Genesis P-Orridge has had quite the hand in my development and formation as a full-fledged adult, from Throbbing Gristle's 20 Jazz Funk Greats through to Psychic TV's bizarre faux-compilation album Jack the Tab: Tekno Acid Beat which featured ten songs credited to different bands, but united by the fact that they were, in fact, created by Psychic TV. These albums were an integral part of my realization that music did not have to be confined by structural commonalities. In its newest incarnation, Psychic TV has gone by the moniker PTV3, but as always they continue to push the boundaries of what is — and isn't — significant experimental music.
Their latest effort, Mr Alien Brain vs. The Skinwalkers, is a bit of a tough nut to crack, most definitely to be avoided as an entry point into Psychic TV's discography, but a pleasure to listen to once you settle into it. As with most of P-Orridge's work, Mr Alien Brain vs. The Skinwalkers is a rather abrasive CD, jarring and disjointed to the ninth degree. However, this time around the emphasis has been placed on live studio recordings rather than the usual overdubbing and remixing. Made with little preparation, the CD was created without decisive thought given to structure, and the results vary from track to track. This approach lends Mr Alien Brain vs. The Skinwalkers a liveliness not present in their releases since A Pagan Day, adding organic textures which have been absent for years.
Sadly, the CD exists as a tribute to Genesis' late wife, Paula, and was released a year after her death. With this context and deep-seeded emotion permeating each track, this may be one of Psychic TV's most emotional discs, although as said, it is not what one would call easily accessible.The album opens up with "The Thin Garden", the first of the album's instrumentals, and a deceptively relaxing one. This track acts as a counter point to the next instrumental, "Mr. Brain" a song so pulsing with life it is easily my favorite on the album. Mr Alien Brain vs. The Skinwalkers speaks to P-Orridge's inner conflict, with some songs silently evoking an almost life-affirming mentality, and others (The Syd Barrett cover "No Good Trying", I'm looking at you) speaking to a negative, somewhat nihilistic need to hide. As complex as most of their more recent work, Mr Alien Brain vs. The Skinwalkers is a worthwhile purchase for diehard PTV fans, but not one of their essential releases. The truth is, if you're the type of person this disc is perfect for, you've probably already bought it.