Hypnopazūzu is a collaboration between David Tibet (Current 93, Myrninerest) and Youth, once bassist with Killing Joke, lately producing and collaborating with an array of artists, from Alien Sex Fiend to Paul McCartney, with whom Youth records as The Fireman.
The remarkable run of C93 albums following Black Ships Ate the Sky (2006) reflect the increasingly fervid intensity of Tibet’s hallucinatory mythopoeia – a fever that broke on the lovely “Jhonn,” Uttered Babylon, his 2012 Myrninerest collaboration with guitarist/composer James Blackshaw. On that album, it was Blackshaw who created the musical setting for Tibet’s channelling of “haunted dreams” and memories of John Balance, the recently deceased co-founder of Coil.
One part of Myrninerest’s success was that Blackshaw’s music required Tibet into an accommodation, to focus on those aspects of his rather solipsistic C93 persona that touch on the universal. Though Tibet’s art remained visionary and very individual (he even used his given name, David Michael).
Youth hasn’t been as close to Tibet as Blackshaw became in the run up to Myrninerest, so Hypnopazūzu takes that stepping outside of the C93 cosmos one step further. Where Blackshaw was a willing conduit for Tibet’s ‘channellings’, Create Christ, Sailor Boy (House of Mythology) is a more even partnership, a parity signalled by Youth and Tibet each offering alternative album edition artworks (the reversible CD insert has both – I’ve used Tibet’s).
As Tibet recalls, the duo met “in the very early ’80s. … I asked Youth to play bass on the first C93 album, Nature Unveiled, which he did. Then we probably didn’t have any contact for around 25 years.”
Of the new album, he says: “There was no plan—it was spontaneously channelled by both of us.” But Youth says: “The magical side of that first C93 album was difficult for me—seven years bad luck! But having reconnected with David…I become aware of his great canon of work, …so I was inspired and keen to work with him again, and had a specific sound in mind.
“The main instruments are Moog synth and my Vox Repeater vintage guitar as well as many acoustic elements and some digital elements. … I’ve composed, played and engineered pretty much all of it” (engineer Michael Randall also get credits for Moog, piano and programming). “I wanted something analogue, psychedelic and authentic, (for) the music to be invisible so you only hear the stories.”
Thankfully, he fails on that last point. Youth’s conception is far less subservient to Tibet’s as to McCartney’s in The Fireman, with the bare palate of dominant synths, guitar, percussion and electronics creating sweeping, dramatically orchestral settings for Tibet’s visions.
The album’s most rhythmic piece, “Sweet Sodom Singsongs”, could be an elaboration of Jah Wobble’s urban-mystic aesthetic, but the dominant vibe is, unmistakably, by sheer force of personality, Tibet’s. When he talks of “channelling” rather than mere performance, don’t write that off as extravagance – it’s all too credible.
Both the compound group name and Tibet’s lyrics draw on his fascination with states of consciousness, mythology and esoteric languages. There’s a strong stream of consciousness vibe to these texts: witness “Crutch kids from underneath / Under hills with skin / Covered carved rose / Bracketed melted crux / Crutch kicks from under me,” from the stately “Christmas with the Channellers” (that C word again). But there are also frequent stabs of humour, as in the same piece: “Hurtle away / You groovy girls with teeth”.
Perhaps such LOLs are unintentional. As there’s nothing but sincerity in Tibet’s delivery I doubt it, but it would be crass to laugh other than in sympathy and joy, because Create Christ, Sailor Boy is an uplifting, transporting experience.
David Tibet vocals; Youth Moog synth, Vox Repeater guitar, strings, percussion, bass guitar; Michael Rendall Moog, piano/programming.
Cyclobe, Myrninerest, and Derek Jarman Films at Meltdown 2012.
Laniakea – A Pot of Powdered Nettles.
The Stargazer’s Assistant – Remoteness of Light.
David Toop – Entities Inertias Faint Beings.
Buy Create Christ, Sailor Boy direct from House of Mythology.