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Music Video Distributors presents
Psychic TV: Time's Up (Live) (1999)

"Good evening. I am only Quentin Crisp, and I have no idea what I am doing here. I havealways said, music is the most amount of noise conveying the least amount ofinformation."
- Quentin Crisp

Review By: Dan Lopez   
Published: March 06, 2002

Stars: Genesis P. Orridge, Master Musicians of Jajouka, Robin Rimbaud
Other Stars: Billy Childish & and Thee Headcoats, Thee Majesty, ? And The Mysterians
Director: Josh Carter

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (some language in song lyrics and documentary)
Run Time: 03h:00m:00s
Release Date: December 04, 2001
UPC: 022891433293
Genre: music


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
B+ BA-C- B-

DVD Review

Psychic TV is a musical group with their fingers in many pies. Dabbling in many genres and styles, their music has been largely hit-and-miss since their official formation in 1982. PTV founder and "spiritual leader," Genesis P. Orridge is something of an icon in underground music, and deservedly so. His first group, Throbbing Gristle, was not only one of the core components of the late 1970s industrial music scene (even coining the phrase, "industrial music"), but their members spun off to lay the foundations for that genre for years to come, forming bands like Coil and Chris & Cosey. Psychic TV has gone in many different directions; from trying to revive 1960s-style psychedelic rock, all the way to actually championing the cause of so-called "acid house" techno in its infancy. G.P. Orridge has also ushered in a new breed of spoken word/"chill out" performance artists with his own work under names like Electronic Newspaper and Thee Majesty. PTV has even been responsible for founding a pseudo-religion called the "Temple of Psychick Youth." Certainly no one will ever call Genesis P. Orridge boring. Although not really a commercial group, Psychic TV have managed to score a few hits over the years, and one of their songs was even used in one of Volkswagen's most successful broadcast campaigns. However, each major success seems to have driven them further into their own world, not content to satisfy the mainstream, and in 1999, a live concert at the Royal Festival Hall in London pretty much confirmed that concept. Time's Up Live is a document of that event that not only featured PTV, but other groups as well, including The Master Musicians of Jajouka, Billy Childish, Question Mark and The Mysterians, and the brilliant sound-sculpting of Robin Rimbaud, a.k.a Scanner. In addition, a spoken word performance by Thee Majesty is also featured, as are band introductions by actor Quentin Crisp, in one of his last public appearances. What made this concert quite special was that it was Genesis P. Orridge's first live appearance in Britian since 1991, when he was exiled from the country on charges of performing Satanic rituals, operating a pagan cult that was a threat to society, and a variety of other bizarre claims. Orridge was no stranger to this controversy (Throbbing Gristle routinely ran the razor's edge of exile as well), but it had a serious effect on his future work. Thanks to cooperation from record labels like Invisible, Dossier, Cleopatra, and Chicago's WaxTrax!, Psychic TV managed to continue, but the 1999 return to England was a pleasant surprise for most.The show begins with an appearance from Billy Childish and Thee Headcoats. Their performance is amazingly energized and bridges the gap between hard rock and pure punk, yet still managing to capture some of that '60s psychedelic atmosphere. It's a tremendous opening to the show, and gets things rolling well. They're followed by Question Mark And The Mysterians, boasting their original line-up (although I wouldn't really be able to confirm this). Naturally, they play their signature hit, "96 Tears" which, although a good performance, seems a bit dated for the mood of the show. Following The Mysterians, comes a brief interlude with Scanner. He performs one of his typical, live-mix beat sessions featuring splices from random cell-phone conversations—which is how he earned the moniker of "Scanner"—as he scansthe airwaves for material with which to construct his work. This is easily one of the highpoints in the show.Things continue with a performance by Thee Majesty, Genesis P. Orridge's spoken word project. I'll be honest, I've never much cared for his spoken word; it's always seemed egotistical and long-winded, but this actually isn't bad. Then we are ushered into a fantastic and engrossing appearance by The Master Musicians of Jajouka, with their current leader, Bachir Attar. The group goes back thousands of years as a traditional, royally-sponsored, cultural standard in Morocco, where they still perform and create their pieces in mountain caves. Considered to be magicians in local folklore, the Jajouka musicians change the mood of the show, but provide an obvious connection to that 1960s vibe the concert hopes to achieve.The final performance is an hour-long set by Psychic TV with the following playlist:She Touched MeRiot in the Eye of the SkySeduce MeJigsawI Like YouFeet of Broken GlassGodstarThey finish things off with a version of the Rolling Stones', Play With Fire. (Some of thepre-show and post-show time is spent playing a slightly remixed version of Drone Zone.)Oddly enough, despite the fact that Psychic TV has had new material up until at least 1994 (with new collaborator, Larry Thrasher), virtually all of these songs are from the G.P. Orridge/Alex Fergusson period of the band in the 1980s. To be honest, I have no clue who the musicians participating here are. There is never a decent view of them, and I really can't identify the current members by sight alone. There was one woman playing keyboards, but I'm unsure if it was Paula Orridge, Genesis' wife who had once been extremely active within the band. It's a decent set, though, and the inclusion of Jigsaw adds at least a hint of their industrial origins.I have to say, though, there are some disappointing aspects. While I expected Godstar on the playlist (PTV's only top 40 success in Britain), I also expected a variety of their work. Maybe a taste of their dance music, like Joy or United, or maybe some of theirmore recognizable tunes, like Love War Riot or Roman P. Keeping their sound asbasically a garage rock band seems to belittle their true, overall, talent. It's still a good show, as most of their live work is either bootlegged or extremely hard to obtain. If I had any major complaints, it would be that some of the other groups get a bit short-changed for time, especially Scanner, to make room for the lengthy Jajouka and Psychic TV sets. Despite the flaws, though, it's an entertaining concert that nicely combines a variety of styles into a truly unique experience and a triumphant return of PTV to the British stage.

