Label: Durtro (DURTRO JNANA 95)
Format: Double CD
Dogs Blood Ascending: A Remix By Andrew Liles
Limited edition Andrew Liles remix of the complete original album.
CD released with first 1000 copies of the remastered original recording.Reviews:
Written by Lee Powell
This limited 2-CD version of ‘Dogs Blood Rising’ is the sister release to the 2-CD reissue of Current 93’s debut album ‘Nature Unveiled’, sharing the same reissue format as ‘Nature…’. The first CD is a remastered version of the original and seminal Current 93 album from 1984, complete with a 12-page booklet reproducing the original sleeve notes, artwork and photos, as well as a collection of previously unpublished photos from the same period. The second CD, included with the first 1000 copies of the album, is a remix CD featuring a completely reworked version of the entire album by longtime Current 93 collaborator Andrew Liles entitled ‘Dogs Blood Ascending’ Both CDs are housed in a double CD jewel case.
Now for me, ‘Dogs Blood Rising’, the second full-length album by a then fairly new(ish) Current 93 is absolutely stunning. It has a pitch-black atmosphere that is genuinely unsettling and confrontational. It has a strong religious sentiment that can be construed in different ways, depending on the listener’s religious perspective, and it sees Tibet and co. producing a wonderfully innovative sound that is deeply complex, claustrophobic yet ridiculously compelling all at the same time. It was one of the very first Current 93 releases I heard, and it has remained one of my favourite releases by them, although it captures a very different sound to what’s come to be expected from them nowadays. It’s also a release that seemed to hit a chord with me straight away, and it inspired me to get my one and only Current 93 tattoo in homage to the band, and the wonderfully unique music and vision Tibet projects through it.
Again, as with their previous album ‘Nature Unveiled’, the musical compositions that are contained herein are breathtakingly innovative, especially considering that we’re talking about 1984 here. Their reverberations can be felt through a whole range of contemporary music, spanning not only the post-industrial and dark ambient genres, but also touching upon black metal and doom. Utilising a wonderfully heady mixture of drones, manipulated soundscapes, distant choral passages, tiny waves of noise and vocals delivered in a plethora of styles, the sound and atmosphere created is dramatically bleak, but also captivating, invigorating and immensely powerful. It’s the sort of album that is immensely gripping, with every minute detail of it perfectly executed. It emanates a pitch-black atmosphere that is awash with religious connotations and references. It’s harsh, yet inviting. Difficult, yet at times simplistic. Its nature and presence shift from element to element, as you travel the expansions of sound and dense structures that Tibet and his collaborators have produced. At times, it’s immensely difficult to penetrate, then the next second you’re lost in a swirling vortex of darkly haunting sounds and textures, deeply stimulating and containing a harrowing warmth whilst never being opening inviting.
Opening with the looped and repeated reverberated echoes and haunting distortions of ‘Christus Christus (The Shells Have Cracked)’, the album sets a compellingly dark atmosphere and tone almost instantly. You get the impression you’re about to experience something unique and tenebrous, yet have no idea just how correct your assumptions are, although all is revealed on the album’s pinnacle track, the epic ‘Falling Back In Fields Of Rape’.
With a running time of almost 15 minutes, the album’s second track, the remarkable ‘Falling Back In Fields Of Rape’ is, in my opinion, the album’s high point, and it typifies the innovative and challenging nature of the album as a whole. It also demonstrates how diverse Current 93’s sound was at the time, and how Tibet, even then, wasn’t afraid to push boundaries and blur genres with his compositions.
The track consists of thought-provoking and analytical spoken word monologues set against a background of slow drumming, warped sound manipulations and dense droned noise and soundscapes, which create a wonderfully imaginative and captivating intensity that carries you through the track’s entire length. Sharing sound and structure similarities to Crass’s fantastic political statement ‘Reality Asylum’, it demonstrates that the music and social influences that Tibet drew from at the time far outstretched the majority of other artists who inhabited this early phase of industrial/experimental music, which Current 93 found themselves an integral part of. So it comes as no great surprise to learn that Crass’s Steve Ignorant was part of this formation of C93 and appears to play an important role throughout the album and especially on ‘Falling Back…’.
