September 11, 2010

Force the Hand of Chance - Psychic TV

PTV's first 1982 release suffuses dread, ritual, drama and tenderness to coalesce themes meditating on being and the nature of Will. It is steeped in Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis which he reorganised around the Law of Thelema: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law, and Love is the law, love under will. Often interpreted straighforwardly as carte blanche to indulge all psycho-sexual and emotional impulses however transgressive, a subtler reading is lost: seeking out and following one's own True Will rather than the ego's desires.

Perhaps this sounds like music ideologically freighted at the expense of the music itself. Not so. Assisted by the more than able Fergusson and Christopherson, Genesis P-Orridge turns in a  collection of powerful soundscapes and some oddly captivating "pop". Stunning soundtrack to an unfolding message. Maybe, PTV's best.

GP-O confounds expectations from the get go. A pastoral, string-driven melody to his baby daughter, Just Drifting (for Caresse) flows pleasantly like the country streams and breezes it conjures up. Tender and sincere as this is, it remains nonetheless of a thematic piece. A child's pre-verbal state of just being, drifting, following it's own will and possessing a "simple love".

It can't last of course. Things quickly get very dark indeed. Terminus X-tul is a deeply unsettling account of a young man journeying toward initiation, derailed by a - fantasy or actual - suicide  jump from a railway bridge into a passing train. Morricone twang and doom heighten the drama and references the time-stetching opening scene of Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. This is carried forward in the first lines of spoken lyric: 
Quiet and hooded, his eyes stared out, small hands make patterns on the window.
Body shifting on wood, dog outside the door, flickering memories as trains manoeuvre in the old men's eyes.
Forever part of a sleeping world, waiting for him to come.
Lost dreams of childhood forgotten like hope.
These lives are stones made for cemeteries.
This time the victim is desired, like misery.

He stepped down from the train, dust on road and clothes.
Across the way a boy was grinning, hard-on obvious in torn grey trousers inherited from an earlier victim of the white horse.
The ghost of Old Bill Lee hovers in these Western Lands. A crisis is upon the boy, turmoil and the demonic howl of heavily distorted guitar. Time slows, a mystery is arrived at, a secret coda fulfilled.
If ever darkness needed leavening it's now. On cue, in swoons Marc Almond like the winsome nephew of Macbeth's Porter, offering Stolen Kisses and Doug Yule VU bubble-gum pop: though as "dark suns of sunlight flower"  this seems as much about the temporary oblivion of smack as light relief.

And so the album unfolds. Central themes unfurling and moments of light made sweeter by the imminent dark. Marc crops up again on Guiltless exhorting us to "see it and go for it". Do what thou wilt. Sex magick and Jean Genet combine in New Order-ish dance number Ov Power. In the parlance of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, Ov being male-female sexual fluids. Shouty chanting validates the bestial in us all.

Message from Thee Temple dogmatically lays out the Law of Thelema, delivered by a vaguely creepy if authoritatively warm voice (think Jeremy Irons in Dead Ringers). A re-statement of Crowley's road map for discovering one’s True Will:
The temple strives to end personal laziness and engender discipline.
To focus the Will on one's true desires in the belief, gathered from experience, that this maximises and makes happen all those things one wants in every area of life.

Explore daily your deepest desires, fantasies -
Gradually focusing on what you would really like to happen in a perfect world,
Picking away all restrictions and practical considerations.
A strange doubling effect is discernable by the close listening ear, heightening awareness and sense of unease.

The counterpoint to Terminus X-tul is the jackal snarling Thee Full Pack (for Bachir Attar). Equally cinematic in feel, this time evoking the disorientation and lurking fear that stalks Max Von Sydow through the souk at the beginning of The Exorcist. O.T.O., ceremony and fraternal bonding through ritual is captured in the name check for Bachir Attar, leader of The Master Musicians of Jajouka. The song invokes a great force, which is threatening, surrounds us, and from which there is no escape.

By virtue of strength of vision realised and by the unrelenting focus on the TOPY liberation quest, this is one of the handful of absolutely essential PTV albums.

This is the place where all roads meet, the place where all is the secret.
The place where time stands still in the comfort of night and love becomes will
in the presence of light.
I never want to leave.
I never want to leave.
I never want to leave.

Oddi wrth y brawd
place of dead roads


Pastaman Vibration (ye-ah!) said...

Is this the one with the helicopter noises and the toxic whiff of Walker Road carpet or am I getting my hopes up here? Time to point click and find out, I guess.

* * e d o * * said...

RAD. I don't have this one. thanks!

Y Brawd said...

Hey PV-Y!

It is the very same. Doubly weird how y brawd too remembered helicopter noises. There aint any but something similar. Must go back to the same collective - if good-natured - piss ripping that happened down Walker Rd when Mr G gave this one a spin. Clearly too much for an insular group of S Wales dopers who thought they were being groovy by being hip to the first Bunnymen album. Fair play to DG, he was well ahead of the curve on this one.

Y Brawd said...

Hey Edo!

Then you are in for a treat. Thanks to you too for the Godstar Director's Cut I took from KYC.

Nic said...

Diolch am hyn, never heard it before. My knowledge of PTV is more or limited to Dreams Less Sweet and the Godstar 7".

Y Brawd said...

DLS also v. good. I think this is even better.

chocoa said...

nice blog/job weird bro-
Just a few notes about this post...
This is a later cd reversion with the original 8 tracks split up into 10 plus a couple of extra tracks; among them (Thee full pack) from the second lp record that came with "Dreams less sweet".
The original "Force the hand of chance" came with its own second LP record of 8 "Psychick TV Themes"
Plus a beautiful poster of the Gen and peter (SIGH) dressed as priests- burning some natural matter. . .and a PTV TV test card.
My favorite PTV record is "Those who do not"


Y Brawd said...

Thanks Chocoa. Not heard Those Who Do Not. Will investigate.

Anonymous said...

Technically, this is their second release. Their first was, appropriately, the DVD set 'First Transmission.'

Annoyingly, there's only one decent-sounding edition (the Japanese 2CD set on WEA) but it's long OOP and Genesis gets angry if anyone has a copy, as all the money from it was sent to Stevo and not him.

The Cleopatra version is slightly remixed and has (anachronstic) bonus tracks, but it sounds dreadful and has bad alternate cover art, The Some Bizarre CDs both sound even worse. This needs to be remastered and reissued properly STAT.

Anonymous said...

That should, of course read "VHS" (*) set. My bad.

(*) if there was a betamax release, I never across a copy.

Daniel said...

Thanks for this...Psychic Tv are playing tonight here in Austin,Texas...I only have unclean...gonna go check the show out.