Three sides of vinyl (the fourth was etched with a design) were devoured by 1988's Christ & the Pale Queens, the first Current 93 album that would be instantly recognizable to fans of David Tibet's later work. Following on from the broadening vistas that were tapped by 1987's Dawn, Christ is an album of what was then surprising melodicism; the opening "Dogun" is almost danceable (!!!) with its pulsing rhythm relentless even as the machines and sound effects grind and whoosh over it. "Forever Changing," meanwhile, is close to balladic, as Tibet speak-sings over the sparsest of piano and bass accompaniment, and while nine minutes of three repeated notes could be considered an aural obstacle course of sorts, the lyric never loses your attention. "The Ballad of the Pale Christ," too, catches Tibet in reflective mode, over a bright acoustic guitar and "la-la-la" backing vocals, but then we move into the album's centerpiece, an almost-20 minute title track that whispers sibilantly behind the ghosts of the experimental soundscapes that were once Tibet's forte. The CD adds two tracks to the original vinyl, the canting whisper of "The Red Face of God" and the spirit-whipped "The Breath and Pain of God," before wrapping up with one more mega-epic, "Mighty in Sorrow" (titled "Night" on the LP), a three-second loop that could have been sliced from the bridge to the chorus from a medieval folk song, and then left on repeat for 18 minutes. It should be boring, but left undisturbed while you get on with your life, it so blends into the background that you miss it when it's over.
Share this page
AllMusic Review by Dave Thompson