The layering of sounds and aural textures over treated vocals is carried on throughout the remainder of the album with impressively stimulating results. Often alarming, uncomfortable and threatening, the atmosphere produced by the album and its lyrical content is still as upfront and demanding as it was at the time it was written. It’s aged immensely well, and the strong religious connotations and wordplay the album contains seem as poignant and relevant as they did back in 1984. This is demonstrated perfectly on the album’s second long track, the almost 14-minute ‘Rio No Terrasu (Jesus Wept)’ which sees the phrase “Jesus wept” manipulated and repeated to near nausea-inducing lengths, whilst layers of sounds, operatic-style female vocals and warped choral verses are reassembled in a jigsaw of sounds, making the track somewhat uncomfortable to endure in its entirety, but equally rewarding for those who feel they have the fortitude to work through it.
As mentioned, the original album is accompanied by the remix album ‘Dogs Blood Ascending’ by Andrew Liles. Whilst sharing a lot of similarities, as you’d expect, to the original, it’s interesting to hear a modern take and representation of the album as a whole. Again, the smallest element of sound is perfectly clear and crisp, thus ensuring that even the minutest detail plays an important and necessary part. It pays tribute to the original immensely well, whilst adding a new dimension of sound and aural texture, which project an evolving kaleidoscope of imagery, enhancing that constructed on ‘Dogs Blood Rising’.
I’ve always felt that the atmosphere, style and presence of some of the compositions that make up ‘Dogs Blood Rising’ have remaining exclusive to this release as a whole, and haven’t been utilised or reworked on subsequent Current 93 releases. As such, ‘Dogs Blood…’ is a truly unique, wonderfully distinctive album within the ample canon of releases that Tibet has produced, and is therefore, as you’d expect, an essential and intricate part of Current 93 history that needs to be re-explored and revisited time and time again. It goes without saying that this release is an essential purchase, especially if you’re able to get hold of the two-disc set. So don’t delay, track down a copy now. I guarantee you the album will go to great lengths to impress you, and impress it does. A must-have release, and a fantastic insight into the earliest embryonic stages of Current 93.
Written by Lucas Schleicher
Sunday, 27 April 2008
Released the same year as Nature Unveiled, Current 93’s second full-length record is more uneven than its predecessor and less coherent. Time has been kind to Current 93’s debut, but Dogs Blood Rising feels a little like Tibet’s leftover thoughts and ideas forced onto record. It nonetheless boasts of several outstanding moments and marks Tibet’s first obvious movement away from the trappings of the so-called industrial culture.
Everything Nature Unveiled expressed with brevity and eloquence is unnecessarily confused and extended on Dogs Blood Rising. All the familiar symbols and references to Christianity, Satan, redemption, fear, human impotency, apocalyptic trauma, and positive biblical fables are present, but without the strength of a unifying esthetic. “Christus Christus (The Shells Have Cracked)” begins well enough with looped chants, abstract and breathy tones, and a sense of direction. It is an invocation of Christianity’s dark side, a dimension characterized by death, burning, God’s terrifying judgment (who will be saved?), and humanity’s capacity for evil. “Falling Back in Fields of Rape” continues that promise of a new direction by solidifying it with a distinct meter, evenly recurring and reversed percussion loops, and a seductive chant deep in the background. Nature Unveiled was not without its structure, but at the beginning Dogs Blood Rising seems more thoughtful and coherent by virtue of its more conventional form.
Steven Ignorant’s opening lines a few minutes into the song arrive unexpectedly, breaking the song’s established vocabulary, and with his words Stapleton simultaneously increases the audio frenzy. The sequence of audio events presented in a short time is impressive. A metallic and vertiginous crash realizes the act of falling suggested in the song’s title, then there is a moment of near silence before the now familiar words “In a foreign town / In a foreign land” are delivered. Ignorant’s tone is initially narrative-like and it maintains the structure suggested by the song’s opening moments. However, his delivery is quickly made ferocious, his voice reaches a feverish pitch, and in no time at all the music becomes equally crazed. The song is then transformed and a child’s voice becomes the focal point, and then again another change occurs as a deranged and slightly forced growl makes its way into the mix, and then yet another change. This time a woman recites various cruelties to which humans are subjected while an organ slowly drones away beneath her voice. Over and over again the song mutates without warning, almost as though it were punishing the listener for expecting any kind of order. An unnecessary drum machine briefly makes an appearance before Tibet’s dry and unnerving voice enters the fray, calling to mind his performance on I Have a Special Plan for this World. Unfortunately the song attacks the listener almost too literally, inspiring frustration more than fright, sympathy, remorse, or any other emotion. What could’ve been a new direction for Tibet and Stapleton instead devolves into a less powerful version of everything presented on Nature Unveiled.
