Current 93 - Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain
Psychedelic Rock/Metal
8 songs (54:40)
Release year: 2009
Current 93
Reviewed by James

It's official, ladies and gentlemen. David Tibet has gone metal, more or less. The Current 93 mastermind has expressed admiration for the likes of Meshuggah and Nile in interviews, yet it's still somewhat surprising just how heavy Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain. From beginning to end, the record resounds with a deep, stonerish roar of a guitar sound that fits Tibet's apocalyptic ramblings perfectly. As with predecessor Black Ships Ate The Sky, the lyrics of Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain are variations on a theme, and this time Tibet's less penetrable than ever. Frankly, I haven't even tried to decipher what he's on about, although it still gives off that demented preacherman vibe he's been doing for years.

The guests once again are a noteworthy bunch, and although their presence is more low key than on Black Ships Ate The Sky they still warrant a paragraph in their own right. This time out Current 93 includes not just usual Tibet collaborators Steven Stapleton (he of Nurse With Wound) Michael Cashmore, and Baby Dee, but some more unusual suspects. Bass duties are provided by none other than a certain Andrew Wilkes-Krier, known to the general public as frat-rocker and party animal Andrew W.K., and whatever you think of his relentless party metal stomp his swampy, distorted playing certainly adds a lot here. Of course, the person who's gathered this album more column inches than anyone else is Sasha Grey (Google her, assuming there's no one else about) who, despite being listed as a fully-fledged band member doesn't do much apart from the odd spoken word vocal. Still, it's certainly interesting to see someone in her line of work teamed up with the devoutly Christian David Tibet, and I'm sure the story of how they became acquainted is a fascinating one.

But while on paper at least, Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain is a fantastic album, it's flawed, and not really in the oddly charming way Black Ships Ate The Sky was. David Tibet tends to be at his best when he's at his most melodic, and this time out his vocals are pretty much full-on ranting throughout. This, coupled with the medieval, folky guitars being replaced with harsh, slashing guitar makes Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain a decidedly exhausting listen at times. As I said in my review of Black Ships Ate The Sky, Tibet's voice has an oddly fatiguing quality to it, and this time around he's much higher in the mix (although the album as a whole is much louder, anyway). The increased focus on Tibet's voice and lyrics (although that's been at the forefront of Current 93 for years) makes Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain a difficult listen, which in the right mood will totally wipe you out.

But there's still good stuff in the album, and perhaps the new sound gives those brief moments of melody extra impact. The opening of 27 April 2007 is fantastic, sounding like Tool playing post-rock, Andrew W.K's wandering basslines adding an extra dimension to the track. Indeed, the album's at its best when most subdued, the discordant blues-rock of Aleph Is The Butterfly Net conjuring up a dusty desert of sound.

Aleph At Hallucinatory Mountain is too swampy and difficult to make everyday listening, but in the right mood it's as good a stoner rock album as anything you're likely to hear this year. That's right, stoner rock, as far removed as it may be from the likes of Kyuss, it still shares that same acid-fried atmosphere. This album may well be the birth pangs of a new era for Current 93, and I for one can't wait to see where Tibet goes with it.

Killing Songs :
Invocation Of Almost, 27 April 2007, Aleph Is The Butterfly Net
James quoted 77 / 100
Other albums by Current 93 that we have reviewed:
Current 93 - Black Ships Ate The Sky reviewed by James and quoted 90 / 100
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