Psychic TV don’t necessarily need introduction, I guess. They’ve done a lot since their formation in 1981 – for starters, Genesis P. Orridge radically broke with Throbbing Gristle’s noise attacks in order to produce more psychedelic, Kraut rock influenced sounds. “Force the Hand of Chance” and “Dreams Less Sweet” are defining albums, and since then – their debut release “Force the Hand of Chance” in 1982 – there have been around 150 official releases published. The stylistic range goes from carefully orchestrated, psychedelic works to Acid House to Industrial (d’uh!), Folk – basically whatever floated Gen’s boat—s/he happily adapted it and formed a new incarnation of Psychic TV, making it an always surprising, never predictable outfit. Various collaborators left their traces on PTV (since 2003: PTV3), like Marc Almond and Dave Ball of Soft Cell, Jhonn Balance, Monte Cazazza or Rose MacDowall – and it would take ages to create a history of Psychic TV, and that just on the music side. The Temple ov thee Psychic Youth should be included as well. I’d better cease trying to explain the phenomenon that is Psychic TV and start focusing on music – Snakes, the album to be discussed at the moment, is Psychic TV’s first release since 2008.
“Snakes” definetly mirrors the psychedelic side of Psychic TV, and the songs were already exhibited on their last tour – in full length. Thus, yes—the songs are not new to me, but still – pretty much great. From the opening “After You’re Dead, She Said”, to the 13-minute excess of “Burning Down the Old Home” (oh holy magnificence!) to the angry space-rock track “(It was) Never Enough” to the hypnotic title track “Snakes” to “Overdriven Overlord”… I am really
convinced of the greatness of that new piece, though, I must say I am slightly sad that their great Hawkwind cover “Hurry on a Sundown”, played live on their recent tour, isn’t included on “Snakes”. Anyway, that’s a real first world problem I shouldn’t complain about. But “first world” is a pretty nice transition to the next paragraph.
Since Psychic TV is way more than a band, “Snakes” has an elaborated concept, coming from Genesis Breyer P. Orridge’s recent trip to Benin, exploring the voodoo culture. Historically, the snake stood for wisdom and enlightenment before it was turned into a symbol of evil since the uprise of the Abrahamitic religions—which exactly fits into Psychic TV’s overall concept. It just makes sense that the title track is a creepy voodoo trip; a repetitive drum beat is overlaid by a preaching Gen and samples of, you guessed that correctly, snakes. “Burning Down The Old Home” evokes a psychedelic horror trip, well reminiscent to Can, Amon Düül, Hawkwind and other Space Rock/Psychedelic Rock heroes. Most notably “(It was) Never Enough” reminds me of the angry space rock excesses like Hawkwind’s “Silver Machine”, with dissonant, analogue synth undertones and aggressive riffing.
In the wake of the re-discovery of psychedelia in Post Punk-related scenes, “Snakes” is a record showing how it is done. It is not a new style for Psychic TV’s ever-changing, evolving style. Not every TG fan might be following that path Gen has taken, some do, and if you like Psychic TV’s psychedelic side, you will dig “Snakes”; also, fans of acts such as Moon Duo should take a close listen.
- After You’re Dead, She Said
- In Solitude Of Memory
- Burning Down The Old Home
- (It Was) Never Enough
- The Mountaineer
- Project! Expect!
- Overdriven Overlord