w/Black Atmosphere, the Liquefied
Sat Nov 6, Chop Suey, 9 pm, $15 adv.
Genesis Breyer P-Orridge's not the man he used to be. The 54-year-old ex-pat Brit/Brooklyn denizen, along with his partner/Psychic TV bandmate Lady Jaye, has been modifying his body as part of a performance-art project called Breaking Sex: Pandrogyne. Striving to fuse their beings into one, they now have identical two-tone haircuts, matching breast implants, and faces that have been altered to make them as similar as possible. The provocateur who fronted nihilistic subversives Throbbing Gristle from 1975-81 and invented industrial music in the process now rocks the MILF (Moms I'd Like to Fuck) look. And he couldn't be happier.
But don't let radical surgical procedures and thorny gender issues distract you from Gen's primary reasons for packing his new collection of bustiers and touring North America. His old post-TG sonic vehicle, Psychic TV, has relaunched as a septet (Gen calls the band "PTV3"), and after recently ravishing Europeans with their "full-on hyperdelic rock," they group plans to open your mind and pour pure bliss into it.
One reason for PTV's reemergence is Godstar: Thee Director's Cut, a two-disc soundtrack to a film Gen's been trying to shoot since 1985. If the Godstar movie ever manifests, it will celebrate Rolling Stones genius Brian Jones as a prototypical pandrogyne, a shaman whose unique talents were thwarted by Jagger-Richards and who died tragically young. Gen's 1966 meeting with Jones spurred the Manchester-born lad down the path of society-flouting behavior on which he continues to prance today. Unfortunately, a shady manager swindled 250,000 pounds generated from sales of PTV's "Godstar" single, itself a glorious paean to Jones. Further hindering completion of this ill-fated project were Gen's scapegoating by British authorities that forced him into exile in America and a debilitating jump out of his flame-engulfed Los Angeles home.
Genesis--whose voice sounds curiously elfin--has evolved into one of those charming raconteurs whose word streams you hope never end. It's hard to fathom now that he spearheaded Throbbing Gristle, whose noise frequencies and rhythms were constructed to force listeners to shit, piss, vomit, and ejaculate against their will.
Gen's musical career has been paradoxical. In Throbbing Gristle, he made music that was way ahead of its time and antagonistic, whereas PTV resurrected the '60s psychedelic spirit of peace, freedom, and love. PTV also had a phase of playing electronic music during the acid-house/early rave daze, but they later returned to Nuggets-style garage-psych. Schizophrenic, no?
"Speaking as a biologically half-male/half-female person, yeah, it's probably been a bit schizophrenic," he says with a devilish chuckle. "[With Throbbing Gristle, we] felt that things had to be dismantled after the '70s with prog rock and disco and all that horrible manufactured music. Plus, it was done in the political and social context of Reagan and Thatcher, and that's why punk happened almost parallel to us--because there was so much cynicism and disenchantment with authority at the time that you tended to react in an extreme way."
Psychic TV have been less extreme than TG, but they've reached more people as a result. "In all the different incarnations," Genesis says, "I wanted to make music that's joyful, anarchic, fun, ironic, and intelligent all at the same time. We could stop dead, make jokes, and then do a really serious atonal piece, and then do a pop song. This is a very positive, upbeat pro-future band."
PTV's return to stages stems from Gen's idealistic sense of duty. "I only play when I feel like there's an energy I have to release or there seems to be an inertia in the culture that requires some form of commentary or short-circuiting to get movement again. We have to counter the darkness that seems to override the culture. [The] most perfect response is a highly psychedelic rough-and-ready basic rock explosion.
"Psychedelic ultimately is an attitude," Gen concludes. "Like many people, I had a re-infatuation with life-affirming psychedelic enhancers in the '80s. That really did help me to let go of the industrial angst and look at a much more light-filled and positive way of dealing with creativity. [PTV] was a return to my original motivations for choosing a path of creativity as opposed to the one I was supposed to have, which was to be either a politician or advertising executive. I argue that I am actually a politician and advertising executive. It's just the product isn't the one they expected."