout, Bird Tongue’. In terms of textural range, it’s hard to fault.

In many respects, I’m still on the fence, but musically and compositionally, Create Christ, Sailor Boy is an impressive work. It may be pseudomystical bullshit, but it’s a powerful album that has a lot of listening hours in it.

 

Hypnozazu - Create Christ Sailor Boy