The recording process for the new PTV3 record, Hell is Invisible, Heaven is Her/E was a profoundly liberating experience for Genesis. Huge leaps in recording technology allowed Genesis to retain the insistence on spontaneity and improvisation while allowing for greater precision in the mixing and editing phase. “Honestly, I believe it’s the best, most complete, most truthful and perfect album I’ve ever done in any band.”
Themes of human improvement and evolution find prominent expression in the new album. The title encompasses “the idea that reality is created by perception, is fictional, and you are the only person that will witness every single second of your life and your experiences of your reality,” and the pun on her/e points to pandrogyny as an evolutionary strategy. Pandrogyny deals with pleasure, sexuality, gender identity and physical alteration and improvement, all of which Genesis is (in)famous for embodying. “Pleasure,” Genesis says, “is a weapon. The world we live in is so overtly polarized, so binary, so oppressive and totalitarian… that we face the potential of a new dark age as a natural result of this mentality… Where there is so much inhibition and so much intimidation in the culture at large that simply to smile, relax and have a really good time becomes a political act.” Genesis sees this as imperative for the survival of the species because, in spite of our monumental technological advances, “human behavior, for all intents and purposes is still stuck in the prehistoric era. Can you imagine why it’s dangerous to have prehistoric human behavior set loose in a futuristic technological environment? It’s terrifying… [and it’s] the basic underlying problem of our time.”
“We are proposing that the human species, for better or worse, has to evolve its behavior and its being, physically, mentally, consciousness-wise, all has to catch up to technology… so that we’re equal to our toys and our ability with tools.” Genesis proposes a blending of technology with the human body, which is “just raw material… simply a means of making the brain mobile.” Pandrogyny, in other words, is not just about breaking down gender binarism, though that’s a large part of it. “Some people feel they’re a man trapped in a woman’s body, some people feel they’re a woman trapped in a man’s body, the pandrogyne is just feeling trapped in a body.” Each person, Genesis, says, should take full control of their identity and take full responsibility for the decisions they make.
Hell is Invisible, Heaven is Her/E is not just a psychedelic garage rock record; it is a theoretical work, a political act, and a call for evolution, encompassing all of Genesis’ current philosophical preoccupations as well as his musical aesthetics. “If people only listen to this one record by Psychic TV and judge my entire musical career on this one CD then I’d be happy, because this is the only album I truly feel is 100 percent inseparable from the visions I had at the beginning.” Coming from a person whose work has had as incalculable an influence on modern music as Genesis, this is not a statement to be taken lightly.
Psychic TV’s new album is out on Sweet Nothing, and Throbbing Gristle’s Part Two: The Endless Not is available on Mute. Any self-respecting Genesis P-Orridge fan ought to pick these up immediately, and newcomers to Genesis’ legacy ought to take this opportunity to get better acquainted.