SKINNY PUPPY *** “Last Rights” <i> Nettwerk/Capitol</i>
Skinny Puppy, an uncommonly popular death-disco band from Vancouver, Canada, plays dance music that nobody dances to and bellows gloomy manifestoes that no one understands. Skinny Puppy auteur Nivek Ogre, who sings, writes most of the songs and probably puts together the band’s stage show down to the last gnarled twig, was the first “industrial” rock star, tortured, pale and emaciated, howling nightmarishly distorted poetry into the void.
The flip side of “Last Rights,” Skinny Puppy’s most accessible record by far, is a moody, vocal-less stretch of synthesizer-laced musique concrete that would earn a solid B-plus as a term project in any electronic-composition class in the land. It bears a certain similarity to early Human League instrumental projects.
But on the first side, Ogre’s strangled voice somehow seems like an instrument as expressive as Sinatra’s, textured and nuanced, oddly melodic within the album’s expanded song structures. It’s an enormously ambitious work, and it mostly comes off. “Last Rights” is music for gray afternoons, beautiful and richly layered, full of borrowed scraps of sound and modal electronic hooks that catch in the mind like Velcro.
Albums are rated on a scale of one star (poor) to four (excellent).
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