"The Dragon Experience" archive comes from a dream Cevin Key had in his youth and the cover art is meant to express this concept. Holding a sonic lightning rod, 13 year old Spencer Elden acts as conductor of the high voltage symphony. Described by Key as representing part eight of the "From the Vault" series, yet volume seven in the then and now concept
"Back and Forth" series.
The lowly intro opener beckons "Diagnosis" and "Destructor Beam" which can be seen as true Skinny Puppy-like demos. Note that this is the earliest Cevin Key solo material we've heard since "No More Ghosts" in 1992. Some tracks almost seem flat in parts ("Shortwave Connector" & "Metamorphosis (Theme from the Trial)") as we're not hearing the musical input of D Rudolph Goettel. He appeared soon after in the Skinny Puppy timeline. Track five builds much like today's Download music but without the textured feel. No defined vocals are present as just samples compliment the warm analogue flow as in "Maniac Shuffle", and "Dr Seymour" lend itself perfectly to Puppy fans.
While prerelease studio reports compared the third "Brap" compilation release, we find more synthetics and less drumming than on "Brap 3". While not the earliest Puppy recordings, it serves as a viable look for any industrial music fan at how things were. The crawling sounds of "The Chamber" and "Skeletal Mask" break for track nine which strolls along with only minor flavours of distortion and effect to give it life. Track ten gives us the richer "Incandescent Glow," the stuff the Green Guy would have been a part of. "Ambient Fruit (Chapter 2)"'s talkover musings are about the most intriguing ("Mary, Mary.."). They are familiar to us as this song first appeared on "Back and Forth 6" but this elongated 10:31 version is richer than the "short" seven minute original. This piece shows the contribution of Ken "HiWatt" Marshall and the smooth definition he's added to the release.
It's difficult to know exactly how much work Marshall did on this record to bring these old analogue tracks to life in 2003. Marshall, a studio collaborator since Skinny Puppy's "Rabies" period and Numb, Tear Garden and Hilt producer is given full writing credits even though he wasn't present in late 1984 to 1985 when these eleven instrumental song concepts were put together by Cevin Key alone. Key was creating music for the follow-up to Puppy's "Remission" EP and it lends itself to the side-project Hell 'O' Death Day period best.
We have to look at this work from two directions: past and present. Does it work as a period piece? Yes. Today? Yes as well as it's been updated by Marshall and cleaner than the earlier bed tracks. I would say this project was the product of Key's musings with archived recordings while cleaning house and putting together the "From the Vault" subscription series CD:s. These two artists are part of the current Skinny Puppy project and by looking back at early tracks may help in forming the new 2003 Puppy sound. Marshall's and Key's production credits were last defined in the "Ghost of Each Room"'s "Frozen Sky" with Ogre on vocals. This is the last in the Metropolis Records trilogy of solo releases by Key and has us impatiently awaiting the new Skinny Puppy EP release for later this year. This is a true reflection on how much the Puppy sound was created by Cevin Key as it's hard to delineate the two musical projects back in the "Bites" (1985) era. It will definitely score higher with fans. A look back at experimental soundtracks for films that never were...