Hypnopazūzu - Create Christ, Sailor BoyYou'd think after years working alongside Jaz Coleman in Killing Joke Youth would have had his fill of end times and apocalypse but as Hypnopazūzu he's hooked up with David Tibet of Current 93, who has made a career out of ruminating on these themes. This isn't the first time the duo have worked together. Many moons ago Youth played bass on Current 93's debut album Nature Unveiled, alongside the late John Murphy, Annie Anxiety and members of Nurse With Wound. Both artists have expressed more than a passing interest in mythology, philosophy and pagan cultures, with Tibet creating his own personal cosmos, most recently obsessing on Coptic and Akadian studies, whilst furthering his abiding preoccupation with apocalypse and the suffering of Christ.
I really didn't know what to expect from this collaboration as Hypnopazūzu. As Current 93 David Tibet has birthed a singular and increasingly unfathomable worldview given voice through a vast and vastly divergent discography. Outside of Killing Joke, Youth was a key figure in the early work of The Orb before forging a career as a go-to producer for everyone from The Verve to Crowded House, as well as being one half of The Fireman, alongside Paul McCartney. Earlier this year his Dub Trees collective - featuring Jah Wobble - released Celtic Vedic, a musical odyssey entwining Celtic and Vedic cultures with their Northern Indian roots.
Create Christ, Sailor Boy doesn't really sound like any of these projects of Youth. Instead on Create Christ, Sailor Boy Youth embellishes Tibet's words, with arrangements that are simultaneously subdued and dramatic, intense and, at times, almost invisible. Yet they carry a huge emotional pull and when matched by Tibet's vision and voice the result is sublime. Tibet, not one shy for the dramatic delivery, is pushed to new heights; his highly distinctive tones carrying that peculiar Englishness, he shares with other outsiders such as John Lydon, Edward Ka-Spel and Genesis P-Orridge. His visions are as playful and frightening as ever skipping between hallucinatory images of moons and teeth and poetic descriptions of nature and wildlife in all its forms all shaped by his personal mythology. While Tibet looks deep within to summon his vocals, Youth's arrangements and composition are based on analogue and electronic instruments and orchestration, creating dreamscapes and a nightmare culture out of psychedelia, drone and symphonics.
Create Christ, Sailor Boy creates a unique backdrop to Tibet's incantations and channelling, but the opening track 'Your Eyes In The Skittle Hills', with its church organ like drone summons the melancholic air of Current 93's Island, an album recorded with acclaimed and award-winning Icelandic soundtrack composer Hilmar Örn Hilmarsson. Here Tibet's shrill wail enunciates carefully over the solemn keys and organ drone. It's majestically serene and a wonderful introduction to Hypnopazūzu and a work that features some of, what I consider, Tibet's best vocal performances in quite some time.
Just listen to his slow enunciated wails on 'Christmas With The Channellers' expressed over ominous downbeat synths, sparse pummels and melodic strings. Tibet is on form here, wrestling with visions of dark dogs, black jets and cats, stretching his voice to fit the arrangements, which begins like a sinister end-time dirge but slowly slips into something more celestial and orchestral. "You groovy girls with Teeth, Cursed with Bloods Moons and NeckLaces" he cries falling back into menstrual nights, as the synths rise once more, furthering the commanding sense of tension.
Psychedelic drones and tones offer a backdrop to the multi-layered chant of "Your palace and tomb" that open 'The Crow At Play'. Ringing drones, cyclical guitar strum and quickening hand drums, drawing on Youth's musical odysseys, shroud the exasperated rasp and exultations of Tibet, intensified by dramatic sweeps of strings, as he once again paraphrases Paul Simon in the lyrics "93 ways to kill your lover" uttering call outs to Cat Stevens and the now unutterable outcast Gary Glitter, against a slow build up of synths, strings and drums.
