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PTV3 (Psychic TV) at Brooklyn Night Bazaar

“Can we re-invent a SELF consciously in order to maximize its potential and, hopefully, therefore our satisfaction in life? My lifelong search is for focused mutability and to change the means of perception; to challenge every status quo as a matter of principle and never rest, never assume or imagine
that the task of reinvention has a finite ending. Permanent change towards a radical, positive and liberating evolutionary mutation of the human species is
the core essence and motivation of every single aspect of my creativity.” (Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, Thee Process is Thee Product)

Legendary outfit Psychic TV, known in its current incarnation as PTV3, played two free shows to overflowing crowds at Brooklyn Night Bazaar during the
final weekend of 2013. A collection of psychoanalysts, philosophers, and an art therapist attended, some familiar with the group’s work, others desiring a
new experience, none knowing what to expect. What do you say of a band whose range of work has spanned decades, so diverse it can hardly be classified in
any one genre—post-punk, acid house, and now ’60s psychedelic rock? Incorporating live video projections (by Jeanne Angel and Sam Zimmerman) into their
current realization, PTV3 manages to stay true to their roots while embodying the process of continual transformation. Known for breaking boundaries and
defying classification, the band’s heart, Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, has dedicated he/r life and art—considering them to be equivalent—to the constant
reinvention of the self, encouraging others not to feel constrained by imposed societal constructs and perceived limitations.

It’s a rare thing to see a band with such an aura, perhaps because there is a message in this music. A poet, and one could say a philosopher in he/r own
right, Genesis has always insisted that he/r work have meaning and provoke thought, often asking others, “But what’s the message?” This marks the
difference between Conceptual art and what Brion Gysin coined deceptual art. Because we are living in a time where deceptual art is in abundance, an
encounter with a group like PTV3 with such vision and presence is an inspiration.

The chemistry between the members was palpable. Genesis declared this the “best version of Psychic TV ever,” with the flowing bass line of Alice Genese,
Jess Stewart on keyboards and flute, the energetic musings of Jeff Berner’s guitar, and John Jackson punctuating with violin. Drummer and ringmaster Edley
O’Dowd noted, “When Genesis is on the whole band is on,” and man were they on Saturday, opening the second night with “Higher
and Higher,” a tune that’s been a staple throughout the years and brings the message to the fore. Originally titled “Depravity” or “Depraved Corrupted” on
early PTV3 albums, the lyrics and presentation have evolved while the message remains the same. Discussing mainstream societal views of he/r lifestyle as
transgressive, challenging listeners to think outside the norm, “And I know why they talk to me like I’m insane … because I’m depraved, corrupted,
displayed, inducted … Do you want to live in heaven and be bored? Do you want to live in the middle? Or do you want to be like me and be someone else?
Well, just be normal and I will laugh … just be normal and I will cry.” Genesis transmits the frustration felt fighting the continual “war” against
normalization and homogenization, exhibiting tremendous passion to continue despite it all with a resounding, “What the hell are we fighting for? Higher
and higher.”

PTV3 paid homage to Nikola Tesla with “Alien Lighting Meat Machine” and took the audience back in time with phenomenal renditions of Can’s “Mother Sky” as
well as “Silver Machine” by Hawkwind, members of which incidentally also recently
played in Brooklyn at Saint Vitus Bar. Many of us grew up listening to these songs, so seeing and hearing them dismantled and reanimated was a delight and
also a hope, creating the experience of the past washing over the present in the most powerful way, giving one a sense there will always be a future.

Several new tracks were also unveiled, including the instant classic “Greyhounds of the Future.” With its hypnotic chorus, “Nothing matters but the end of matter,” trippy interludes with staccato saxophones
(horns by Michael Foster and Matthew Choplick), lyrics challenging us to rethink our belief systems, investigate their origins, and explore alternate
possibilities, the song proclaims that only then “maybe you have a choice of reality.” Genesis believes there should be no limit to the imagination and
hopes to inspire others to break away “from seeing themselves as one-dimensional and having no potential to seeing themselves as being almost anything they
want to be, and that those different things don’t have to always agree in the usual accepted way.” (Breyer P-Orridge, UK television program “Riverside”
interview 1982)

Exhibiting this comfort with contradiction, the final set wrapped with “White Nights,” which was fitting for the weekend between Christmas and New Year’s
Eve. Even though Genesis informed the crowd at the start of the show that s/he doesn’t partake in commercial holiday celebrations, s/he nevertheless left
us with a charming vision of Santa Claus checking his list, “going over it twice, to see who is naughty and who is nice.”



Simon Critchley

Vanessa Sinclair


The Brooklyn Rail

FEB 2014

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