Neither “From Broken Cross, Locusts” nor “Raio No Terrasu (Jesus Wept)” improves the album much. The former is a consistent song in both tone and structure, but it quickly becomes dull. For much of the song Tibet simply repeats “Antichrist” over and over again; his voice is amplified, distorted, and extended in various ways with little more than a martial and repetitive drum-beat to accompany him. The latter is, for some reason or another, dedicated to Japanese author, playwright, poet, philosopher, essayist, nationalist, and imperialist Yukio Mishima. Perhaps Mishima’s literary and personal emphasis on the body inspired Tibet, but making any definite connection between him and the album is nearly impossible and suggests that Tibet was, at the time, juggling too many influences to make anything definite and powerful of them. Most interesting is the concluding piece, “St. Peter’s Keys All Bloody.” In a conversational tone Tibet greets darkness by way of Simon and Garfunkel’s “The Sounds of Silence.” It’s an especially interesting musical reference considering the song’s generally accepted message, which touches on the absence of love in public life and lack of communication between individuals, public or private. In any case, the song also signifies Tibet’s interest in more structured music, especially folk music. As the lyrics to “Scarborough Fair” while away beneath Tibet’s scathing delivery I’m reminded of Tibet’s synthetic sensibilities on Nature Unveiled. It’s clear to me now that while Tibet worked initially within an industrial (or at least experimental) mode, he was from the start trying to break away from it. Simon and Garfunkel were almost the complete antithesis of what was happening in London’s more underground venues in 1984, yet their influence appears on this record.
Also included in the first 1,000 copies of this reissue is a complete album remix by Andrew Liles titled Dogs Blood Ascending. It is in every way an improvement upon the original. The sudden and unappealing shifts of “Falling Back in Fields of Rape” are transformed into a unified and explosive expression of anger at the loss of innocence. The song, in its remixed form, begins with the child-like voices that populated the middle portion of the original and then proceeds to Ignorant’s spite-filled diatribe. It’s as though, by a simple rearrangement and some improved atmospherics, the entire album is given a perspective and force that it originally didn’t have. War is clearly declared on the evils of the world, the pounding of drums that were previously wimpy synthetic thuds assume a meaningful dimension that they couldn’t have had in the original, and all the musical changes that bogged down the original are given new life because of Liles’ determination to maintain some semblance of unity within the song. The percussion on “From Broken Cross, Locusts” also benefits from Liles’ careful hand. Instead of being monotonous and ineffective, they achieve a truly martial status that reminds me more precisely and fully of a fascist dread marked by the terror of marching and perfectly polished boots. Tibet’s Antichrist-chant is invigorated by various effects and benefits from being truncated slightly. The song is thus made into the whirlwind of hatred I suspect it was intended to be. “Raio No Terrasu (Jesus Wept)” is given the most radical transformation. On Dogs Blood Ascending it is a quiet, subdued piece, emphasizing the somber quality of Christ’s sacrifice. It’s a real tribute to Liles’ talent that he managed to latch onto the record’s major themes and improve upon their presentation without rendering the album completely unidentifiable. It also shows that all the necessary pieces to the puzzle were available to Tibet in the crafting of this album; they were ready to be assembled in a powerful way, but simply weren’t realized as well as they could’ve been. The remix ends with “St. Peter’s Keys All Bloody,” but this time a musical accompaniment that approximates “The Sounds of Silence’s” melody is the main feature. Tibet’s vocals appear, too, but the contrast between the toy-box melody and his pronounced groans adds a depth to the song not present in the original.
Released concurrently with the reissue of Nature Unveiled is Dogs Blood Rising another Current 93 release from 1984. Once again this reissue reverts to the original track list with the first 1000 copies coming with a remix CD by Andrew Liles. Dogs Blood Rising is by far a more abrasive recording than Nature Unveiled, making greater use of huge swathes of frequencies and drones. Many people have found it to be a powerful release but it’s one that I’ve never been completely convinced with. Some of the tracks appear to be carried over from Nature Unveiled but less thought out. Words are quite often just reduced to one or two phrases, and Steven Stapleton’s effects are less effective and much more visceral. Perhaps the use of harsh electronics is down to the involvement of John Murphy, his rhythmic efforts certainly form the basis of ‘From Broken Cross, Locusts’.
