The evening began on the showing of two sound immersive films, displaying a panoramic urban landscape with a sound collage, later accompanied by a soundtrack consisting of gushing, mechanical white noise which then crossed into another space of low, rumbling, oppressive frequencies.

The band’s set then opened on a symposium of chaos: the thunderous clatter of grand piano strings being struck, crunching hurdy-gurdy, drilling and screeching electronics, quivering violin, background monk choral singing and cavernous scrapes that accumulated before David Tibet came on stage to perform painful wailings against drum and cymbal bashings. The sound grew to an apocalyptic noise storm that comically gave way to Boney M’s ‘Rivers of Babylon’, which played out while mushroom clouds displayed on the visuals, then growing fainter like a residual fragment leftover after the end of the world.

Afterwards, Current 93 continued into the lullaby of ‘The Descent of Long Satan and Babylon’, with its duet of honeyed violin and classical piano and the acoustic drive of ‘This Carnival is Dead and Gone’. They also performed the rocky sway of ‘A Thousand Witches’, with Tibet’s powerfully expressed vocals and heavy kettle drum bashings. He also sang the Irish folk song of ‘Mary Waits in Silence’, performed to an Irish flute.

Guest singer June Alison Gibbons, one of ‘The Silent Twins’ with her life story the subject of a 2022 film, was then invited by Tibet on stage to perform a spoken-word narrative, ‘The Black Girl’s Blues for the White Girl’, while a short film of the twins was played out on the visuals. The steady keys of ‘In the City’ followed; the creaks of violin burnished with icy synth, with piano tumbling at the end. The band also played the contrasting songs of the floating ‘Clouds at Teatime’ and ‘The Death of the Corn’, the latter featuring tribal drums and Tibet shouting out the chorus while caught up with sirenic violin. Current 93 finished the main set on the brisk acoustic/electric guitar and dizzying violin of ‘Hourglass for Diana’.

They returned for a three-song encore, beginning on the perverted hymn of ‘Happy Birthday Pigface Christus’, with its monotonous percussive crashes. Tibet then welcomed guest backing singer Gibbons back on stage to perform ‘Oh Coal Black Smith’ with him, the song containing nursery rhyme references. They finished their almost 2-hour set on ‘Hushabye Mountain’, a score from one of Tibet’s favourite films.

24/05/24: Current 93 @ Union Chapel, London.

Photos © E. Gabriel Edvy/Blackswitch Labs.

© Ayisha Khan.