Music and conceptual artist Kevin Ogilvie's been known by a couple names since forming industrial band Skinny Puppy in 1982. As a member of Skinny Puppy, he took the stage name "Nivek Ogre," but these days he's known just as "Ogre," and he's making solo music that deviates from Skinny Puppy's machinistic throb while maintaining the group's dark art aesthetic.
Ogre's latest project is a band called ohGr, which consists of Ogre and fellow Skinny Puppy member Mark Walk. The pair's third album, Devils in My Details (Synthetic Symphony), brims with electronic innovations and intricate soundscapes. Tracks like "Pepper" sound similar to Skinny Puppy's creepy synthetic vibe, and "Shhh" recalls the martial, gritty guitars on many Ministry songs. Other tracks, like "Feelin' Chicken," display the attention to ornate, eclectic composition that separates ohGr from much of Skinny Puppy's canon, working jaunty pianos and tuba blasts into the mix.
The album, though it swings in vibe from upbeat to desolate to predatory to pontifical, is one of Ogre's more personal works. "With Skinny Puppy, the idea was to objectify my mindset and show the world from the outside looking in," Ogre says. "ohGr is more about me exploring my mind and my fantasies, looking inward. It's one of my darkest pieces of work."
Enriching the darkness is actor Bill Moseley ("Chop Top" from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre movies and "Otis" from House of 1000 Corpses), who lends some psycho-hillbilly rants to spoken word bits on the tracks "Psychoreal" and "Timebomb."
Ogre met Moseley on the set of Saw sequels director Darren Bousman's futuristic goth rock opera Repo! The Genetic Opera, where the two were playing the weird, inept sons of Mr. Largo, owner of a company that finances organ transplants and then sends repo men to repossess the organs if their clients don't pay. Ogre and Moseley hit it off, and after filming wrapped, Moseley visited Ogre at his home, bringing along what Ogre says was "a wry and funny and sweet and dirty and strange" poem Moseley had written about them. The two became friends, and now go hiking together.
"[Moseley] gave voice to a higher concept of the record I felt I couldn't touch on," Ogre says. "He was able to speak from a soapbox about politics and being an American, which I can't really do because I'm from Canada."
When Ogre uses the word "concept" in regards to Devils in My Details, he's not doing so lightly. This is definitely a concept record, influenced by precursors like Genesis' The Lamb Lies Down on Broadway and Tales of Mystery and Imagination by the Alan Parsons Project. The concept for Ogre seems to be subtle submersion -- he wants listeners to reconnect with the experience of music.
"We were exploring the ideas of what's the difference between music now and music then. These days, music is easily discarded," Ogre says. "But back then, listening to an album was an interactive experience, with listeners looking at liner notes and cover art. We were exploring what made those records interesting and immersive, and trying to find out what would make a record interesting and immersive today."
"What's interesting and immersive today are video games, " he continues. "They're a conceptual stop-and-start. It's a tactile experience...we used the idea of certain sound designs in video games. All of the segways between the songs are musical interludes."
The live show is also meant to be a conceptual journey, from beginning to end. Ogre's been touring for the record since early November, and will make the final stop of his tour at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe on Monday, December 22.
"The show has theatrical elements," Ogre says. "It's not bloody like Skinny Puppy, but more Velvet Underground or vaudeville-esque. It's a bit of an exploration for me." -- Niki D'Andrea
ohGr is scheduled to perform with American Memory Project on Monday, December 22, at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe. Tickets cost $20 in advance and $22 day-of-show. Visit www.ohgr.com for more information.