Music Review: Psychic TV, “Alien Be-In” Remix EP

Published on January 16th, 2015 in: Culture Shock, Current Faves, Music, Music Reviews, Retrovirus, Reviews |

By Ben Van D

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For many, Acid House is inextricably linked to a place and time—the dim, sometimes garish, and impossibly vibrant rave culture of the early ’90s. It harkens back to an intoxicated era of manic excess, quasi-spiritual tribe mentality, and devastatingly harsh comedowns. If you missed it, imagine Cirque de Soliel performing in 1960s revival costumes in an underground parking lot at twice the BPM through a set of broken speakers.

Psychic TV had their hands in it. DEEP in it. PTV’s core members are all legends in their own right at this point, and lionized as innovators of not just great electronic music, but also countless genres of the stuff. “Alien Be-In” drops you into a high point in rave culture. It’s a core sample of sorts, and a snapshot of a certain iteration of the band given contrast and context by the mixes that follow it. It is introduced, stripped bare, rebuilt in a modern style, and reimagined in the style of it’s influences.

“Alien Be-In”
An invasion of lazy chrome buzz saws swooping and diving in a grey B-movie city skyline, scavenging birds lit white against clouds of ash. Like the best of the Acid-era Psychic TV, the sound is still peppered with that vestigial Throbbing Gristle style. Opening with a clean sample that is repeated throughout, immediately followed by a sky-swallowing groan from a baritone didgeridoo and onrushing attack of a dull-edged beat thumping full force into your chest. What follows is a mutating mesh of ominous shapes consuming the countryside as you speed through and finally away from the chaos on rickety track, hungry gulls spinning overhead. It’s an acid track with didgeridoo, and you still come out with bruises.

“Alien Be-In (Fred Giannelli Mono Mix)”
Not so much a dance track than traveling music for those 3 p.m. lycanthropic comedowns trudging through an unfamiliar wood. The thing has a clean, bare geometry by design. Some technomancy is put to work distilling this Mono Mix from the original stacks of floppy discs into a brilliantly simple and infinitely listenable piece. Giannelli reaches back into the thing’s acid infancy and presents it naked, bald, and wet from the womb. It’s face-hugger of a track, and easily the best of the remixes.

“Alien Be-In (Silent Servant Remix)”
Shifting down the PH scale, the Silent Servant mixes betray a more modern EBM sensibility. Brighter, even modestly funky at points (as funky as a track with muted Gregorian-chant-sounding samples can be), the ominous feel of the original is kicked down to a minimum so the mix can wander a little more in tone. It is successful (to a point) in widening the range and of the track, but at the cost of real impact.

“Alien Be-In (Silent Servant/John Tejada Remix)”
The addition of John Tejada to this Silent Servant Mix brings with it a more solid focus, and makes for a more compelling track as a result. The use of old school Roland gear (a TR-808 and TB-303) as homage to early Acid House producers is a sound concept, and is put to good effect here. There comes with this one a genuine sentimentality that somehow imbues it with a more nostalgic feel than the original mix, which feels almost timeless by comparison.

The EP is called “Alien Be-In,” features samples of ranting alien truthers, and through the sheer tyranny of skill possessed by the musicians involved, it’s all somehow riveting and not even a little embarrassing. If you were part of the UK rave scene of the ’90s, this is a love letter from your tireless pals at Dark Entries. If you are a disciple of Genesis or Giannelli, it’s a fine example of their work from a particularly transformative era in their careers. If you have written off Acid House, or never really bothered with it, this is as strong an argument for the genre as you will come by.

The “Alien Be-In” Remix EP was released by Dark Entries on January 13. The 12″ is housed in a metallic silver die-cut sleeve and a neon green label, featuring the psychic skull transformed into an alien cone head by designer Eloise Leigh.

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