Skinny Puppy | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Skinny Puppy 

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The tangled goth-industrial lineage that began in the 70s with Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire was cut short circa the rise of Nirvana. Al Jourgensen had already pillaged the best of the Front 242 "new beat" sound and shackled it to monochromatic thrash, leaving Trent Reznor to scrounge the leftovers. Psychic TV abruptly disintegrated in 1992, and that same year Skinny Puppy, the most underrated and influential of the lot, released Last Rights, a bewildering blizzard of baleful angst and a resounding postmortem on the whole movement. Its future-primitive collage of techno-industrial musique concrete contained just two or three actual songs (though they were very good ones), and this nearly hitless design came across like a kiss-off to the band's teenybopper fans. Then in 1995 the fatal overdose of producer and keyboardist Dwayne Goettel--partway through the recording of a halfhearted follow-up, The Process--drove the last nail in. Almost a decade later, though, Cevin Key and Nivek Ogre are still alive, perhaps to their own surprise, and walking the earth pushing an unlooked-for new Skinny Puppy release, The Greater Wrong of the Right (SPV). Predictably, the boys are playing catch-up with their progeny here--Tool, Fear Factory, Marilyn Manson--but like Bowie's Outside the album makes more of doubly recycled ideas than should be possible. Nivek's relatively untreated "singing" voice may startle longtime fans, but the change actually complements the cold, hard, clean mix--it's almost like updated EBM, in contrast to the oversaturated miasma of Last Rights. "Empte" augments Puppy's signature sound with the breakbeats it always seemed to be crying out for, and "Neuwerld" may be the band's best combination of visceral menace and coherent politics since "First Aid" back in '87. Otto Von Schirach opens. Friday 11/19, 8 PM, Congress Theater, 2135 N. Milwaukee, 312-559-1212, $25. All ages.

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