In the scheme of all things Skinny Puppy, Cleanse, Fold and Manipulate can be rather hard to recommend. Though it contains one of the band's finest songs, "Deep Down Trauma Hounds," Cleanse ultimately feels like a turning point, where experimentation is just beginning to gel with innovation and the band's trademark sound is forming rapidly before one's ears. But much of the album comes across like a series of interludes or ambient instrumental fragments. Still, fans of industrial music will appreciate the album's formidable beats and coarse sound samples that seem to be generated from warping the sounds of heavy machinery. Perhaps more than other any place in Skinny Puppy's discography, Ogre's vocals work like spoken-word stream-of-conscious dementia, with more emphasis on evil tones than on any relation to their music. After the Perry Mason sample-thon "Deep Down Trauma Hounds," special notice should be given to the ominous, haunted "Addiction"; the unsettling, creepy collage of "Shadow Cast," which features blood-curdling samples from Dennis Hopper in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2; and the overall tapestry of evil that is "Draining Faces," which suggests to a listener that they've come upon a goblin's ritual sacrifice in some foreign realm. "Anger" is the best indication that Skinny Puppy is semi-stuck in a rut between styles, as it straddles the industrial genre and the cut-and-paste sonic curveballs of later Skinny Puppy releases; its "spinning through the radio dial" effect would be put to far better use on Too Dark Park and Last Rights. Still more interesting than the majority of output from their peers and followers, Cleanse, Fold and Manipulate is best left for die-hard Skinny Puppy fans, especially those who favor the band's early, sinister, pristine dark ambience to the all-out torment that would develop gradually on the band's next five albums.
AllMusic Review by Tim DiGravina