Psychic TV-Pagan Day

November 29, 2008

Psychic TV

Pagan Day (1986, reissued by Cleopatra in 1994)

Psychic TV may be one of the most hit or miss groups that I actually love. There is so much disappointment to be found for someone interested in exploring their discography. However, their high points are so fucking brilliant that I easily excuse them for their more indulgent forays. Dreams Less Sweet, Force thee Hand of Chance, Allegory and Self and Pagan Day are the highlights of their work. There is something about these four albums that seems truly sinister and damaged while retaining a gentle beauty lacking from many of their peers. Maybe it is Genesis P-Orridge’s love of English folk and psych that lends their bleak worldview such bucolic warmth, but somehow you can see the humanity underneath the ugliness on these releases.

Dreams Less Sweet may be a better album, but Pagan Day is the one that always blows my boo-boo loose. I first encountered it a few years back and listened to it while wandering some anonymous department store and the album made me feel so alienated from those around me. Although it was originally released as some limited edition picture disc, it may be the pinnacle of their career. There is so much going on here as psychedelia, industrial chatter, folk, misanthropy and inappropriately funky basslines collide in an alien manner. Plus, their is a great cover of Pearls Before Swine’s “Translucent Carriages:” where Genesis’ artless vocals suit the song better than the original.

Personally, I find Pagan Day to be the best entryway to the world of Psychic TV since it alternately fried and delicate and accomodates all of the influences that shaped the 80s version of the band. Therefore, if you’ve been burned by picking up one of the duds as your first exposure to Psychic TV, then download this and work your way through the other three. If you like those, then maybe it is time to work your way through a maddenlingly inconsistent and vast discography that rewards more than it frustrates.


Pish in Your Sleazebag (Blast First 1991)

I posted their album Five Fingers, Four Thingers, etc. this week, but this release is entirely a horse of a different color. Yes, they still possess the ability to blast beat their way through chaotic punk songs, but the band have embraced a more chaotic path, but one where oddball samples, electronic fuckery, relatively quiet passages and industrial meanderings/tape loops ala Severed Heads enter the fray. Now, this isn’t to say that they have transformed into a bleak, noisy offshoot of Throbbing Gristle or the Kronos Quartet, but they have expanded their musical worldview.

This album makes you wonder why I ever associated them with The Ex and Dog Faced Hermans because Pish in Your Sleazebag alternates between testosterone-fueled anthems that wouldn’t sound out of place on Amphetamine Reptile, jagged Gang of Four fiascos and oddball smooth jazz interludes that sound like bad Ninja Tune outtakes. Overall, it rages non-stop and their vocalist jabbers like madman throughout, but the experimental touches point towards a more interesting future cut short by their dissolution.