Wednesday, 5 November 2008

Beat to Death

Fred Giannelli met Genesis P-Orridge in thee mid-eighties.
By thee end ov thee decade Gianelli not only found E self to be a full time member ov Psychick TV, but thee E responsible for thee creation ov thee band’s new direction and sound.
(I'll stop that now.)
These were good times for the band; their touring schedule was massive, and their shows were going down a storm, gaining reputation and even music press interest.
They’d come out from the underground; and in the heat of the new found light played venues such as London’s Astoria in 1988, where I was very happy to be part of an excited, capacity audience.
And they were totally mindblowing.
I have never attended a gig since that came close to what Psychic TV achieved that night in London.
I have never since been part of an audience that is so stunned by what they are hearing and seeing (the visual element had been really turned up by this point, becoming an integral part of their performance - body-builders with numerous piercings going through routines in the skimpiest of pairs of trunks; spells and rituals being acted out on stage by accompanying actors; at least a dozen large-screen TVs broadcasting cut-up images, montage-mixes and eye candy of the most epileptic inducing intensity); so stunned that at the end of one number Genesis asked us, the open-mouthed stunned into silence audience, if we'd like them to stop!
The tunes on this album are very similar to the music the band were creating that night.
Tribal, percussive, trancy soundscapes that build and build, creating intense walls of sound through repetition and heavy, heavy layering - Giannelli's feedback guitar playing on this album is stunning: slotted into the mix theremin-like; really filling-in all the gaps; seamlessly blended in an act of pure musical alchemy.
And it is a very dance-orientated sound. A very early version of trance in fact; one that is now considered to be pioneering for its time and one that was inspirational to many.
Yet, despite the genre, this is not an album that is full of joy and celebration.
In fact, if this album is about anything at all, then death is really what lies at its heart.
After all, what is the infinite beat?
Everything must come to an end.
O yeah, everything except no longer existing (don't mean to upset any resurrectionists out there!).
So the Infinite Beat is death... maybe...

The album itself is dedicated to the Spanish artist Salvador Dali, who died in 1989, and there is an epitaph for him on the inner sleeve.

The track 'I.C. Water' is "For Ian Curtis".

(On the single 7" vinyl release of this track, etched onto the flipside are these words:

Curtis's epitaph is scratched between twenty-three layers of spiral.
The album Towards Thee Infinite Beat begins: "There are only 23 words...".)

At the beginning of the track, John Lennon can apparently be heard, talking from what sounds like a pub; one that has a very noisy pool table.

At the end of the track, 'Bliss' (featuring Hadj Abdelsalam Attar, a master musician of Jajouka, those almost mythical musicians who Brian Jones went to seek out in the 1960s), a recorded telephone message can be heard; the message informs Genesis (and us) that the artist Brion Gysin has "just died" (he died in '86).
Genesis had been a bit of a disciple of Gysin, and by following in the path of another one of his heroes, William Burroughs, he sought out and worked with the artist.

I guess by sharing this intimate moment with his audience, Genesis is making the demise of his collaborator and friend into an art piece.
For Genesis, life is art, therefore: art is life (and death).
Art is not something one does: it is all.
You don't believe me?
Do a search on the word Pandrogeny, and see how life has shaped-up for Genesis over the last few years...
Despite all the loss and absence that infiltrates the album; there are moments of real joy to behold.
The track 'S.M.I.L.E.', I believe, contains one of Genesis's greatest lyrics; not only in its composition but also in its delivery.
It's a beautiful song, and when I hear it, it always reminds me of my daughter (Ahh! or Heave... whichever you feel is most appropriate), which is an odd thing to say when discussing an album that I have already associated so heavily with death and morbidity!

But if anyone is going to take you by surprise, well, Psychic TV and Genesis P-Orridge have always known how to do that...

Psychic TV - Towards Thee Infinite Beat (1990)

Infinite Beat
Drone Zone
I.C. Water
Black Rainbow
A Short Sharp Taste OV Mistress Mix
Horror House
Alien Be-In

Vinyl rip @ 256kbs.
It is a little crackly in places - this was a big session album - but still sounds sweet.
This is now quite a rare piece it seems, so forget digital emptiness and get on down to these real vinyl beats. Yeah! Get it here


Kelstar said...

Is this vinyl rip any different than the normal CD release ('cept for the pops)?

Thanks for thee very descriptive description for this album. :)

When that I.C. Water single came out i snapped it up. It was stolen a year later with most of my other vinyl at the time. I *never realized* that was Ian on the front. Huh!

Anonymous said...

incredible album. Genesis was the last person to speak with Ian Curtis, right?Anyway, keep up the good work, I have really been enjoying your bloggings.


englishfog said...

Thanks for this one roy. Awsome review too!!


roy rocket said...

Thanks for the feedback. It helps!

Hiya P.C. Howyadoing?
If your information is correct - and you don't mean 'speak' in a metaphorical sense - then it adds even more reverance to Genesis's lyric. But I wasn't aware of that connection :<>

As for other mixes, there is a remixed version by Jack the Tab (which I believe is one of Giannelli's aliases), but I've never heard the CD version so I'm not sure what it includes...

Good to hear from you, englishfog (great name - very 'particular' [bad joke]), glad you liked it.

Regards to all.
Shanti, roy

Anonymous said...

The voice at the beginning of "I.C. Water" chatting in a poolhall is actually the voice of Ian Curtis from a taped interview Gen had of him. If you need any more insights into the creation of "Infinite Beat" you can always contact me @

telepathic regards,

fred.giannelli said...

Let me clear up some inaccuracies in your post. The gig @ London's Astoria was before I came over to London. Scott Nobody was the guitarist for that gig. I showed up in London to record "R.U.Xperienced" with Caresse that summer and got drafted into Psychic TV to do the US tour that Aug-Oct 1988. We then started recording over the next 2 years the songs for "Infinite Beat", some of which I had already written and which we started breaking in live immediately in late 1988.

telepathic regards,

LJ said...

Who could cap a comment by Fred? I love this album, but Psychic TV never really go to this level again.

Was Gen the last person to talk to Ian Curtis? I can never take what he says that seriously....

roy rocket said...

Yes, it was nice of Fred to add a comment - the banter actually carried on outside of the blog via e mail, which was great, considering he could have been uptight and demanding royalties (or something...).

I agree, Psychic TV never bettered this album; and for a brief moment they were the zeitgeist.

Was Genesis the last person to speak with Curtis?
Who knows? [Gen?]
The past is a fiction.
Go with the legend... it's always more interesting...
Shanti, roy

Matthew Best said...

Thanks for the cool review of the album, and the gig. I wish I could remember it as well you apparently do! (I'm the one on the far right of your band photo.)

All the best,

-Matthew Best

roy rocket said...

Cheers Matthew.
Great to hear from you.

I guess the gig that night at the Astoria was just another job for you; but really, from my point of view: quite remarkable.
You were definitely part of something that was very, very far out.
And definitely a part of the best music (and performance) PTV ever produced.
Thanks for that.

Hope you're still doing it...
Regards, roy

Dara said...

I concur. Myself and my friends were literally looking at each other, speechless. Never been to a gig like it.