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Complete Skinny Puppy CD Reviews ================================ Bites/Remission (1984-86) **** """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""" Twisting synthesizer technology into contortions never intended, Skinny Puppy create groundbreaking (for its time) music combining driving and unusual beats with atmospheric arrangements -- sometimes lush, sometimes stark and bleak -- and a couple of trademark confrontational vocal sounds. This consolidation of early work runs the gamut from beautiful and haunting ("Film") to harsh and abrasive ("Solvent," "The Choke"). Mind: The Perpetual Intercourse (1986) **** """""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" Essentially more of the same, but with the extremes more thoroughly explored. "Love," an instrumental, manages to be simultaneously dreamlike and anonymously disturbing, its menace possibly coming from the mere knowledge of what its creators have proven capable of. It's like reading a love sonnet written by a mass murderer. Elsewhere on the album: In "Dig It," Skinny Puppy make their first deliberate effort to bring their abrasive sound to the dancefloor. It is successful. In "God's Gift (Maggot)," we get what could very well be the most disturbing and jarring piece of music ever recorded up to that point. Again, the disc shows a lot of diversity. Cleanse, Fold, & Manipulate (1987) *** """"""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""""" Here, Skinny Puppy make a move towards more powerful songwriting, both in terms of lyrical depth and thematic instrumentation. Unfortunately, the disc suffers from a bit of lethargy; the songs for the most part lack the energy and fire of the band's previous work. This suits tracks like "The Mourn," with its imagery of deceptively calm but malevolent terror. But in too many cases, the tracks plod beat after beat until the end. ViViSect VI (1988) ***** """"""""""""""""""""""""" This is where the Puppy boys get it right. "Dogshit," the first track, sets the tone for the album. We see that they have successfully united the strength of songwriting they sought with the bombast and emotional turmoil of previous work. It's a brilliant disc. Some of their most advanced, most jarringly syncopated rhythms are found here. At the same time, Skinny Puppy continue their descent into total grunge by distorting virtually everything; at times we hear overdriven drums, synths, vocals, and occasional guitar adding edge to the mix. "Testure," an attempt at something of a "normal" song, is a bit stilted and doesn't quite work. But otherwise, this disc is outstanding from end to end. Rabies (1989) * """""""""""""""" Skinny Puppy, having pushed the sonic envelope to extremes with full- frequency sound and complex arrangements, decide to strip down their sound a bit, with disastrous results. Accompanied by "Weird Al" Jourgensen, they attempt to remanufacture their sound with mundane rhythm tracks and guitar cliches. "Fascist Jock Itch" and "Tin Omen" come off as noisy but empty attempts at techno-punk thrash. Tracks like "Rodent" are meant to be minimalistic, perhaps, but end up sounding merely unfinished. Only one track, "Worlock," offers a glimpse of the band's brilliance, featuring strong imagery, great lyrics, and a captivating arrangement. The rest, from the bland "Hexonxonx" to the lame and self-indulgent 10-minute "Spahn Dirge," is a waste. Too Dark Park (1990) ***** """"""""""""""""""""""""""" Like a gruesome ghoul creeping back into its subterranean lair, Skinny Puppy return to the musical ground they abandoned. And this time, the monster's fangs drip venom. _Too_Dark_Park_ is like _ViViSect_VI_, only faster, angrier, and broader-reaching. Guitar is used where it fits - on the crazed "T.F.W.O.," for example - and Puppy's glorious electronic noise reigns everywhere else. "Grave Wisdom" is as driving and vocally riveting as anything they've done. The ominous edge of "Spasmolytic" shows that the demons, while not always on the attack, are constantly lurking around the corner. A brilliant and breathtaking work, _Too_Dark_Park_ is a series of powerful songs combining to make a powerful album. Last Rights (1992) no stars """""""""""""""""""""""""""" The low standards of songwriting here suggest that, at last, Skinny Puppy may have run out of ideas. There are plenty of dark, atmospheric virtual spaces on this disc. And there's bombast and grunge. But not one of the tracks is really remarkable in any way. "Killing Game" is another weak go at a "normal" song. "Download" is sort of an electronic "Spahn Dirge Part II," another self-indulgent 10+ minute opus, this one a tiresome exercise in sampler memory consumption. Of the 10 tracks, 3 are lame reworkings of previous material and one is the abovementioned thrown-together sample series. That makes almost half of the disc B-side fare (or worse). And that's the better stuff. _Last_Rights_ is a plodding series of mumbled vocals and sloppy samples through reverb. You could listen to it start to finish, and when it's over, not really remember being knocked over by anything.

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