More than their peers or any new-jack pretenders operating in the electronic milieu, charismatic frontman/conceptualist Ogre and electronics avatar Cevin Key—aka Skinny Puppy—have always reacted against the greater consciousness. Their 14th album, hanDover, centers not only on the unbridled greed of the world´s financial organizations and the governments that enable them, but the climate of political impotence which makes people resign their fate, no matter how insidious the situation gets. In typical Puppy form, hanDover finds the duo moving forward while still maintaining that sense of aural discovery that has been a hallmark of their 26-year career.
Aided by longtime associates Ken "Hiwatt" Marshall and Mark Walk, Ogre and Key have delivered an album that mirrors today´s cultural uncertainty. At its most jarring, hanDover feels like digital epilepsy, exchanging the band’s predilection for opaque menace for a trembling, near spasmodic discomfort. The amphetamine glitch-worship on "Gambatte," and the mechanized percolating of "Icktums" (with the refrain of "Worship money, worship nothing") further emulates a societal framework that’s got its foot on the gas pedal on the road toward extinction. Ogre’s twisted fable, "Brownstone" is shored up with twitching synthetics reminiscent of an orgy of hospital equipment. "Village" is an indictment of financial institutions through the prism of the ignorant populace that let them get away with the ruin. ("We’re all made to participate in it, so we’re all in collusion," explains the singer. "It’s your typical Ogre paranoid ditty, complete with tinfoil hat.") The seven-minute "NoiseX" weaves layers of programmed breakbeats into phase-shifted psychedelic vistas to simulate a supercomputer’s ascension into purgatory. Ambience or attack-mode, you make the call.
"Life is taking over and many times, it moves much faster than the music you’re making,” resigns Ogre. “Cevin and I are in a good place for where we are personally—two immature 50-year-olds. [Laughs.] I have no end time until my heart ceases to beat. I remember when we finished [the 1984 debut EP] Remission. I thought, ‘What a great experience to have in my life. I made a record!’ How the work resonates with people today is still a mystery to me."
Actually, it’s not a mystery at all. Skinny Puppy have built a career on the simple tenet that complacency equals collusion. Who are you handing your life over to, these days?