Julian Cope presents Head Heritage

Psychic TV
Trip Reset

Released 1996 on Cleopatra
Reviewed by a23, 27/04/2004ce

I picked this album up whilst visiting San Diego in 1997. As someone deeply influenced and inspired by Genesis P thru Throbbing Gristle and subsequently PTV I had become disillusioned with the directions PTV took from the end of the ‘80s and switched off. Perhaps the hand of Chance put this one my way, for it’s a splendid album; the first studio album PTV had undertaken for seven years at the time of its release in 1996 and featuring an all new line up with Gen, the main collaborator being Larry Thrasher. The cover features a dali-esque clock-cum-speedometer "tripping" at 80 miles an hour and having covered 0023 miles since the "trip(counter) was reset". The clock is surrounded by a fiery ouroubouros like ring with a naked embracing couple underneath and whorls of space. Fitting for an album which has themes of Shamanic journeying/transformation thru sexuality/resurrection as its centrepoint. Sleeve notes by Dr Dan Joy (seasoned psychonaut…apparently) are bizarre and amusing, making claims for the album that border on the Messianic - plus stating that "Trip Reset is even better than lots and lots of sex and drugs mixed together".

The album comprises 11 tracks and lasts a full 78 minutes. The opener, THE LA LA SONG is one of these superbly catchy, poptastic little numbers in the vein of GODSTAR that dispels any doubt that GPO can turn on the Paisley Psychedelic pop when he chooses. Lyrically the song is about preparation for the journey ahead…"I will purge myself of all my pride, I will drown myself with wine…I will search myself for all I hide". Midway thru are the three questions "Are you a man? Are you a devil?, Are you a God?" - well indeed - we are all three in one.

Syd Barrett has had a touch or two in the inspiration behind this album and the first sighting is on a version of the Floyd’s "Set the controls…". Delicate vibes set the ball rolling then chants in the Gregorian style set up an air of menace. We may be going for the heart of the sun - but it ain’t Sol as we see it but Sol Niger (the black sun) that Gen’s aiming towards. Deep rolling drums pound out the trance dance. Gen half whispers the hallowed words. Love is the shadow that ripens the mind. Some space travel next accompanied by birdsong and children’s/angels’ voices before the drums start up again, booming from subterranean places…the heart of the sun…tail off into mystery.

I BELIEVE WHAT YOU SAID takes the journey further - the soul is now travelling thru time as well as space: "everything makes some sense" - though the impression is of one being confused and questing. The hypnotic drumbeat is still there flanked by mellow keyboards with Gen’s intoning - reminiscent of "Message from the Temple" in spirit. I believe what you said for now… but I don’t know if I will always…

MOTHER JACK takes the form of a spoken fairy tale/childhood memory over delicate plucked guitar and sounds of playful children and lullabies. In the midst of this image of beautiful summer child is the sudden realization of abuse/murderous wishes by the envious mother and some demonic bestiality in the form of the great Goat of Pan who aids the girl in her quest by giving her the "silver blade sharp with secrets".

WRONGS OF SPRING is a reflection on the Mother - what gives you life can also cripple you. There are veiled sexual references with a nod to Persephone perhaps - "everything sneaking underground". Gradually the rhythm picks up - like a train moving inexorably, unstoppable…the memories change from happy to something darker…"shadows hurt you inside…in the dark place where I would hide, buried alive". Shame and guilt.

LADY MAYBE is a high point - a dual tracked epic on transformation. The title hints at uncertainty over gender and over the Lady-like qualities of the dominatrix…"Lady maybe: the way you spay me / the way you flay me / the way you display me" The second tracked spoken voice is again locked in cold dark places, swimming and plotting. There’s a sense that one needs to find the other and be freed thru sexuality. William Breeze brings the track to a fitting end with layered electric viola rising to crescendo.

WHITE SKY invokes thoughts of astral travel or possibly return from Bardo - we know the soul’s been off exploring on its own and is seeking to become flesh again - but in the right person. Images of Hell, creation, Christ’s death and rebirth are intoned over rhythmic drum/percussion. The coda is elegiac with keyboards and viola conspiring.

BLACK CAT is a first listen an Alice in Wonderland nonsense rhyme about cats and hats and miaow miaows over kiddies tinkly keyboards. But then the lyrics suggest unity with the cat as a desired option "You’re so cool, we’re gonna break all the rules…You’re always where I am" - Cat representing shadow perhaps, but also qualities of the anima. There’s a long "tail out" with reintroduction of the deep booming Shaman’s drum, segueing into
A STAR TOO FAR (Lullaby for Syd Barrett) a song of devotion in the same frame as Godstar’s revering of Brian Jones - but sadder, more low key. Gen’s vocals are echoed by The Angels of Light (aka Caresse & Genesse)…"the comet you are is a star too far". The rhythm speeds into Techno territory, insistent beat then fall to Earth.

SUSPICIOUS is the closest Gen’s got to paying homage to the Velvets - mellow guitar harmonics and "ooh ooh"s. It’s a love song in all but the lyrics! Suspicious of you… After the main chorus the tempo builds with drums sounding like they’re taken from "Heroin" and some delicate guitarwork…worming its way into your head and your feet. Sugar sweet chorus girls chant "devious too, honey" then Gen takes up the final verse and slows down into post-coital reverie. Beautiful.

FIRE WOMAN ends the album and features some fine guitar work over a pulsing "deep lounge" beat complete with growls and African style chants celebrating the sexual creativity …"unwind the loom of life inside the womb". The song is sultry and seductive - a sexual paean - exultation to the flame haired Goddess.

At the end of the day it’s not better than lots and lots of sex and drugs, but definitely a sensual pleasure.

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