Rating for Style: B+
Rating for Substance: B

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.33:1 - Full Frame
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicno


Image Transfer Review: Image quality tends to vary depending on the material, but the concert itself is crystal clear for the most part, handling all the wild visuals and chaotic camera work very well. The general mood and colorful atmosphere is obvious, and there no artifacts or other compression problems. The black level is handled well (which is important given the dark concert hall), and there is a high level of detail to the image. If I had any real complaints, it would be the questionable talent of the cameraman who inserts his own effects into the shots, like fast pans and wildly focusing in and out, which looks really, really bad and seems uncalled for. It would seem to be primairly handheld, which makes some of the shots rather hard to follow.

Image Transfer Grade: A-

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: For a musical DVD, the audio is sadly below expectations. Although recorded in stereo and decoded as a Dolby 2.0 Surround track, the sound is extremely underproduced and is more like a collapsed mono track given some slight, 2-channel expansion. If you went to a concert and recorded the whole thing through the microphone on your camera, it might sound like this. The soundtrack was not taken from the mixing board, and it suffers greatly for it. Lyrics are virtually impossible to understand, and much of the quieter guitar and string work is buried beneath thumping bass and loud drumkits. The track lacks a lot of depth and frequency range, and is quite harsh. I'm unsure why filmmakers were allowed to film and document the concert, but weren't given access to the proper audio. As a result, the performances sound primarily as they might if you were standing in the way back of the theater. The audio is functional, but lacks the true impact of any good live disc.

Audio Transfer Grade: C-

 

Disc Extras

Static menu
Scene Access with 14 cues and remote access
5 Other Trailer(s) featuring Betting Living Through Circuitry, Goth Box, Goth IndustrialMadness, History of Genitorturers, Christian Death Live
Packaging: Scanavo
Picture Disc
1 Disc
1-Sided disc(s)
Layers: single

Extra Extras:
  1. Two additional music videos.
  2. A conversation with Quentin Crisp.
Extras Review: The most significant extra feature is the 22-minute documentary Cut Up Concert, whichplays before the actual performances. It's a look at how the concert got off the ground and was developed into a functioning concept. It's well made and makes a good accompaniment, but it should have been a little longer. Regardless, interviews with Genesis P. Orridge, Bachir Attar, Robin Rimbaud, and others involved with the production are featured. In addition to the program, 2 Psychic TV videos are featured. Both are in the random, cut-up visual style typically seen in their work. One video is for the Hyperdelic remix of Godstar (which is really just a longer cut, not so much a 'remix'), and the other is the rarely-seen Scared To Live, which features a great deal of William S. Burroughs footage. The brief interview with Quentin Crisp shows some of his more strange and unusual insights into the whole preceding. Clips from other Music Video Distributor releases can be found in a special section, and some of the clips include Goth Box, Christian Death Live, and Better Living Through Circuitry. If I had any complaints, it would be the awkward set-up of the chapter stops, which are out of order and don't really cover the whole show; there are also no chapters for the documentary.

Extras Grade: B-

 

Final Comments

Time's Up is easily worth checking out if you're even remotely interested in these bands. I haven't liked Psychic TV's direction over the last few years, but they've made up for their flaws by putting together a concert obviously designed to be pure entertainment. The poor audio quality might turn off some people, but how often do fans of these kinds of artists get good videos to watch? Almost never, so you might as well take advantage of the positive aspects of this interesting musical event.

 


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