Youth's bass, absent from the earlier tracks, comes to the fore on 'Sweet Sodom Singsongs' amidst the psych drone and eastern drums. It's a brooding psych fest with noodling eastern bass lines bolstering Tibet's pensive sing-speak as he admits to his "confusing mythologies" before the annoyingly titled 'Pinocchio's Handjob' which seems to be an erotic updating of his old drug-addled infatuation with Noddy. Wrapped in references to Aššur, Dagon and Golgotha, 'Pinocchio's Handjob' is a brooding piece of electronics pulled onwards by widescreen symphonics. The title is not the only playful reference to sex here, but when compared to the playful couplet "Better to kiss PussyWillow, With your DragonFly hard on" from 'Sweet Sodom Singsongs', the title come across as cheap and crass. Elsewhere 'Christmas With The Channellers' talks of a skywards protruding "glans muscle"; while his prick is coloured "green blue" on 'The Crow At Play' and that's without trying to find a meaning to the cry of "It's ToolTime!!!" that appears on 'Sweet Sodom Singsongs'.
But these sexualised references take a backseat to his poetic and evocative words elaborating on his own obsessions and studies to the point that the enchantingly titled 'The Auras Are Escaping Into The Forest' is chanted in an ancient tongue. Awash with soft bass tones and oscillating synths, augmented by bells and chimes, it's like a timeslip back to an Egyptian interzone, as Tibet, extending on his latest studies, intones words that seem based on the earliest writings systems and maybe the cuneiform script.
While it's possible to map 'The Auras Are Escaping Into The Forest', other tracks voyage into imaginary dreamspaces. The lullabyesque 'Incidentally, Shaitan' unfurls to martial drums and flourishes of bells and chimes, with Tibet's tonal inflections distant and delivered with a childlike innocence while 'The Sex Of Stars' is a celestial dreamy, dreamscape where guitar notes shadow Tibet's wild-eyed ruminations, over a wavering guitar howl punctuated by percussive shakes, culminating in the repeated pained refrain "will I ever see you again".
Create Christ, Sailor Boy even opens up space to revisit some of Current 93's past on 'Magog At The Maypole' where over slow percolating electronics and string shifts, it cuts to lyrical passages with Tibet proclaiming "Neither coming nor going...", paraphrasing 'A Sadness Song' from Thunder Perfect Mind, rounding it off with proclamations of "Was/Is/Shall Be" echoing excerpted lyrics from 'Happy Birthday Pigface Christus'. Flitting between pensive tones and ardent proclamations, Tibet sounds fired up and, even though it's not intentional, it acts as a wonderful bridge back to some of Current 93 earlier songs.
The solemn symphonic workings of 'Night Shout, Bird Tongue', closes this stunning collaboration reprising lyrics from 'Magog At The Maypole' with a title partly remembered from 'Pinocchio's Handjob'. Tibet seems at peace here calmly intoning as (blood) bells chime and strings swell into a crescendo with drum rolls and electronics rising into an apocalyptic light.
On Create Christ, Sailor Boy Youth shuns the mellowness and chill-out sound that characterise many of his projects, and in its place he has sculpted a beguilingly ornate and carefully crafted sound incorporating symphonic strings, only permitting his own presence to be stamped on the eastern psychedelics and drone filled vistas. Tibet is such a singular presence, with such a strong and defined vision perhaps it's not surprising that this sounds like another facet of Current 93. Tibet has stressed that: "There is no difference in terms of the ideas and the dreams and the spheres I used in this album and in this project to anything I have done with any of my other faces. They are all the same face, all 93 of them!". This is by far the best release I've heard from Tibet in a long time. There's a freshness and vitality that really comes over in his vocal performances. Current 93 fans - new and old - will adore this, but I do wonder what those who follow Youth's work will make of it. But for me, this is a great album and a stunning collaboration.Create Christ, Sailor Boy is available on CD and double vinyl in various colours and formats (naturally) on House of Mythology. For more information go to House of Mythology