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PTV3 are her/e!!!!
on 15 June 2007
That Genesis Breyer P-Orridge spoils us, s/he really does - you wait years for a new record and then two come along in the form of Throbbing Gristle's brilliant 'Part Two - The Endless Not' and this new album from Psychic TV who are also known as PTV3. They're back, despite only one original member from previous line-ups, and this album is one that stands with their best albums, so one that deserves to be cited alongside 'Force the Hand of Chance', 'Dreams Less Sweet', 'Godstar: Thee Director's Cut' and 'Trip Reset' (though hopefully a PTV reissue programme will start at some point in the future). The new line up of Psychic TV includes pandrogyne and leader Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, his/her good lady wife and partner Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge, but a great band including Morrison Edley, Alice Genese, David Max and Markus Persson. I had the pleasure of seeing this incarnation of PTV last year in Birmingham, where they played several of these tracks alongside great cover versions of 'Foggy Notion' and 'No Good Trying', and they were fantastic. Unlike TG, PTV aren't based on a blend of four individuals and art practice, but are slightly more pop, with a dash of psychedelia - inspired by the 60s but living in the now. The best PTV records have always been ones recorded with the right musicians and producers - 'Hell is Invisible...Heaven is Her/e' is one of those records. Here's hoping they come back and play again soon...The album also has some guest musicians, including Baba Larrjii, Nick Zinner (Yeah Yeah Yeahs), Gibby Haynes (Surfers), Nick Kramer, Bryin Dall & Jonathan Toubin. Genesis has described it as a "Dark Side of the Moon for the 21st Century" - though I'm not sure Jeremy Clarkson types in wax jackets and the wrong denim will really dig this!
I've played this album several times now, after waiting an eon for it, and can happily report that it's great stuff. I was prepared for a stinker, 'cos these things can happen, but no, it's all great! Opener 'Higher and Higher' is kind of a jazz-funk great that reminds me of 'On a Rope' by Rocket from the Crypt as Genesis howls over it - like the 2004 version of 'What a Day', this is Genesis in that kind of piss-taking style of Lydon apparent since 'Persuasion USA' on Mission of Dead Souls. The old PTV are invoked on the brilliant 'In Thee Body', which opens in a style that recalls such joys as 'In the Nursery' and 'Southern Coumfort', as well as reminding me of the opening track from Mission of Dead Souls: dead dogs, wolves and all that. It's kind of a sinister glam stomp with fried guitar from the Yeah Yeah Yeah bloke.
'Lies and Then' is 21st Century punk, up there with the more recent output of Wire in their third phase, though the mellotron gives the song a trippy feel and makes me think of the equally culty Julian Cope. 'Maximum Swing' is the first track to feature Gibby Haynes, who provides backing vocals to a tribal, almost funky track - the blend of guitars from Max and Zinner is great too. Kind of a funky relative of Gibby's work with Ministry.
The recent 'Part Two' contained the gorgeous 'Almost a Kiss', a revised take on 'TG Now's 'Almost Like This' and a song that seemed poppy, albeit in a Syd Barrett way and not the 'Greasy Spoon'-style collection of avant noise you might have expected from TG. Strangely, a companion is found with the lovely 'New York Story', which is a Velvets/Spacemen 3 sounding ballad (Nick Kramer playing the omnichord in a very 'Playing with Fire' style) with the tremendous opening line, "Life is a vacuum pump/Always suckin' me dry." Imagine a collision of 'Hypnotized' and 'Street Hassle.' Things get odder on the epic 'I Don't Think So', one part of it descends into something noisier and more fractal than most of the latest TG record, recalling TG's earlier 'The Process'. Lovely...
'Hookah Chalice' has some samples worthy of 'Dreams Less Sweet', having a similar soundscape to material there, before a Stooges-style thrash comes in. I thought this was kind of Doorsy live, but in a good way! The longest track here is 'Just Because', 10mins14seconds that's like Syd Barrett fronting a band from a phase after him, sort of demented glam rock. Which has to be great? 'BB' is kind of psychedelic, with a strange almost bossanova beat - probably not what is expected; while 'Milk Baba' concludes the LP with some psyched sitar, bowing out on something that is subtle. The guitars don't sound far away from Derek Bailey or Robert Fripp, though I wouldn't be surprised if Genesis was thinking of the 'Brian Jones Presents...' LP.
So...gender modification and New York worked out well for Aunty Gen, and this phase of Psychic TV is one of its strongest. PTV are dead, long live PTV. 'Hell is Invisible...Heaven is Her/e' is a wonderful surprise, as good as a new PTV record could be expected to be. Genesis, you spoil us, you really spoil us!! A definite highlight of the year we call 2007...