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Nine Inch Nails - Closer CD (album) cover


Nine Inch Nails


Crossover Prog

3.87 | 14 ratings

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4 stars I don't know what it is, exactly, but there's something about Nine Inch Nails' music that fascinates me. I'm usually put off by vulgarity and totally-out-of-left-field, noisy modernistic fare yet when it comes out of the mind of Trent Reznor it all makes perfect sense to me and I'm okay with it. Go figure. For some reason I can't imagine his work being as invitingly honest and uncompromising without those ingredients liberally sprinkled in. I'm also impressed by his productivity. It would seem that if he wasn't out on tour with the band he was living 24/7 in the studio and recording constantly. Now, the fact that he was severely addicted to alcohol and cocaine throughout the 90s no doubt contributed to his preference for being a mole-like workaholic, self-sequestered in the seclusion of a soundproof control room, but that compulsion-fueled, health-threatening lifestyle he chose to lead didn't diminish the genius that resided inside the creations that emerged in spite of his afflictions. He was a driven man. For example, whenever NIN released a single you didn't get just a longer version of the song, you got a variety of translations of that particular tune along with some bonus stuff thrown in for good measure. That's the case with the "Closer to God" CD. Trent was like the rich but ambitious kid on the block who built his own treehouse and then, rather than being an effete snob about his achievement, invited all his neighborhood pals over to add their two cents to the interior decorating scheme and the overall Feng shui arrangement of the furniture. When "Closer" became a wildly popular cut on FM radio and as the macabre video turned into a highly-requested big deal on MTV Reznor didn't change his mode of operations one bit. He brought in an eclectic slew of musicians, technicians, producers and mix-down artists and gave them free rein to reshape the number as they wished. The result is an engaging fifty-one minutes or so of some very intriguing variations on, with a few exceptions, a central theme.

The first cut is "Closer to God," a remix by Trent, Sean Beavan and Brian Pollack. The strong techno influence adds a lot of energy to the track and the scathing guitars give it considerably more grit than the original possesses. "Closer (Precursor)" follows and I consider it the apex of the record. Label this the "haunted house" take, complete with ghostly rattles and creaks abounding in the dank air. I love the imaginative liberties that Coil and Danny Hyde took with the premise and especially how they tricked out the vocal. The last segment is unexpectedly jazzy, as well. "Closer (Deviation)" is next and it's definitely a departure but not a bad one. Jack Dangers and Craig Silvey give it a laid-back semi-hip-hop vibe minus the distraction of any unnecessary rapping being included that would've disastrously ruined the mood. "Heresy (Blind)" is a cool detour. This revamping of a song from the album "The Downward Spiral" constructed by Dave Ogilvie, Anthony Valcic and Joe Bisara is clever and multi-faceted in that it never stays in a stationary atmospheric condition long enough to grow stifling. "Memorabilia" is Reznor's cover of a Soft Cell tune (a British group that was a purveyor of Synthpop in the early 80s). This is the kind of experimental aural art that Trent championed at a time when so many of his peers were content to be followers of popular and more commercial trends. Listening to this cut, it's obvious that he wasn't afraid to color outside the lines. The tune is basically a layer-upon-layer construction of samples and loops that I find strangely alluring.

"Closer (Internal)" was manufactured by the team of Bill Kennedy, Scott Humphrey, John "Geetus" Aguto, Paul Decarli and Eric Claudiex. I'll classify this one as the "fat" interpretation as their tactful use of distortion and white noise broadens the number's scope massively as they put an emphasis on manipulating the dynamics. "March of the F**kheads," rendered by Adrian Sherwood, is a throbbing instrumental that truly embodies the genre known as "Industrial Rock." It's akin to being led blindfolded through a hot, busy steel mill. The same 5-member crew that conjured up the "Internal" cut delivers "Closer (Further Away)." It's an abstract and less-restricted excursion than the others. The arrangement doesn't rely as heavily on the rhythm track, dropping it out sometimes and at others isolating it in a corner of the soundscape. It gets extremely intense in places so it's not for the easily intimidated or those prone to suffering claustrophobic episodes. The finale is the official "Closer" single, culled intact from the album except that the eerie, off-kilter piano at the end is allowed 13 more seconds of life. No matter how many times I hear it I'm mesmerized by its irresistible aura.

As an aside, I caution the younger, horny male proggers out there who might be tempted to use Trent's blatant phrase (that describes without pretense what he'd like to do to his lady friend) as a pickup line in a bar. Most likely you'll get a stinging slap across your face for being a rude jerk. However, if the woman being addressed doesn't flinch and actually accedes to accommodate you in your stated desire she probably isn't the kind of girl you'd want to take home to meet mom or to escort to the next church ice cream social if you catch my drift so be careful what you ask for. You might pick up more than a one-night-stand. Remember that Mr. Reznor was merely expressing his libido's angst and pent up frustration at the time, not advocating a new, surefire approach to mastering the mating game. (When we randy tars tried that bold ploy in the 70s it didn't work to our satisfaction then, either. Just sayin'.) Anywho, if you like what NIN does then this won't be a disappointment but an augmentation. To my ears it's as progressive-minded as it gets. 3.8 stars.

Chicapah | 4/5 |


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