The following text was taken from the liner notes to a compilation album called Viva Los Angeles II. This record was released in the winter of 1990 on Viva Records. It's an 18 song compilation documenting the mid/late 1980s Los Angeles underground rock scene on 2 vinyl LPs. It is accompanied by a thick booklet that includes some information, photos and discographies running from 1986 to 1989 for each of the bands on the record. Interestingly neither Psi Com nor Jane's are featured on the album, although many of their early contemporaries are, such as Kommunity FK, Savage Republic, and Red Temple Spirits.
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The image on the cover of PSI-COM's CITY OF NINE GATES is the fatal elegance
of the "Psychic Command", an exotic postcard in the desert, an ecstatic
fetish, a mass of experiences for a secret collage. The perfect coherence of
PSI-COM in the TRANCE PORT operation is clearly shown (TRANCE 8/1984 REGION/LA
MANTRA) in the evident intention of mind expansion as well as the "transmission"
and refined mixing of trance elements from various sources: splendid acid-songs,
tending towards ambient sound, with bare lyrics, screamed or cried, but without
rage or pain; a ghostly and joyful expression at one of the borders of the Californian
underground, keeping one harshly focused eye on everyday models, the other beyond
the border, flying towards the desert, or in the deepest ocean, or in the abyss
of the skies...
PSI-COM was formed and dissolved in two/three years, in the underground bars and venues of Los Angeles, by four enigmatic guys, able in their live performances to create and project an extraordinary energy: enraptured bodies, dancing rhythmically in a sensual cyclic fluid. The group was composed of "Bones" Duran (guitar), Kelly Wheeler (bass), Aaron Sherer (drums) and Perry Farrell (voice, percussion - the band's "mind", and at that time, the early '80s, a medical student and experimenter in hallucinogenics). There production was limited to WORKTAPE 1 (3 track cassette) and PSI-COM (Mohini Rec. 1985, 5 track 12" LP), plus a live tape including some studio tracks from 83/84.
14th Floor, one of their first songs, is enveloped in gothic English atmosphere
(Joy Division and post), or simply "atmospheres" (remember Dif Juz's
Extractions, or some of the more profound 4AD records?). As in all of PSI-COM's
songs, what strikes the senses is the use of the instruments, including the
voice; the bass is always well defined, intense, powerful, repetitive, and with
the percussion, forms the rigid bone-structure of the tracks, creating a hard
counterpoint with the voice, and with the very original, always distorted yet
extremely liquid guitar, a noise/roar in the background. In short, a free circle
of voices and guitar, following and stressing each other, corresponds to the
strong schematism in the rhythmic structure (power, tribalism, trance), but
it is the voice that improvises, distorts, flying in a free mantra (in for e.g.
City of Nine Gates, Winds) while the guitar, in a very original way, goes forward
and backward on every single chord (Eastern technique with pop/rock resonances),
revealing the magic of the sounds from their opposites (the high chords from
the low and the low from the high). Quite a common pattern in PSI-COM's productions,
where it is also possible to distinguish other influences (CAN and other German
psychedelic styles, the first gothic/punk of DEATH IN JUNE, or little dashes
of typically '70s hard rock).
Their many different sources reveal a "cultured" attitude, a taste for artifice and for masks, a spontaneous technical ability and a scattering of exotic sounds, produced by every kind of percussion (sticks, bells, cymbals etc.). P. Farrell is also the author of all the lyrics, stark songs alternating with choruses which are almost always shouted, or else similar to laments/prayers, violent and blinding images, hyperreal, claustrophobic ("poor mrs Johnson/ carries her baby/wrapped in a paper bag/ hear her cry through the wall/ playing that tired song/ I live on the 14th floor/ I never go out no more/ yo-oooh yo-oooh/ so withdrawn am I..." 14th Floor); ("it's a short life/ such a short life and now/ is yesterday... a picture that I hold of you/ it has no frame/ every girl I ever loved/ they always seem to look the same... take a final view/ of the world outside/ close the door/ for the final time/ see you sleeping in the snow/ tracing out an angel/ you're my silhouette..." Silhouette, '84).
Cool stammering, hot resonances, an explosive mixture. In '85 the band went adrift, and they all became Hare Khrisna followers except P. Farrell who, it seems, devoted himself to magical research and practices. A group that has little studio activity and works mostly live usually has a short life, it burns itself out ( see AFTERILMAGE). While in Europe "Psychic Television" goes on transmitting rather obsolete programmes, the "Psychic Command" (the terms show all the difference between the two worlds) consumes itself in its own action: one sublimates, the other assaults the market...
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Viva Los Angeles II
CD (Viva 1990)
Kommunity FK - Is It Your Face
Mark Nine - Sun and Shadows
The Rub - A Thousand Days
Savage Republic - Valetta
Marnie - Songs Hurt Me
In the Distance - Migration
Fourwaycross - Let It Come Down
Scott Fraser - The Cool Shades
Shiva Burlesque - Arabesque
Gothic Hut - Rio
17 Pygmies - Under the Freeway
Red Temple Spirits - Rollercoaster
Soul Brothers - Du Bist Käse
Afterimage - Out of Breath
Trotsky Icepick - This Car Is Not Blue
Partly Cloudy - Jihad
Drowning Pool - The Italian Pop Song
Radwaste - War of the Roses