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Psychic TV – Allegory And Self / Pagan Day

Dais / Sacred Bones

Allegory And Self

Psychic TV - Allegory And SelfAhhh, “Godstar” was a surprise back in the day, a light and airy departure from the Crowley curves and noisy exorcisms that had nailed the first two Psychic TV albums. Further Throbbing Gristle fan head-scratching ensued, more so when it hauled the operation completely overground – charting in the UK in the late sixties – an eerie co-incidence to this tribute to the former Rolling Stone who ended his short life at bottom of a swimming pool.

“Godstar” was / is perfection – a melancholic shirt-spinner of a track, off-springing from “Ov Power”‘s disco potentials (perhaps) with hyperdelic smears and catchy Motown serenades. Remember scrambling to the VCR to record the video off the TV; those ember glows of Thatcherism were culturally desperate times, I can tell you. Anyways, Allegory And Self follows this with another slice of pop perfection, “Just Like Arcadia”, a sugary slap to the hips that catches Mr G‘s delivering a strangely croon-able dryness to bright acoustic strums. A euphoria that snatches you away on fleshy flashes and soft firework whirs, grab-bags an occultist swagger whilst hedonistically twisting the smiles.

The rest could have happily glided in the same direction, but where’s the fun in that when there’s plenty of howling wolf tomfoolery to be had? “Southern Comfort” bursts on in there with methylated mean-spiritedness and gnarly candour, cuts a fine figure that harks back to all that Force The Hand Of Chance inkiness that I’ve always loved about the band. A glass-glowing darkly which births the later “Starlit Mire”, a rather brilliant Antichrist of discomfort instigated by a Austin Osman Spare novel of the same name. But I’m getting ahead of myself a little here, skipping past a few choice frolics that sneaked in between these two experimental pillars.

The gothic-tinged romanticisms of “We Kiss” for one, a troupe which holds a “Just Drifting” majesty, later revisited /re-worked in the TG reunion antics of the noughties. Another that has Gen toe-dipping into the early acidhaus-ologies and sampledelica of the day, even his six-year-old daughter gets in there with a surreal little ditty to tinkering Casio presets (sweetly asking her mum if she could do another at its end). A cuteness that makes for a odd mix-tape feel, one that conceptually twists the the oily ying with the yang. Then “Dweller” sort of bizarrely marries both worlds together (briefly) with some clever peaking colours and pulsating excitements, cutting the slack for the later tracks to slip off into some nostalgic road trip.

“Being lost’ with its Fonz-like comb-back rhythms and Brian Wilson-isms; the odd drifting boat / tarot card flip of “Baby’s Gone Away”, with its Donovan-esque jangle and harmonised backing singers. All ending on cheesy push-button instamatics of “Ballet Disco”, a vibe that has me dusting off my battered copy of Towards The Infinite Beat one more time. Allegory And Self‘s sound is a warming, strangely optimistic affair, paddling in the technological shallows of the day to deliver plenty of memorable touch-points.

Pagan Day

Psychic TV - Pagan DayIn contrast, Pagan Day was a sketchy four-track document of Gen and Alex Fergusson bare-boning a few ideas around one afternoon, candy-wrapping them in pop-tinged acoustics and synth instrumentals. It gives a rough insight into the creative cogs of the band that was initially and frustratingly available for only one hour on 23 December 1984.

Got to say this is my least favourite of the PTV canon, comprising paper-thin productions that probably should have been given a bit more spit’n’polish before being put out there. Having said that, I kind of admire that fact they did, delivering tantalising glimpses of things to come and things that would never be, and in particular “New Sexuality” that hinted at Psychic TV’s future dance-floor aspirations.

-Michael Rodham-Heaps-

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