Nine Inch Nails – Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D
A remix album to accompany the latest Nine Inch Nails longplayer is certainly something that’s de rigeur for Trent and co. by now; witness the release of preceding – “remix companions’ Further Down The Spiral, Things Falling Apart and With Teeth’s accompanying 2006 remix maxi-single Everyday Is Exactly The Same. Curiously, much of the press attention accompanying this latest remix effort has centred around the fact that Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D represents the final NIN record under the existing Interscope/Universal deal, and that Trent’s also been having something of a shitfight with the aforementioned labels because of his decision to make available all of Year Zero’s multitracks for public remixing. And the fact that his site specifically dedicated to hosting fan remixes comes perilously close, from a legal standpoint, to the sorts of – “bootlegging’ they routinely fight in court. Whatever the eventual outcome, those files certainly appear as the second DVDROM disc here, which comes bulging with that album’s audio files, as well as a demo version of Ableton for purchasers to get their heads around.
While it’s certainly a fantastic and forward-thinking addition, in many senses it’s the audio CD of commissioned remixes that’s likely to be the most polarising element here for many longtime NIN fans, and indeed the choice of remixers certainly highlights an increasing trend that’s been evident in their choice of remixes for the last couple of albums. Whereas the Broken/Downward Spiral period of old saw Trent commissioning leftfield artists like Coil, Foetus, PK and Dave Ogilvie to completely reassemble the original tracks as new pieces of – “sound art’ from the ground up, more recent singles such as Hand That Feeds and Only have seen him opt for comparatively more pedestrian dance remixes from the likes of the DFA and Richard X. It’s a continuing trend that’s increasingly evident here, though predictably, many of the most memorable reworkings come from the more avant/experimental remixers scattered amongst the tracklisting here and go a long way to making up for the more – “disposable’ offerings.
Saul Williams certainly manages to open things with a bang on Guns By Computer, a tearing reworking of album opener Hyperpower! that manages to take the original track’s intensity to new levels with Williams unleashing the outraged persona seen on Niggy Tardust over the original track’s virtually unaltered instrumental backing, and indeed, his crunching hip-hop reworking of Survivalism alongside Thavius Beck also proves to be one of the more inspired reimaginings here, even if it’s a slight pity that Trent didn’t opt for the arguably superior Opal Heart Clinic remix, which sees Williams given room to go off on far more lyrical tangents. NIN live keyboardist Alessandro Cortini contributes a spectacular reworking of The Great Destroyer that recasts the original as a glitch-laden space ballad brimming with strummed guitars, fluttering microrhythms and contorted electronics in the vein of Telefon Tel Aviv, before Pirate Robot Midget, the one remix chosen from an unknown fan offers up one of this collection’s most welcome surprises, twists My Violent Heart’s Prince-imbued electro-funk grooves around shearing noise bursts and evil-sounding bass synths: resulting what’s easily one of the more successful – “dance oriented’ mixes here.
While it’s certainly the stronger end of the dance equation represented here, Ladytron’s limp reworking of The Beginning of the End doesn’t do the tracklisting any favours, recasting the original track as dated electroclash complete with poptastic girl backing vocals, while US-based B-list New Wave rockers The Faint drag things perilously close to Michael Jackson on their fairly embarrassing remix of Meet Your Master. Thankfully, the above miss-steps are more than outweighed by the stunning and imaginative reworkings of The Warning by Realworld producer Stefan Goodchild, In This Twilight by experimental guitar manipulator Fennesz and Zero-Sum – perhaps the most gentle/vulnerable composition Reznor’s fashioned yet, here recast in a gorgeous downbeat electronic setting by New Order’s Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert – in many senses, the original electro power couple.
While some longtime NIN listeners may be left a little cold by the more club inclined reworkings on offer here, the levels of detail and innovation packed into the more – “avante’ minded remixes here still manage to provide plenty of audio stimulation, as well as the sense that Reznor’s tapped the skills of many of his personal musical – “heros’, in this case. Plenty of goodness here, but you might need the skip button handy, depending on your personal tastes.