Release date: Out Now
Price: $12.17 / £10.25
Produced by: ohGr
Composed by: Kevin Ogilvie, Mark Walk
Music and Vocals by: Kevin Ogilvie, Mark Walk
Tags: Post-industrial, industrial, electronic
ohGr’s fourth album, Undeveloped, proves an offspring of the former three. However, does balancing the lighter tone of Welt and Sunnypsyop with the darker aspects of Devils in My Details benefit or detract from this release?
Long ago Skinny Puppy frontman, Nivek Ogre, conceived of a new, musical project. He wanted to work with some of his peers in a band called Welt. Sadly, due to licensing and schedule issues, this was never to happen. He shelved his dream. By the time Skinny Puppy had gone on hiatus, Welt had been taken as a band name. Nevertheless, Ogre (Kevin Ogilvie) determined to pursue his dream as a solo project.
I say solo, but Ogilvie is supported by guitarist, Mark Walk, who later supported Skinny Puppy in their triumphant return. Adding confusion to the whole affair is Kevin’s choice in naming the new project. Since Last Rights, Ogilvie had developed a habit for wordplay and puns in song titles. This trend not only bled into the song listings but that actual name of his new project. ohGr was born.
In 2001, the first album, Welt, was in many respects an attempt at what Ogilvie wanted to achieve years ago. Songs that had been written previously were finally given expression in this début album. Already ohGr had distinguished itself from Skinny Puppy with a lighter, more comedic tone. Granted that sense of humor is still quite dark. Ogilvie also brings a more accessible pop sensibility to the song writing, as well as adopting several tropes from hip hop, namely a machine gun-like approach to rhythmic vocals. Stand out tracks include Minus and Cracker, the latter a scathing criticism on the lack of originality in modern music.
Sunnypsyop followed in 2003. It carried on most of what started with Welt, though many felt it suffered from the usual dip in quality associated with second albums. Still, the humor and pop trends remain in force. JaKo addresses the many issues surrounding Michael Jackson while WaTergaTe simultaneously addresses politics and the environment. Stand out tracks include maJiK and DoG, the latter a wink at Skinny Puppy while also implying submissive sexuality.
It took five more years before the release of Devils in My Details, which turned out to be an entirely different animal. While originally meant to follow in the footsteps of the previous albums, certain events in Ogilvie’s life led the song writing down a darker turn. DIMD is a concept album. Each song bleeds into the next, warranting a single, continuous listen. Ogilive got horror icon, Bill Mosley, to read several pieces in between songs like Feelin’ Chicken and Whitevan. Ogilvie had formed a close bond with Mosley while on the set of Repo: the Genetic Opera around that time.
The latest album, Undeveloped, somehow merges the approach of the first two albums with the darker tone of the third. This blend of the dark and the poppy creates an entirely new sound. As usual, the hip hop vocal style is supported by strong beats and precise guitars. The new addition is an anthemic quality stemming from the use of chants, cheers, and so on. Crash and the single, Tra Gek, are two examples
Pissage contains the coarse distortion and lumbering, lurch and crunch style from DMID, yet adds swelling synth pads to raise it to that next level. Contrasting this is Bellew which has a minimal synth, almost bubblegum quality. It is only Ogilvie’s peculiar vocal style that separates this track from ordinary synth pop. If you are looking for something for the dance floor, Hollow offers a strong beat and catchy melody. Plus the reference to a donkey show adds just a dash of ironic fun.
Several conceptual elements remain as well, namely in the introductions to 101 and Crash. The centrally placed Typer appears to be the keystone of the album, yet seems at odds with the other content. Typer is little more than cacophony, a typewriter, and near indistinct vocals. While this would work as an interlude, intro, or outro in adding some atmosphere, four minutes is far too long to devote to such an exercise. It loses interest after a minute.
Along with Tra Gek and the hidden track, Collidoskope, Comedown represents the best this new direction has to offer. Each delivers that pop hook to get you singing along while simultaneously containing that dark edge. Screw Me, Animalist and Nitwitz round off the album nicely, each being a strong track in turn. Precious little here should be skipped.
Overall Undeveloped proves once again Ogilvie’s penchant for irony. The album is, for the most part, well structured. Aside from Typer there is really no missed beat. Undeveloped presents a plethora of dark delights. If you like bubbly tracks, if you like dreary dirges, if you like angry beats, there is at least one song for you. The greatest achievement is how it all ties together. Ogilvie’s distinctive vocals bind the tracks like glue, proving how his is arguably the most identifiable voice in the underground, post-industrial scene. One wonders how much further ohGr can develop.