How does one mend a broken heart? That rhetorical question first musically posed by the Brothers Gibb is now something which was (and still is, I surmise) weighing heavily on the mind of GENESIS BREYER P-ORRIDGE. After years of dormancy, Genesis P-Orridge is suddenly profligacy personified once again, though not to the Guinness record-breaking point of the past. Alternately firing the twin engines of a revived THROBBING GRISTLE (with first-ever US performances announced recently) and PTV3, her electrodes to the chest cavity efforts to bring back the dance-rock of the first post-TG project co-founded with fellow Gristler PETER CHRISTOPHERSON. 2007’s Hell is Invisible… Heaven is Her/e was a carefully crafted affair, with a selection of well-chosen cameos ( GIBBY HAYNES) and an excellent band pulled together. Loosely centered on Gen’s self-created ‘pandrogeny’ quest (the transformation of two beings to become the same sexual being, which Gen embarked upon with her partner LADY JAYE), this newest record is centered on a more tragic note, mourning the very untimely loss of Jaye in October of 2007.
“The Thin Garden” starts off the proceedings with an echoplex-like reverbation a la SPECTRUM, the lazily strummed melody line like a drunken dragonfly haphazardly flitting about on the way to SYD BARRETT ’s sun-drenched back garden. The hidden path does lead into the dense hedgerow of Barrett’s tangled plot, with back-tracked vocals leading straight into a faithful rendition of his “No Good Trying,” the banshee wails chasing the dappled sunlight away. Gen’s fascination and love of Brit folk is fairly well chronicled (I recall a statement where she claimed “A Very Cellular Song” from THE INCREDIBLE STRING BAND was her favorite song of all time), despite the more familiar noise, industrial and acid-house tags liberally applied to predict influences and outputs of her muse.
Most of these songs are longer and more focused on buildup and release. In “The Alien Brain” (among others), there’s a prominent guitar sound present, and the playing by DAVID MAX throughout the cd is uniformly excellent; window tinting of JOHN McGEOCH or WILL SERGEANT has been applied in an even, uniform coating. Another aspect of this record is the amount of covers on it (three, including an uncredited closer of 13th FLOOR ELEVATORS own “Rollercoaster” with Gibby singing), which belies the speed in which it was created. A short time after Lady Jaye’s passing, the band re-convened after a six month break and recorded a live session at a taping from NPR’s World Café radio program in Philadelphia this past May. Additional material was recorded in the Galapagos studio, one song was on the vinyl-only version of the previous record (Jaye’s love song to Gen called “I Am Making A Mirror”), and there’s a re-mix of “New York Story” provided by MICHAEL GIRA.
“Trussed” is a wordplay relying on the phonetic similarities to “trust” and the images of bondage and submission, a with delayed coruscating guitar riff similar to SAVAGE REPUBLIC bringing gravitas to Gen’s somewhat accusatory inquiry of whether fidelity is assumed or questioned. The guitar tone in “Pickles and Jam” (my favorite track of the cd) could easily fit on a 17 PYGMIES record, which coincidentally is a Savage Republic side project.
Of the songs most germane to Jaye, “Papal Breakdance” and “I Love You I Know” really go to the heart of the matter. The former’s got a bouncy bass line and would be fun to shake your hips to, but the lyrics contain a simple and direct message from Gen to Jaye. The latter has a musical backdrop of what sounds like a mix of a pneumatic dentist’s drill, synth line, and squiggly guitar line to the vocals of Lady Jaye and Gen proclaiming their love for each other. It’s very touching. I’m not going to pretend I’ve got any idea about what fuels Gen’s Pandrogeny concept or even try to understand it my own context, but it was clear from both my brief meeting of Gen and Jaye, along with the recordings made and shared, that they did truly care for other another deeply. May you rest in peace, Lady Jaye Breyer.
The bonus DVD has some nice footage of the band on a couple of dates from their 2007 tour, but it’s fairly noisy print-wise and is a single camera perspective. The behind the scenes content in the rehearsal space and pre-gig dinners, footage of Jaye at a modeling session, shown at what looks to be a memorial service for her. Not essential but a nice enough freebie; I wonder if MARIE LOSIER (the person responsible for the footage) will end up finalizing the documentary she was making about Gen and Pandrogeny, or if this is the extent of her efforts.