Psychic TV - Force the Hand of Chance

by Joseph Majsterski Rating:7 Release Date:2016-08-18

Genesis Breyer P-Orridge is one of a kind. S/he has never been bound by conventional norms of behavior, but instead has been willing to do or try just about anything that strikes h/er fancy. This includes a wide swath of musical experimentation, but also things like getting matching plastic surgery, including breast implants, with the intention of becoming identical to h/er late partner Jacqueline Breyer.

So it's no surprise that this Psychic TV album, the first released by the group after former Throbbing Gristle members P-Orridge and Peter Christopherson joined forces, features a broad range of styles, some resembling the harshness of Throbbing Gristle's work, others spinning off into decidedly straightforward presentations, but all having at least a bit of the general oddness P-Orridge expresses through everything s/he does. There's a curious sincerity to many of the pieces, with no hint of cynicism or irony. I think that's really the triumph of P-Orridge's work: while s/he does obviously go against the grain of pop culture, it's not requisite for everything produced. It's just a handy way to reach goals. Sometimes those goals can be reached in other ways.

Opener 'Just Drifting (For Caresse)' is a great example of this, sounding very much like Lou Reed's 'Perfect Day', except with soaring string to accompany the simple folk guitar, and it's followed up later by the even purer strings of 'Caresse'. So too, 'Stolen Kisses' is a simple love song with only the barest hint of something darker, papered over nicely by a chorus featuring the words "ba ba ba-ba".

Of course, it's not all puppies and rainbows. 'Guitless' goes much more in the direction of Throbbing Gristle's more rambling, meandering work, with P-Orridge shouting over a menagerie of sounds from standard musical instruments and god knows what else. And 'No Go Go' is somewhere between a dusty country road and KMFDM's 'Mating Sounds of Helicopters'. 'Terminus-Xtul' is somewhere in the same neighborhood, one of P-Orridge's trademark spoken word pieces, set to countrified wild west instrumentation, all jangly guitars and gunsmoke. 'Ov Power (Radio Promo Mix)' is something like a cracked indsutrial funk tune, reminiscent of some of the odds and ends flowing out of the Wax Trax! Chicago scene in the late 80s, or more likely, inspiring them.

The album closes with 'Message from thee Temple', which is essentially P-Orridge's Temple ov Psychick Youth manifesto, the weird semi-cult he founded in the early 80s. The instrumentation is more strings and some skittering beats, but here the words are really the centerpiece of the song. It begins, 'Thee Temple strives to end personal laziness and engender discipline. To focus thee Will on one's true desires, in thee belief, gathered from experience that this maximises and makes happen all those things that one wants in every area ov life.' It proceeds in something of a motivational speaker style, but with a definite baphometic 'love is the law' vibe.

Looking at this in the context of its time, way back in 1982, it's clearly avant garde stuff that set the stage for much of what experimental music provided us over the ensuing decades. And it's a far cry from what Psychic TV later became, essentially an ambient house outfit. It's utterly unbound by genre or any sense that there need be any homogeneity to the set, with jarring switches between love songs and philosophic think pieces. And it works on its own terms, for those comfortable with the eclectic mishmash of styles and sounds.

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