‘Christus Christus (The Shells Have Cracked)’ is awash with manipulated chanting shadowed by shrill electronic undertones. ‘From Broken Cross, Locusts’ simply comprises looped ceremonial voice, with percussive flourishes and crashing cymbals, and Tibet’s heavily distorted voice growling “anti-Christ” throughout”. ‘Raio No Terrasu (Jesus Wept)’, likewise, is stripped to constant reiterations of “Christus, Christus..”, and “anti-Christ, anti-Christ..” above a series of shrill and piercing effects, looped sound sources, before being sucked into elongated droning. Tibets’ vocals are given similar treatment to Nature Unveiled.
Dogs Blood Rising is best represented by ‘Falling Back In Fields Of Rape’ and ‘St Peter’s Keys All Bloody’, two diverse tracks that contained formative traces of motifs that Current 93 would rely heavily on through subsequent releases. ‘Falling Back In Fields Of Rape’ appeared to be a comment on the banality of evil and man’s capacity for violence: a modern apocalypse. It featured variations on the now famous lyrics “In A Foreign Land, In A Foreign Time, Reaping Time Had Come”. The track opened with chants that would be quickly enveloped by a hammering drum beat, backward processing spliced with the recurring cry of “War”. With the hurried diatribe bellowed by Steve Ignorant of CRASS – “It could not happen here” – it took on an accusatory and defiant tone, mixed with the extended lyrics that would later be edited by Douglas P. to better effect on ‘Behind The Rose (Fields of Rape)’ by Death In June. Percussion threshes manically and cuts to a child’s recital of the nursery rhyme ‘Mulberry Bush’, and then amidst spinning backwards processing a child, Ruby Wallis, intones the recurring lyrics: “In A Foreign Land, In A Foreign Time, Reaping Time Had Come…’, a distant voice gruffly recites the lyrics over a hovering drone. It cuts again to Diana Rogerson delivering a litany of atrocities, before a singing melodically over incongrous drum machine. At last Tibet takes his turn intoning the lyrics in his refined, nasally tones. Here though the words take on a religious dimension as if Tibet is conversing directly with Christ. It is a tremendously powerful track, carefully constructed and a fine example of Current 93’s nightmare sounds.
Much simpler but no less effective is ‘St Peter’s Keys All Bloody’, a sinister reading of Simon and Garfunkel’s ‘The Sound of Silence’ whispered by Tibet, juxtaposed against a male recitation of the ballad “Scarborough Fair”. Layered behind is the voice of Tibet delivering curt statements on the impermanence of life.
Although Dogs Blood Rising shares an affinity with Nature Unveiled it is a far darker, more crepuscular release and indeed possesses an aura of malevolence. It is quite a unique release amongst their work but it does however signal the introduction of children’s voices, nursery rhymes and old English folk music touchstones for later Current 93 material.
The first 1000 copies include Dogs Blood Ascending, a remixed version of the original by Andrew Liles. Liles has done a fantastic job here – remixing and reinterpreting the elements to attain a clarity and coherence absent from the original recordings. The key passages of ‘Falling Back In Fields Of Rape’ are reassembled to stunning effect, and threaded with constant droning it becomes far more cohesive than the disjointed collage of the original. Fresh tones and textures are added to the heightened percussive interplay of ‘From Broken Cross, Locusts’, and with some frantic edit cuts it becomes much more focussed and forceful. ‘Raio No Terrasu (Jesus Wept)’ is completely overhauled and rendered in subdued ominous drones with Tibet’s overlong “Christus, Christus…” words left lurking in the shadows. ‘St Peter’s Keys All Bloody’ is reduced to a toy-box melody accompanied by the recitation of ‘The Sound of Silence’ by Tibet, while the old English ballad is caught in a morass of voices. On Dogs Blood Ascending Liles has maintained the atmosphere but altered the focus significantly to create a version that is more refined and approachable but nonetheless remaining a foreboding piece of work. Dogs Blood Rising has never been a necessary purchase but with the addition of Andrew Liles beautiful remix this is well worth seeking out.