Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Nails in the coffin

The year, 1989.
The place, the Trocadero in beautiful Philadelphia.
The event, The Jesus and Mary Chain.
And opening for the brothers Reid?
Some band called Nine Inch Nails.

At the time, I'd been listening to a lot of punk (Minor Threat, the Exploited, the DKs, etc) and shoegazer (My Bloody Valentine, Catherine Wheel, Lush, etc), as well as some the more interesting classic rock stuff (Pink Floyd, the Doors, etc). I'd never even heard of "industrial" music.

I was (and still am) a huge fan of The Jesus and Mary Chain and was greatly looking forward to the show. I arrived early, figuring I'd check out this Nine Inch Nails band if just for a chuckle. Nails + Jesus! Get it? Haha. Anyway, I was expecting to be disappointed.

How wrong I was.

The band arrived on stage covered in flour and then launched into "Terrible Lie". I was floored. This was some of the most amazing stuff I'd ever heard. They proceeded to absolutely thrash for the next 45 minutes, Trent shredding his throat and the band wailing away. Incredible show. Among the best I'd ever seen.

When Nails was done, I just left. I knew that there was NO WAY that The J&MC could come close to what I'd just seen. I awoke the following morning and promptly went out and purchased the newly released Pretty Hate Machine and was pleased beyond words. Upon hearing that I'd gotten the CD, my boss at the time (WXPN's then music director, Mike Morrison) asked me if I'd ever listened to Front 242, Ministry, or Skinny Puppy. I said I had not and lo, the beginnings of my love affair with industrial.

The disease spread quickly and soon I was awash in Nine Inch Nails, Front Line Assembly, Nitzer Ebb, Front 242, Ministry, Skinny Puppy, Pigface, Revolting Cocks, and a world of WaxTrax inspired stuff. From there it was an easy step to Throbbing Gristle, Neubauten, and all the truly dark, glorious roots of industrial.

And I owe it all to Trent Reznor and a bag of Gold Medal cake flour.

OK. To snitch from Ron White, "I told you that story so I could tell you this story."

After the release of Pretty Hate Machine, I devotedly purchased every Nine Inch Nails release. Broken was amazing and remains my favorite (although in some ways, I prefer Fixed). The Downward Spiral was also very good, if somewhat bumpy in places. However, I soon found that the remix CDs Trent was releasing were more to my liking. But I still dutifully purchased The Fragile.

And it sucked.

I really, really tried to like this release. Really. I listened to both discs several times upon purchasing them and have since come back on occasion in hopes that my opinion has changed in some way.

I tried again today. It still sucks.

Granted, there is some good stuff here, but it is so mired in self-indulgent, masturbatory crud that it's just not worth the effort. I dig some of the instrumentals, but on the whole, this double CD is mediocre. I've heard it said that if Trent had culled this down to a single CD, it would be perfect. I would disagree. He could perhaps eek out an EP (if he was lucky).

Trent no longer rocks. Raise your hands if you're sure.

Anyway, from what I've heard of With Teeth, I won't be chomping at the bit (oh, the merry punster emerges again) to pick it up. I am also taking a pass on the live shows Trent and Co are doing here in NYC. In short, it appears my love affair with the Nails has come to a tragic end. Then again, my adoration of industrial music in general has become a mere wizened old man of its former self. I've gone on to find stuff that's so much more evil, interesting, and dark. I will always have a place in my heart for the glory days of eighties and early nineties industro, but the doorknob on that room is getting harder and harder to turn.

That being said, hope to see you all at Contempt on the 28th. I'll be spinning downtempo and experimental electronic in the lounge upstairs, but I'd be lying if I said I wasn't going to be downstairs during my off time, shaking my groove thing to some old diggin' in the crates industrial chune.

Never let it be said I didn't have a bit of a hypocritical streak myself.

However, "I don't need no instructions to know how to rock!" with:

Nine Inch Nails - The Fragile
(a sprawling mess in which Trent somehow manages to sound like Barry Manilow with a bad attitude and a distortion pedal)

Massive Attack - No Protection
(cavernous, dubbed out rethinks, courtesy of Mad Professor)

Deru - Trying To Remember
(enjoy the softer side of glitch, my son; hear and be mellow)

Julee Cruise - Floating Into The Night
(50 minutes of smoky midnights and broken hearts)


Blogger ocular spectra said...

"Barry Manilow with a bad attitude and a distortion pedal"

fucking brilliant. couldn't have skewered that album better myself.

there are a few tracks on the new CD that are pretty good, but they're buried in the middle where no one will ever hear them. go to and drag the player's lever to 19:16 to hear "Every Day Is Exactly The Same," although something about it sounds disturbingly like lenny kravitz (wouldn't be the first time, strangely enough), it's the first thing that isn't completely annoying. the title track (at 24:20) actually shows some inventiveness, and dare i say it, some of the "teeth" it promises. another totally sick track at 41:50 called "The Line Begins To Blur" almost makes me want to buy this. but mostly trent rehashes what he's done on the past 2 albums but not as well. even his attempts at being quiet and unadorned just come off like bad versions of "hurt". once you've had johnny cash cover your song almost better than you wrote it, what more can you do?

7:02 PM  

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