Current 93, Black Ships Ate the Sky

David Stubbs

By David Stubbs

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

Longtime purveyor of “apocalyptic folk” David Tibet's peculiar wide-eyed, semi-narrative vocal phrasings and ardent Christian beliefs might have seen him plough a lonely furrow on the left field. However, his peers hold him in high affection and esteem: Among the many fellow musicians who appear on Black Ships Ate the Sky are Steven Stapleton, singer Shirley Collins, Marc Almond, Antony of Antony & the Johnsons and Bonnie Prince Billy.

David Tibet and friends collaborate for an album based on a dream.

The guest vocalists each take their turn interpreting Charles Wesley's apolcalyptic hymn "Idumaea." Almond's version unfurls like a velvet curtain drawing back for the Revelation, Prince Billy renders his take in stark, skeletal avant folktones, while Antony delivers his as quivering, naked a cappella. Tibet's lyrics for this album were inspired by a dream in which the arrival of black ships heralds the second coming of Christ. He pursues this vision with arresting conviction, first with acoustic treatments like the ever-increasing raindrops that precede a flood on the title track, before guests such as ambient “decomposer” William Basinski assist him in the sound-colourings of “Dissolution” with its eerie, digeridoo-like effects and the dark quicksand of strings on “Black Ships Were Sinking into Idumaea."