Keyboard
October 1998

Ogre - More than a Skinny Puppy

All has been quite on the Ogre front since industrial pioneers Skinny Puppy decided to call it quits back in 1995. It's not that he hasn't been busy. Since that time, the former Puppy frontman has toured with KMFDM and recorded an album with Ruby producer Mark Walk as Welt, which has sadly been left languishing in the vaults due to American Recordings' financial difficulties. Luckily, Ogre turned his attention to a new collaborative project with Martin Atkins under the banner Rx.

On their debut Bedside Toxicology (Invisible), Ogre and Atkins explore more subdues moments than the industrial angst for which the vocalist is known. The album opens with an appropriately skewed acoustic rendition of Syd Barrett's 'Scarecrow' and explores a variety of sonic worlds through such numbers as the tribal-techno romp 'Idle Contract' and the eerie 'Crackhead Waltz,' which fashions a nightmarish lullaby from layers of sing-song vocals, percussion, and a transposed orchestral sample.

Toxicology straddles the line between industrial aggression and ambient fluidity. Ogre removed the distortion from his vocals, allowing you to hear him as he really is. He also began composing some of the music on a acoustic guitar before going to the synths, opting for a balance between organic and electronic to keep things fresh. 'The best thing about this record for me was that it was a record where I could pick up an acoustic guitar and go out in the studio and sing a Syd Barrett song,' he remarks. 'I've always to do that, because to me the mystification about music is gone, unfortunately. I don't have that child-like 'wow.' At the same time, I still have the wow about certain characters in music, and Syd Barrett fits in at the top of my list of those types of characters.'

The new Rx platter was initially recorded with modest means - including a Minimoog, Sequential Pro-One, E-mu Morpheus, Roland Jupiter-8, Clavia Nord Lead, and Digidesign's SampleCell with Sound Designer. Emagic Logic Audio and Opcode Studio Vision Pro were used as well. Atkins, who did most of the programming and sample gathering, used an old Mac. The duo did a lot of editing. 'There are some classical samples that have been run through gates and triggered off things, but it's pretty low-tech,' Ogre modestly admits. The album began to really take shape in the mixing and mastering phase. 'Martin did an amazing job with all the drum sampling and looping stuff. Chris [Greene] at ASI did an amazing job in mastering the record. It has space, it has cracks you can crawl into and get lost in.' Ogre also praises programmer Lee 'Bagman' Fraser, who contributed to the album.

At ASI, Greene helped Ogre and Atkins sculpt the album further with his state-of-the-art digital studio. They mixed a majority of the songs and did post-production on some tracks engineered previously by Jason McNinch and Scott Ramsayer. 'We used an expanded [Digidesign] Pro Tools|24 system to create a virtual 256-point, 24-bit pathway mixing console to mix this album,' explains Greene. 'We utilized cutting-edge TDM plug-ins to create some unique textures.' Included were custom tape delays and tube effects, lo-fi plug-ins, and a lot of 'high-end pro audio equipment and plug-ins such as tube compressors, tube mic-preamps, and class-A EQs to keep the fidelity pristine as the album was tracked.'

Ogre and Walk hope to enter the studio soon to record another Welt album and, with any luck, some of their initial material can be saved from obscurity and updated for this release. 'I'm really excited about working with Mark, because he has incredible studio techniques and a grasp on the Pro Tools system as a sequencer. I've never seen anybody work like that before. He's getting some amazing sounds out of all this stuff. He's taking stuff off Nords, off Korg Prophecies, and twisting it even further.' Given the more aggressive nature of Welt, and using the current Rx material as a sonic barometer, we should be in for a wild ride.

-Bryan Reesman