Saturday, March 10, 2012

"Hourglass for Rosy Abelisk" by Current 93 - March 10th 80's Quest Song/Band of the Day

In the late 80’s through early 90’s I was a DJ on college radio station W.U.N.H, 91.3 FM. It was during my time there that I came across Current 93’s 1988 album, Earth Covers Earth, containing this song "Hourglass for Rosy Abelisk". Apparently there are other Hourglass songs, such as Hourglass for Diana, but it was the one for Rosy Abelisk that caught my ear. It sounded like something out of a horror movie, like some weird creepy child reciting a dark invocation before all hell broke loose. I used to like to play it on my show because it was so freaky and different. I must admit however, that during the summertime when the campus was deserted, and it was dark after midnight, and I was all alone in the studio, and nearly alone in the entire Memorial Union Building where the station was housed – playing this song could send a chill up your spine and make you look over your shoulder a bit! I wonder how many listeners I scared in their own homes, or driving all alone at night in their cars!  I don’t think that I could listen to a whole album or more than one album of this stuff, but I did like pulling this album from the shelves and giving this song some play from time to time.
Current 93 is a British Experimental occult group that was formed in 1982 and is led by David Tibet (real name David Michael Bunting). Tibet had been in the bands Nurse With Wound and Psychic TV prior to founding Current 93, a collective inspired by Aleister Crowley’s dark magic and philosophies. Tibet is the one constant member of the collective. The name of the band is inspired by Crowley, as The 93rd Current is the definition of the Thelema cult (Sorry…I can’t really explain that without having to do a massive read-up on Crowley, which I have not done). Tibet’s main collaborators include Steve Stapleton of Nurse With Wound, John Balance of Coil, and Fritz Haaman of 23 Skiddoo. Nick Dave, Bjork, Andrew W.K., Tiny Tim and Soft Cell’s Mark Almond have also lent their talents to his work.
Current 93 has released over 20 albums and as far as I can tell is still going strong through 2010. The music consists of tape loops, spoken mantras and poems, experiments with voice, Gregorian chants, atmospheric and sometimes sinister industrial sounds, haunting recitations, among many other things. It is fluid, experimental, and constantly changing. This particular song is from Current 93’s late 1980’s apocalyptic folk phase, the lyrics are a recitation of an English poet, John Hall (1627 – 1656), of the Caroline Period.
There is an awful lot of conceptual thought behind Tibet’s music that you can read up on Wikipedia and someone’s very extensive knowledge of Tibet and Current 93 is chronicled at: if you are interested.


My life is measur'd by this glasse, this glass
By all those little Sands that through passe
See how they presse, see how they strive, which shall
With greatest speed speed and greatest quicknesse fall
See how they raise a little Mount, and then
With their owne weight doe levell it agen.
But then th'have all got thorough, they give o're
Their nimble sliding downe, and move no more.
Just such is man whose houres still forward run,
Being almost finsht ere they are begun,
So perfect nothings, such light blasts are we,
That ere w'are ought at all, we cease to be.
Do what we will, our hasty minutes fly,
And while we sleep what do we else but die?
How transient are our Joyes, how short their days!
They creepe on towards us, but flie away
How stinging are our sorrows! where they gaine
But the least footing there they will remaine
How groundless are our hopes, how they deceive
Our childish thoughts, and onely sorrow leave!
How real are our feares! they blast us still,
Stil rend us, still with gnawing passions fill;
How senseless are our wishes, yet how great!
With that toile we pursue them with that sweat!
Yet most times for our hurts so small we see,
Like Children crying for some mercurie,
This gapes for Marriage, yet his fickle head
Knows not what cares waite on a Marriage bed.
This woves Virginity, yet knows not what
Lonenesse, griefe, discontent, attends that state.
Desires of wealth anothers wishes hold
And yet how many have been choak'd with Gold?
This onely hunts for honour yet whop shall
Ascend the higher, shall more wretched fall.
This thirsts for knowledge, yet how is it bought?
With many a sleeplesse night and racking though?
This needs will travel, yet how dangers lay
Most secret Ambuscado's in the way?
These triumph in their Beaty, though it shall
Like a pluck't Rose or fading Little fall.
Another hoasts strong armes, alas Giants have
by silly Dwarfes been drag'd unto their grave.
These ruffle in rich silke, though ne're so gay.
A well plum'd Peacock is more gay than they.
Poore man, what art! A Tennis ball of Errour,
A ship of Glasse, toss'd in a Sea of terrour,
Issuing in blood and sorrow from the wombe,
Crauling in tears and mounting to the tombe,
How slippery are thy pathes, how sure thy fall,
How art thou Nothing when th'art most of all!

-- John Hall (1627-1656)

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