The image that persists throughout Create Christ, Sailor Boy is that of the inexorable marching army, rising over hillsides and gliding effortlessly across open fields. Like the war in which this army are engaged, the album is enveloping and unstoppable. It submits individual free will to the tide of terrible prophecy. Timpani drums boom in a bid to keep the march in time, as strings swell in a conflicted state of courage and fear of death. Every instrument surges forward because it has no other option; whirring tamburas, wailing guitars, rolling hand drums, sweeping synthesisers and cymbal wash are all swept into the currents of fate, resounding in panoramic tones of nobility and mortal sorrow. Each instrument is bound, however reluctantly, by its duty to a much greater cause.
In the midst of such a powerful and irresistible sound, the voice of David Tibet has to be at its most urgent and aggressive in order to cut through. During “Christmas With The Channellers”, his enunciation of “dogs dreeeeeeeeam” sounds like a rip through thick fabric, parting the violins and drones with an extended wretch through clenched throat and teeth. The symphonious ascension of “Your Eyes In The Skittle Hills” carries him like foam sizzling on the crest of a tidal wave, as he strains to extend beyond the highest notes of the bells and strings. As always, his words spout forth from a mind powerless to mediate them. Mental images and contemplations congeal and dissipate before I can wring out any explicit understanding, dragged out of my reach by the inexorable onward march.
Even when the record dips into soft, lethargic hallucinations (the surreal psychedelic uplift of “Sweet Sodom Singsongs”, the dusky desert mirage of “The Auras Are Escaping Into The Forest”), Tibet’s words continue to pour into the air as concertinas of delay and chants of half-song, urging the music to keep moving in spite of blistered and bleeding feet. It’s these moments that seem to penetrate the most. Those passages of weary progression guide me to contemplate the places to which we are all fatefully bound; the music doesn’t stop or slow down to fully ingest its crescendos of despair, and similarly, life persists in its unforgiving loyalty to the passage of time, dragging everything further from the places to which they may wish to return, and toward the twilight that resides at the end of it all.