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- And When Rome Falls by Current 93
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8/10 Matt D Customer review, 19th February 2014
One of my favourite Current 93 records of all time remains ‘Live at Teatro Iberico, Lisbon’ which was bundled with limited copies of David Keenan’s book ‘England’s Hidden Reverse’. As such, it’s sadly rare as hen’s teeth, but does represents a near perfect live record where everything is at its absolute apex. The recording on that disc is superb, and the backing band is minimal yet utterly divine (Michael Cashmore, Maja Elliot, David Tibet, Antony Hegarty). Needless to say, it makes for a rather special document of C93 at their very best. Now, before you begin to think I’m out to sell you an overpriced copy of ‘Live at Teatro Iberico’, it’s worth mentioning that ‘And When Rome Falls’ bears more than a passing resemblance to the aforementioned live album. It sees the welcome return of a similarly stripped back line up, featuring only David Tibet (Voice), John Contreras (Cello) and Maja Elliott (Piano). The songs are mostly mid-period C93 favourites, mixed with a smattering of material from Black Ships. All the songs presented here sound significantly different to their album versions, and I mean that in the most complimentary sense. Maja Elliot and John Contreras create a sublime, melancholy backdrop of cascading piano and cello for Tibet’s religiously tinged apocalyptic musings. It’s all gorgeously orchestrated and the chemistry between the players is undeniable. Regardless of your opinion of Tibet, he never fails to surround himself with amazing musicians. If the recent ‘big rock band’ incarnation of Current 93 wasn’t quite to your tastes and you pine for the days of twinkling pianos and weeping strings, this may be good for what ails you. The only real let down here is the recording quality. It’s fairly clear this isn’t a desk recording. My best guess would be that this was sourced from an audience member; likely wielding one of those newfangled portable digital recorders. As such, there’s a fair bit of background noise and some audience chatter. If you’re expecting a pristine, studio treated live recording you’ll come away disappointed. However, it should be emphasised that the recording is better than most of this nature and that the fire and beauty of the performance more than make up for the lack of fidelity. If you’re a C93 fan, this is very worthy of your time. If you’re a newcomer to the band, perhaps give ‘Black Ships Ate the Sky’ a go, or the their latest offering ‘I am the Last of All the Field That Fell’.
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