Current 93 in Moscow

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Tomorrow’s Moscow Times includes an announcement and an intelligent article about an immminent concert by Current 93.

Awaiting Judgment Day

Current 93, an “apocalyptic folk” band from Britain, plays two concerts at Ikra this weekend.

By Kirill Galetski
Published: September 22, 2006

Current 93, a British band that blends electronic experimentation with acoustic guitar and explores spiritual and mystical themes, makes its Russian debut this weekend with two concerts at Ikra.

The driving force behind Current 93 is David Tibet (born David Michael Bunting), who founded the group in 1982. The 46-year-old singer and instrumentalist is the band’s only constant member; he received his moniker from Genesis P-Orridge, of the band Psychic TV, for his one-time obsession with Tibetan culture. The group’s name comes from “93 Current,” a term used by British occultist Aleister Crowley.

Many experimental acts are not “bands” in the traditional sense, so they do not have a constant line-up, and Current 93 is no exception. Its wider circle of associates has included, at one time or another, such recognizable figures as Marc Almond, Bjork and Nick Cave, as well as underground legends like John Balance of Coil. More regular collaborators include Stephen Stapleton, of Nurse With Wound, Michael Cashmore, of Nature and Organisation, and Douglas Pearce, of Death in June.

This weekend’s concerts at Ikra feature two other acts: Clodagh Simonds of the Irish experimental band Fovea Hex on Saturday and Six Organs of Admittance, the main musical project of U.S. guitarist Ben Chasny, on Sunday.

Tibet himself is a multifaceted personality. Besides playing with Current 93, he owns the Durtro record label and publishing house, and his interests range from music to literature to religion. He also has a longtime interest in Russian culture, and in a recent e-mail, he said he wished he could have come to Russia sooner.

“I have always wanted to come to Russia but the number of people in C93 makes it very expensive, and the fact that nearly all the group are also involved in their own projects is also a hindrance,” Tibet said.

After studying various schools of Eastern thought, Tibet is now an avowed Christian. He said he had long admired the Christian tradition of Russian literature, citing such writers and thinkers as Fyodor Dostoevsky, Leo Tolstoy, Vladimir Solovyov and Nikolai Gogol, as well the Orthodox text “The Way of the Pilgrim.”

Tibet’s musical influences are wildly diverse. They range from psychedelic rock band Blue Еyster Cult to folk acts like Shirley Collins and the Incredible String Band to pianist Kaikhosru Shapurji Sorabji. Current 93’s sound varies depending on the mix of collaborators, but it has generally included harsh-sounding tape loops, synthesized sounds, drones of various kinds, religious chanting and Tibet’s own idiosyncratic singing and guitar playing. Over the years, the presence of the latter has grown, mellowing out the group’s sound. This, along with Tibet’s exploration of the Apocalypse in his lyrics, have earned the band the label “apocalyptic folk.”

Tibet, however, said he dislikes folk music and resists being grouped with it. “I invented the phrase ‘apocalyptic folk’ but it was meant as a pun,” he said. “Current 93 are apocalyptic, and are just folk, in the American sense of just ‘guys.'”

Looking back, Tibet said that his music hadn’t changed over the years, except his lyrics had become more personal. “It has always been an obsessive quest for my own salvation, built around a hallucinatory flow of words and a simple, spacious and repetitive, hypnotic sound,” he said. “Often people hear an acoustic guitar and think ‘folk.’ But I started using acoustic guitars in 1985, when people laughed and said it sounded like children’s nursery rhymes and Simon & Garfunkel sung by madmen. I thought that was perfect! I just like what moves me and what is truthful.”

Current 93 plays Sat. at 10 p.m. and Sun. at 8 p.m. at Ikra, located at 8A Ulitsa Kazakova. Metro Kurskaya. 262-4482.

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