May 18, 2012

26. Force the Hand of Chance - Psychic TV [1982]

Suffusing dread, ritual, drama and tenderness to coalesce themed meditations on nature of being and Will.

Not, then, hit parade material, steeped as it be in Crowley's Ordo Templi Orientis reorganised around the Law of Thelema: Do what thou wilt shall be the whole of the Law / Love is the law, love under will. Often misinterpreted as carte blanche for all kinds of psycho-sexual carry-on and to indulge emotional impulses, however transgressive. A subtler reading is about seeking out and following one's own True Will rather than the ego's desires - thereby, if you will, forcing the hand of chance.

Music ideologically freighted at the expense of the thrills? Not so. Assisted by the more than able Fergusson and Christopherson, Genesis P-Orridge conjures a  collection of powerful soundscapes and some oddly captivating "pop". Agit-prop ontological soundtrack....and arguably PTV's most fully realised work.

GP-O confounds expectations from the get go. A pastoral, string-driven melody to baby daughter, Just Drifting (for Caresse) flows pleasantly like the country streams and rural breezes it eulogizes. Tender and sincere yet of a thematic piece: the child's pre-verbal state of being, drifting, following it's own will and under a "simple love".

It can't last of course. Things quickly get as dark as the devil's nutting bag. Terminus X-tul, 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 strang ups the drama and cheekily references the time-stetching opening scene of Leone's Once Upon a Time in the West. 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 shade of Old Bill Lee hovers in Western Lands. A crisis is upon the lad - cue demonic howl of heavily distorted guitar. Time slows, a mystery is arrived at, a secret coda fulfilled.
Leavening the gloom, 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", we seem to be talking about the oblivion of smack by way of light relief.

And so the album unfolds. Central themes unfurling like a sickly rose; moments of light made pungent by pervasive dark. Marc crops up again on Guiltless, exhorting us - with, it must be said, more than a soupçon of lascivity -   to "see it and go for it". Do what thou wilt.

Sex magick and Genet (Querelle / Queer Hell) combine in New Order-ish dance number Ov Power. In the parlance of Thee Temple ov Psychick Youth, Ov = comingled 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.
An unsettling doubling effect is discernable by the closely listening ear; uneasy.

Counterpoint to Terminus X-tul is 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 threatening force, surrounding us, and from which there is no escape.

Oddi wrth y brawd

[Bonus Themes in Comments]


Y Brawd said...


Bonus: Themes

MoonRisk7 said...

OK; seriously, man> Are you really going to close up shop in under 30 days? I ask this because I have recently discovered your blog, and I have found it to be of limitless knowledge and enjoyment. As a fan of all things TG/PTV/G. P-O, your comments on "Force The Hand Of Chance" impart a sensitivity and intelligence toward the contents that is exceptional (regardless of whether you composed it or cribbed it, you have placed it HERE to be absorbed; it is the act itself) Should you really depart, your absence will be lamented!
Cheers, Bro!

Y Brawd said...

Thanks for your comment MR7, and yes the shutters are coming down....and while there's nowt wrong with cribbing, no, this post is y brawd composition - indulge a fellow in a little vanity posting in these final days.

MoonRisk7 said...

I feel you, and any vanity is most justified!

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This Jersey music fiend loves this blog...thanks!!

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