Repo His Genetic Opera
When he’s in the not-so-friendly confines of Skinny Puppy, Nivek Ogre helps create music for nightmares. When he breaks away to his ohGr project, at least as of 2008’s Devils in My Details, there seems to be more pop and vaguely more accessible stagecraft at play. Now, however, the new album unDeveloped doubles down on the theatrics, and there are times where Ogre’s act seems better suited for Broadway than for brooding.
In between blistered synth loops and disturbing samples of 911 calls, this release has awkward moments such as Ogre and a female counterpart screaming the over-the-top refrain “Who do I have to fuck? I don’t know!” Two tracks, “Collidoskope” and “typer,” take synergy to an absurd level and repeat nomenclature and sound from the ohGr website. There’s plenty of dense martial synthpop and paranoid inspiration, but the surprise endings and segues among the detuned chants and politicized poetry make unDeveloped seem like the soundtrack to some cracked production of Rent.
To ohGr’s credit, with a few well-placed radio edits the back half of unDeveloped features a bunch of stuff that deserves much wider exposure. “bellew” finds Ogre alternately channeling Public Image Ltd. and Depeche Mode, while the solid “traGek” has verse-chorus-bridge structure we rarely acknowledge in his catalog. He may abhor such concepts in theory and practice, but you gotta speak to a whole lot of kids if they’re gonna fill your coffers, and this only helps him diversify his sonic portfolio.
Still, there are too many high-school musical moments at the front and the very end of unDeveloped. ohGr—well, maybe it’s just Nivek Ogre himself who takes some of this material way too seriously. It sorta makes you feel that you’re absolved from doing the same.