The latest in a series of live recordings from Current 93, this 2-CD set documents the band’s performances at Toronto’s St. George the Martyr Anglican Church in June 2004. The first evening’s set is intimate and intricate, with such classic dark folk selections as “All the World Makes Great Blood” and “The Descent of Long Satan and Babylon” highlighting the softer side of the band’s work. There are also a number of new, stripped-down arrangements of classic songs. A piano and cello version of “Good Morning, Great Moloch” is more subdued than the original, while the already minimal “Soft Black Stars II” is even more gentle when played on a muffled organ. There are some surprises in the set as well, including the short piece “Nichts,” taken from a collaborative album with Nurse With Wound’s Stephen Stapleton, and a piano-driven version of “Time Tryeth Truth.” For brilliant moments, though, no other song holds a candle to this version of “Sleep Has His House,” originally wrote for band founder David Michael’s father when he died, that features heartrendingly broken wailing over stark pianos. The evening ends on a perfect note with a stripped-down version of “A Sadness Song” that builds into a lovely crescendo before fading away into the crowd’s applause. The second disc is a bit more uneven, but it’s full of unexpected nods to David Michael’s history as part of the early industrial noise scene, with sinister groaning tape loops utilized for the first time in years alongside intricate acoustic guitar and cello. While such favorite raucous industrial folk numbers as “Black Sun Bloody Moon” and “Fields of Rape” are an unexpected treat, it’s the industrialized renditions of later material that are the most fascinating. Layered loops of indistinct conversation and choral music adorn “Mary Waits In Silence” and a rare live performance of “They Return to Their Earth (Lament for My Christ Thorn),” while a recording of Freya Aswynn’s runic chants from the “Swastikas for Noddy” sessions makes a nice contrast to the comparatively gentle “So: This Empire Is Nothing.” As if to reject the bleakness of his early work, David Michael ends the set with two of his most hopeful pieces, “This Shining Shining World” and “At the Blue Gates of Death.” It’s a bit anticlimactic after the trotting out of creepy old favorites, but it also serves as a clear reminder not of where Current 93’s music has been, but where it’s going. This is a live album of rare quality that will be enjoyed by fans of both old and new material from this definitive apocalyptic folk project.
Visit David Michael online at www.durtro.com for more information on Current 93 and friends.
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