Okay, it’s no Welt and it’s definitely no Too Dark Park (that’s going down elsewhere right now, I hear). Well damn. So what’s the deal with Sunnypsyop? Underneath the surface, the gleaming electronics and vocal freakouts, it’s a little disappointing almost. Fun? Fucking hell yeah. Groovy? Of course. But it feels like expectations and indeed “the bar” are being lowered. It’s not VivisectVI, it’s even considerably less portentous than the first Ohgr platter. But maybe that’s the fucking point. Maybe Sunnypsyop is the sound of freedom. Of casting off the weight of the past, and of fans’ expectations. Maybe Sunnypsyop is Nivek Ogre’s John Wesley Harding. No, no scratch that. That was the first Ohgr record. Sunnypsyop is his Nashville Skyline. The one that confused everyone, that got unfairly dismissed as slight at the time, but in a coupla years, those same dismissers were ripping it off left, right and center. Yeah. You know what, I think it is. An album of emancipation and joy, rather than reflection of artistic torment. Simple only on the surface. Mmm hmm.
So what’s Ogre SAYING with this record? What’s the theme, the underlying story, the parables of suffering and addiction and disease? There’s no grand storyline here, but there are unifying threads. Here’s me paraphrasing the hidden message in this record: “Hey listen up guys, I survived and now I wanna show you that I can make some cool electronic dance music. Just listen. LISTEN. No needles, no masks, just listen. You’re not listening! Goddamnit, sit down and put these headphones on. This is where I’m out right now. Join me. Dance.”
So it’s totally old-school experimental electro along the lines of Fad Gadget, Heaven 17, Depeche Mode, poppier Foetus, Erasure, Japan, Pete Shelley, the Residents, the Normal, etc. — with a noticeable absence of vocal trickery.
“HiLo” is a burst of left-field new wave disco, with a chirpy drum-machine and an uber-infectious chorus of “Are you high?/Are you low?” that sticks to yer dancin’ feet like glue. “MaJik” hybrids up the opaque metal of fellow Canadians Voivod, Front 242 and a dash of the Prodigy — man, what a rush. “JaKo” is altogether slinkier and sexier, taking it’s time, slowly unfolding and it’s got echoes of Depeche Mode’s towering “Walking In My Shoes” ringing throughout. “ChemTale” returns to darker, more familiar territories with a white noise music nightmare: pounding percussion, sickly loops and high-pitched cries that sound like aliens in that one b-movie where they’re all being held in that underground facility and being dissected. Here Ogre’s vocals are suitably harsh and atonal. (There’s yer lost puppy sighting, I guess.) “DoG” is pretty close to brilliant, propelled along by a Stooges-dumb-awesome lockstep drum machine beat and stabs of icy synth, over which Ogre intones wearily about “feeling like a dog,” and that’s it. It’s this type of minimal beauty that makes electro seem like the new punk; sequenced in ten minutes, enduring for years. “iOvnOw” is probably as close to a personal manifesto as we’re every going to get from Ogre, post-descent-into-hell, and it’s got some cool breakbeats skittering all over the second “movement” of the song. “SunBurn” rules it with white noise and tightly orchestrated oscillating percussion and electronics, over which Ogre-as-Speak-And-Spell murmurs whatever you want him to. Metal machine music for the masses. “EnDai” is pretty basic electro-funk, but then slowed way down and ground down around the edges, it sounds all warped and malfunctioning, jarring with the catchy chorus of “this will never end/ this has got to end.” Oh yeah, he raps a little bit at the end too. Either that or it’s a Stereo MCs sample. And with that…