Temperate Mix

Remixers should be allowed to use as little of an original track as they desire; there does not seem to be much point in handing out songs to creative producers only to insist that they be returned largely unaltered.

Few cult bands can claim as strong a temporary hold on a genre, a

culture and a lifestyle as Skinny Puppy. Equal parts industrial rock,

electronic body music, art terrorists, far-left political activists,

internal squabblers and smack addicts, the Vancouver "group" maintained

a fractured existence for almost 15 years. At their peak, from around

1988-1993, there was no one who matched the intensity of their music,

lyrics or visuals. Fans of industrial music danced to Nitzer Ebb, Front

242 or Meat Beat Manifesto, and they moshed to Ministry, but when they

wanted to vent, they did so to Skinny Puppy.

Many of Puppy's contemporaries -- the aforementioned NE, 242 and Meat

Beat, as popular shorthand recognizes them -- could merit a remix album

that would demonstrate their influence on the techno-rave-electronica

scene that has thrived across Europe and ensconced itself in the

American underground. It seems appropriately perverse, then, that the

now-defunct (and, in the case of heroin overdose Dwayne Goettel,

deceased) Skinny Puppy should take that route instead. The group's

relentlessly harsh rhythms, heavily processed vocals, awkward tempos and

visceral anger were always going to be

difficult to turn into friendly late-'90s club cuts, which is probably

why vocalist and recovered addict Nivek Ogre (Kevin Ogilvie) and

multi-instrumentalist cEVIN Key (Kevin Crompton) have opted for

essentially more of the same. The opening cuts on this Remix Dys

Temper -- "Rodent" (remixed by Ken "hiwatt" Marshall), "Addiction"

(by Gunter Schultz of KMFDM) and Ogre's own new version of "Smothered

Hope" -- are far from radical reconstructions and offer but minor steps

toward the dance floor; they are essentially post-industrial producers'

post-industrial adaptions of classic industrial tracks.

Rhys Fulber, one half of Front Line Assembly (whose other half, Bill

Leeb, was once a member of Skinny Puppy -- there are never more than

three degrees of separation in this back catalogue), bravely attempts to

put a groove to "Worlock," as does Chris Vrenna, formerly of Nine Inch

Nails (a group influenced by Puppy if ever there was one) on the always

approachable "Assimilate." Original NIN mixer and famed On-U Sound dub

producer Adrian Sherwood offers a modestly tame version of the

classically raw and powerful "Tin Omen."

Among the younger acts reworking what one assumes were some sort of

inspirations to them are God Lives Underwater, Autechre, Neotropic and

the Deftones. They all seem to have been instructed to keep the song in

question close to its original format -- most of the original Puppy

vocals are still present throughout this album, as are an unusually high

percentage of chord patterns and textures for a remix project.

Almost as an afterthought, at the rear end of Remix Dys Temper

come the only real remixes: Guru's (of Gang Starr) "Censor" and Josh

Wink's "Chainsaw." The former is almost comical, with Ogre's screamed,

ranted and tightly processed vocals aided by acoustic guitars and

bullying a gentle hip-hop beat into bloody submission. Wink works hard

to get a real groove going, and while his choice of beat is more subtle

than even Guru's, it manages to complement Ogre remarkably well.

A likely (and lively) purchase for those who still treasure Skinny

Puppy's influence and former predominance, Remix Dys Temper sadly

does little to bring new fans into the fold. Remixers should be allowed

to use as little of an original track as they desire; there does not

seem to be much point in handing out songs to creative producers only to

insist that they be returned largely unaltered. For a group that pushed

artistic freedoms to the limit while alive, Skinny Puppy appear to have

been surprisingly restrictive caretakers of their own legend.