Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The User's Guide to Skinny Puppy, Part I - Music


When industrial music rose up in the 90's, nearly every kid on the block had a copy of Pretty Hate Machine by Nine Inch Nails. The videos were always on MTV, right next to the ones by Nirvana, and there was this feeling that, somewhere in the airwaves, the cool music, our music (punk, new wave, industrial, ska) was fighting a war against the lame music (hair metal, really bad pop rock, just about everything on VH1) and our side was winning.

Sure, you could be cool by owning a copy of anything by NIN, but the real badasses had a copy of The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste by Ministry. 


If NIN was Poison, Ministry was The Blue Oyster Cult. Sure, Ministry started off sounding a little like pop with their first few albums, including Twitch, but their music matured, became infused with some serious guitar licks, and turned into something so terrifying that if you played either The Mind is a Terrible Thing to Taste or their other album, The Land of Rape and Honey for your parents, they'd scream and burn you and your entire record collection at the stake.

It didn't help that the lead singer and producer, Alien Jourgensen, looked like he'd kick Satan's ass in a fist fight, and then ride his Harley into the sun, firing his M-16 up in the air with a cry of dark victory.

"Do all of you have your Bibles out? Alright, 
let's turn to Matthew 1:18. Now, how is 
the Holy Spirit similar to a V-twin?"

Like the two grumpy old men who sardonically mocked everything lame on The Muppet Show, my friends and I enjoyed watching all of the kids who had kicked our asses a few years ago for wearing a Cure shirt suddenly go around blasting "Head Like a Hole" as if they had a right to. The nerve of those mainstream plebeians, why weren't we consulted?

"They didn't know Psychic TV did a cover of 
'Good Vibrations' by The Beach Boys. 
Ha ha ha! That's funny!"

Beyond Kraftwork and Psychic TV and Throbbing Gristle was Skinny Puppy, and band so out there to even look upon their logos was to be met with confusion. A teacher once asked me if I was advertising for a veterinary clinic, or maybe even a fast food chain for canines who were watching their weight.

One student took a look at a Skinny Puppy t-shirt I had with the same design and logo from the band's Remission album and told me they were offended because a friend of theirs died of cancer. I told them that my grandmother passed away with a sweet smile on her beautiful face wearing a Remission t-shirt listening to Spahn Dirge at full volume, so they could fuck themselves off. 

To be fair, the lead singer of Skinny Puppy 
really does stand out in a crowd.

Skinny Puppy is a band for people who want to listen to the beating, bleeding heart of industrial music with the carapace wide open and the mechanical guts exposed. There are many albums to talk about when you are dealing with this band, so I'm going to start you out with a track from Rabies.

Rabies, 1989.

This is the fifth studio album by Skinny Puppy, and it was produced by Alien Jourgensen, himself. You can tell, because the guitars are blasting all over the place with this album, in contrast to previous LP's like Spasmolytic or Cleanse, Fold and Manipulate, which tended to weave the guitar hooks into the music instead of pounding the instrument onto the tracks like a merciless jackhammer.

Here's "Rodent." It's vintage 'Puppy, somewhat scary, very mechanical, and certainly worth dancing to. If you like guitars, they are here for you, but don't expect "Burning Inside." Instead you are going to enjoy a song that combines beats, samples, synth and aggression to make music you haven't heard before.


1 comment:

  1. Very nice piece of writing, but as a true SP purist/fan boy I need to point out that Spasmolytic isn't an LP but a single from the album Too Dark Park, which came out after Rabies

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