The band's 1981 gig in San Francisco is captured on this essential reissue.
Throughout the show, Genesis P-Orridge seemed to redefine rockstar charisma, taking the nastiest, most sardonic sides of John Lennon, Iggy Pop and John Lydon above and beyond, adding a dash of sadistic schoolmaster, and prefiguring the bona fide cult leader he eventually became with Thee Temple Ov Psychick Youth, which formed that year. He coaxes and teases the audience, most obviously in his intro to the Throbbing Gristle favourite "Persuasion," a psychedelic analogy for social control but also just prurience. It's horrible, predatory sleaze, but the audience lap it up. In turn, P-Orridge relishes turning the creepy into the consensual, the horrific into the pleasurable.
But it's by no means The Genesis Show: Chris Carter, Cosey Fanni Tutti and Peter "Sleazy" Christopherson generate extraordinary sounds. Often they're unplaceable, as with the opening of "Circle Of Animals," a monstrous growl that could quite easily be Sunn O))), or the many blurred reverberations that you can still hear echoing through Rabit, Regis and Amnesia Scanner. Other times you can recognise guitar, or the kind of grossly processed drum machines heard in the work of Powell or Jamal Moss. There are no melodic hooks—just rhythm, chanting, noise: a pure accumulation of intensity that leads up to "Discipline," which, for all the sound's harshness, was bizarrely funky, too.
It's impossible to know what was going through the hive mind of a band for whom too many drugs and too many dark thoughts were only a starting point, and who were hell-bent on going as far beyond everyday experience as possible. Whether you subscribe to the occult thinking that fuelled this sound, or whether you are just concerned with sound itself, there's no denying its focus and power. This was only a beginning in many ways—"Sleazy" in Coil, Genesis P-Orridge in Psychic TV and Chris & Cosey would all go on to do incredible things after Throbbing Gristle. But as a final statement, the band's reformation from 2004-10 notwithstanding, Mission Of Dead Souls is a phenomenal document of what must have been a phenomenal gig.