Industrial powerhouse Skinny Puppy’s vocalist Nivek Ogre was in Sacramento at the Colonial Theater on Saturday to support a local performance of “Repo! The Genetic Opera,” a film in which he played a major role. Ogre also discussed Skinny Puppy’s fourteenth album entitled “hanDover,” which is set to be released at the end of this month.
Cevin Key, Nivek Ogre, Ken “Hiwatt” Marshall, and Mark Walk have all teamed up once more to bring electronic music fans another album that crosses the borders of experimental territory and moves into the surreal.
As a whole, the record conveys a sense of sadness, melancholy, and hopelessness. Tracks such as “Ovirt,” “AshAs” and “Cullorblind” set a slower pace for “hanDover,” and hearken back to the sounds of “The Greater Wrong of the Right,” released in 2004.
“It’s written from the perspective of someone who doesn’t have apathy necessarily, but is resigned to what’s happening,” explained Ogre. “It’s a bit hopeless. And it’s a bit how we feel as a band really. It’s a bit jittery and unsure of what’s next.”
“Brownstone” is an interesting tune that marks a departure from Ogre’s signature discordantly dark and synthetic vocal style. The stream of consciousness raving is not only spoken in a higher pitched tone, but carries the same sense of pleasant incoherence that is reminiscent of some of the chants on the OhGr record “Devils in My Details.”
“It was a one-take rant,” Ogre said. “There was no editing on the vocals. And really even that many vocal effects on it. It was all a weird voice that I got in to. And then a stream of consciousness rant, which I was very happy with.”
According to Ogre, “Brownstone” the song marked the conceptualization of Mr. Brownstone, the character of his creation. While "Brownstone" as a song is still as mysterious as Mr. Brownstone the character, Ogre did offer some interesting insight as to his inspirations behind the track.
“I used to love a song off the Velvet Underground album ‘White Light White Heat’ called ‘The Gift.’ Basically it’s the story of a boyfriend sending himself to his girl in a package. And when he arrives at the end, she’s so excited that she punches it open with a big pair of scissors and it goes right through the box, right through his head and into his brain. And the last thing is little blobs of blood floating out of the box. So it was very much in that spirit.”
Another song of note is the deliciously angry and pulsing “Village.” Its catchy chorus and raging energy set it apart from “hanDover’s” calm and collected tracks and give it the feel of a musical tantrum.
“I think in a lot of ways there’s a sense of impotency in the anger because no matter how much anger one puts in, it’s only negating what’s going to happen further in a lot of ways,” Ogre elaborated. “It’s allowing the negation to continue. ‘Village’ is a bit scornful and a bit condescending in the sense of, ‘Ha ha ha. You asked for it. You got it.’”
Like most other Skinny Puppy records, the lyrics require careful attention to decipher. They often seem to not make any sense, but at the same time, they make perfect sense within the context of the song.
“I went back into more stream of consciousness lyric writing,” Ogre said. “What I used to do as a child was sit down and just write a page of words and then pick out phrases and put those together. So I kind of went back to that for this record. Which again kind of gave me the jittery feeling, so I didn’t know if what I was writing made any sense at all ultimately. But it did. To me anyway.”
Skinny Puppy is set to tour in the spring of 2012. According to Ogre, the band will be going “farther than we’ve ever gone before,” which means Sacramento could be on the roster, although he did not give any solid details on cities the band would visit.