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Current 93 - All The Pretty Little Horses CD (album) cover


Current 93


Prog Folk

4.26 | 20 ratings

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Prog-Folk Team
4 stars Imbuing nursery rhymes with sinister musical, vocal and lyrical overtones, CURRENT 93's "All the Pretty Horses" is about as viscerally disturbing as broadly defined folk music can get. It's as if SPIROGYRA and THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND were stripped of their tenuous sanity layer by layer. I understand this band goes back to the early 1980s but leader David Tibet, a pioneer of industrial pop at the time, only turned to twisted folk after meeting early English pioneer SHIRLEY COLLINS in the 1990s. The result was nothing like her work, yet could never have existed without her influence.

Against all odds, some of this is shimmering in its beauty, even as you over clutch the edge of your seat until the stuffing extrudes. In particular, the short pieces that comprise the bulk of the tracks combine hypnotic and minimalist melodies with heavily enunciated barely sung words and sonorous acoustic guitar. Apart from the lullabye "All the Pretty Horses", "The Bloodbells Chime" is almost pure acoustic bliss with innocent if creepy cliches, while "The Inmost Light" begins to insert dissonant voices that add to the growing sense of foreboding. "The Frolic" is a much longer track that is in the vein of the brief experiments, just successfully elasticized, and with a macabre closing. Then again, "The Inmost Night" might be where Tibet could ease off the throttle. It's all well and good to be privy to the ruminations of a disturbed mind, but dementia?

The two climactic "epics" veer sharply towards post rock, particularly "Twilight Twilight", which fails to engage for more than a third of its considerable duration, while "The Inmost Light Itself" represents a continuation of "Inmost Light" but with considerably more overt vitriol. The album ends with a reprise of the title track and the ambient "Patripassian".

Just like the music herein, the album deliberately lacks balance. It's one that invites, nay, demands, at least rudimentary pangs of interpretation. Regardless, it erodes prior set points for progressive folk. I won't get on my high horse here but I'm pretty sure this intriguing if mildly flawed effort deserves a roundup.

kenethlevine | 4/5 |


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