Princess Stomper

5 fundamentally flawed albums you need to own

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Skinny Puppy

5. Skinny Puppy – The Process

The album

Skinny Puppy’s ‘difficult’ eighth album was one of those stories that you couldn’t make up if you were a writer on Hollyoaks. Earthquakes, fires, internal squabbles – it wasn’t the easiest record to make. There were conflicts with the record label – the usual stuff – and Nivek Ogre walked out. Soon after, Dwayne Goettel died from an overdose. The Process got through three producers: Roli Mosimann, Martin Atkins and Dave Ogilvie. It was intended as the band’s final album, though Skinny Puppy eventually reformed in 2000.

The problem

Too many cooks. It sounds like all the members of the band, plus all the production crew, standing in a room together having a blazing row. It’s one thing to have complex arrangements, but this is a traffic jam of loud noises going off at once. It’s a total fucking mess. It sounds like Momentary Lapse Of Reason-era Pink Floyd having a nervous breakdown in a room full of the toys Trent Reznor threw out of his pram.

Why you need to own it

Because this

is followed by this

and I recall that – at the 10-second point of ‘Death’ – we were actually tripping over each other trying to run to the phone to fix up an interview with the band. No amount dicking about on the production side could ruin a song like that. The sheer ferocity, the vitriol, the passion … white hot hate. You could dance to it. “Spiky, black, hard-edged”, monstrous metal riff and a chaotic wall of beats and bleeps, Ogre grunting over the top, some gloriously clashing synth pad, and a chorus you can hum.

Candle plonks a delicious sub-bass dubby little groove beneath Ogre’s usual indignant rambling yelp, stabby riffs and a pretty acoustic guitar line.

‘Blue Serge’ is Puppy’s most accessible track, and was used in a couple of soundtracks. It’s only surprising that it didn’t become as well-known as something like Front 242’s ‘Headhunter’ – though I’d classify this as straight out breakbeat rather than “industrial” in any way. It’s almost impossible not to dance to it, it’s just so damnably bouncy, like that bit on Buffy where they dance themselves to death. It’s compulsive, addictive and imperative. Oh yeah, oh yeah.

On ‘Amnesia’, Ogre foregoes his usual demented hamster squeak in favour of a confident, tuneful vocal delivery. It stands in the midst of chaos and owns it, like Paul Atreides commanding the sky. Finally, it drops back to a single piano line. Beneath the deafening fury of a thousand samples thrown randomly at each other, the strength and simple beauty of the melody win out. It’s like no matter how hard they tried to make The Process suck, they failed.

I’m not going to pretend it’s a perfect album. I’m not going to pretend any of them are perfect albums – they’ve all got something deeply, catastrophically wrong with them – but ignoring them because they don’t have that arbitrary metacritic 100% means missing out on some of the most pleasurable aural experiences of your life. It’s your choice, I guess – I can love them enough for both of us.

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