By: Dennis M. Kelly
OhGr does it again! The man, Ogre and Mark Walk, just cannot be stopped when it comes to creating fresh sound scapes that are capable of filling the lush, extravagant and deeply twisted walls of insanity. An electronic symphony of psychotic sounds surrounding your psyche and superimposing strings all pulled by the master, Ogre.
The birth of ohGr was actually in 1995 when Ogre recorded “Welt” for Rick Rubin’s American Recordings, however, it was not until 1999 when he was free of contractual obligations that he could finally release the album. Instead of just releasing it, Ogre went back into the studio and updated the recordings. In 2001, Ogre signed with Spitfire Records and released “Welt”.
All of ohGr’s previous works expanded on realms and ideas never previously explored on any Skinny Puppy album including some truly unique vocal styles never heard anywhere. In fact, as stated in the press release, on the “Devils in My Details” album, Ogre introduced characters and a story line into his writing that is now being taken further in his latest release “unDeveloped”.
Lyrically, the album seems rooted in today’s societal problems, asking “what have we become?” and “What have we done” in the song “crash” that talks about Michael Jackson’s death and includes the 911 audio ahead of the track. There is a sense of grim finality with the line “No where left to run” (also from crash) and it really seems to echo a lot of what is going on in the world today. No matter where you are, there is just something bad happening somewhere and no one is immune. There are also many references to hollow people, being full of shit and the truth being hard to find throughout the album.
Musically, it is always amazing to hear what sounds they will use within the music and therein lies the continual fascination. There are many layers in each song that form the perfect balance to Ogre’s voice. It is a sound that has been perfected long, long ago and keeping it fresh is the key that he seems effortless in doing. The track “hollow” has a great dance sound and he always redefines his own limits especially against people’s expectations.
Ogre is an artist in every true sense of the word, and with him, it is never just about what he says, but how he says it and more importantly, how he presents it. The vocal effects he employs are every bit as much of who he is as an artist as his own voice and it is obvious that a great deal of forethought goes into the emphasis of each and every line in each and every song. That has always been one of the biggest elements that has appealed to me since his early days in Skinny Puppy and it lives on through to today.
Surprisingly, there are many choruses that are not only catchy, but able to be sung along with. Tracks like “comeDown” and “screwMe” are two that almost beg to be sung along with. “Screw me, I like it” I mean, who wouldn’t sing along to that?
By far though, the best song for me on the album is “pissage,” fully using every creative aspect at its disposal and not going overboard in any way. In fact, I suppose if there were anything to critique about the album, it would have to be that the song lengths are a little too short for my likes. It would be great to see more musical exploration in some of the songs. There is so much potential within each song to build on the great base that the song exists on, but it doesn’t go beyond that, unfortunately. In some respects, I was spoiled by all the Skinny Puppy remixes and extended versions that they used to do years ago, so, it is hard to get used to not having that happen now.
As the “unDeveloped” album relates to ohGr’s previous albums, it fits right in and as the press release states, “comes full circle musically” and it is so true. It has elements of each of the previous albums and even reminiscent bits of some Skinny Puppy, but is definitely new, fresh and a great addition to ohGr’s catalog.
As a long-time Skinny Puppy/ohGr fan, I highly recommend picking up the album; I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.
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