It is virtually impossible to consider neofolk music without considering the music of Current 93. The curriculum vitae of David Tibet and company is vast, beginning in the early 80s and continuing on until the present, and bears considerable influence on the neofolk genre as it stands today. 1996 saw the release of All the Pretty Little Horses, which many fans and critics hold to be one of Current 93's finest works. Being new to Current 93 (and to neofolk music in general), I am hardly qualified to make that judgment, but I can say with some certainty that it is one the best albums I've heard in some time.
Atmosphere abounds on All the Pretty Little Horses, as does modal variety. Throughout, a sense of melancholy and sadness is palpable--fittingly, considering the album deals with matters such as death and loss--though the music is never self-indulgently evil or depressive. Indeed, there are some moments when music seems almost happy, such as on "The Blood Bells Chime". On the other hand, moments which seem almost bitter ("The Carnival is Dead and Gone" being a prime example of this). Yet none of this seems out of place, and the seemingly dissonant elements found here come together quite effectively.
Clocking in at just under an hour, All the Pretty Little Horses is something of a protracted affair, and it has to be said that there are some moments where the music seems to drag on a bit longer than might be necessary. The back-to-back songs "Twilight, Twilight, Nihil, Nihil" and "The Inmost Light Itself" feel particularly interminable (not coincidentally, these are the two longest tracks on the album). The lowlights are vastly outnumbered by the highlights, however.
By and large, All the Pretty Little Horses is an engaging and moving listen. I would recommend "All the Pretty Little Horses", "The Blood Bells Chime" and "The Frolic" as particularly good tracks.