*from The Wire*
In the three years since the release of Black Ships Ate the Sky, David Tibet has overseen the unlikely transformation from a studio-bound project into a barnstorming live outfit. While still not exactly a group—the lineup depends on who is available from his loyal entourage of devotees and colourful fellow travellers—C93 has developed a cohesive musical identity and a surging energy that one assumes stem from the imperatives and attractions of live performance. As a singer and performer, Tibet has discovered new reserves of intensity and, occasionally, a kind of derangement that previously tended to lurk only in the crevices of his music.
Aleph reflects these developments, taking its cure less from the acoustic music that has comprised the bulk of his work and drawing heavily on the drone Metal of Sunn 0))), Earth and, especially, OM. That’s not to say that it’s Tibet’s metal album—though in places it comes close. It’s more that Metal is the latest in a long line of enthusiasms (literary, spiritual and musical) that he’s often employed to alchemise a new direction in his work. It’s the way that he’s able to soak up the influence and transform it that makes Aleph such a bracing and hypnotic release. Its opening track ‘Invocation of Almost’ is immensely powerful, built around a looping organ figure that lights the way—just—through a blackened landscape of power chords, fuzz bass, keening spirals of feedback and lurching drums. For my money, it’s the best C93 piece since 1996’s ‘The Frolic’. That the remainder of the album, with its switchback lurches between grinding guitar attack and becalmed pools of acoustic ambience, never quite manages to scale the same heights is testament to the first track’s power rather than a criticism of what follows, which is uniformly convincing, fierce and frequently exquisite.
Tibet’s epic text flows more freely over the music than his more Spartan recent work has allowed, a unique hybrid of personal mysticism, esoteric learning and dream imagery, complete with paradoxes, absurdities and nonsequiturs that add a crucial humanising element. In the end, it’s his urgent recitation that captivates—more than ever here he sounds like his late friend and sometime collaborator John Balance of Coil, raving, raging, howling at the moon one moment and laughing at it the next. And now that it’s become clear that these really are the End Times, Tibet’s eschatological pronouncements have never seemed timelier.
Invocation Of Almost (8:49)
On Docetic Mountain (8:14)
26 April 2007 (5:13)
Aleph Is The Butterfly Net (5:54)
Not Because The Fox Barks (10:14)
As Real As Rainbows (5:23)