Friday, December 10, 2010

ReDiscovery of the Year

Nine Inch Nails
It took two bucks to reignite my love and respect for Nine Inch Nails. That's how much I spent on a copy of their 1999 double album The Fragile at a moving sale on Union Street in Park Slope at the end of this summer. It was a total impulse purchase—I hadn’t listened to any NIN in at least three years, and even then it was a one-time only spin of Year Zero before I filed it away in my library. I ripped The Fragile into my iTunes and listened to it all the way through on a lengthier-than-expected trip from my house out to the U.S. Open on the Friday of Labor Day weekend. And it blew my mind. It was perfect for an overcast, kind of steamy day filled with slow moving F and 7 trains. The following day I ordered three used Nine Inch Nails discs through Amazon and downloaded The Slip, which Trent Reznor gave away for free in 2008.

I’ve always been amazed I ended up liking Nine Inch Nails. When Pretty Hate Machine was released in 1989 I lumped the band in with all the other goth/industrial dance acts that the guys and gals that wore black played with a righteous fervor at WICB. It was the 1992 Broken EP that won me over because a) it rocked and b) I finally could get the angst and rage that Reznor was spitting out in his lyrics. With a much more discerning ear 18 years later, it's not Reznor’s words that hook me in songs like “Wish” or “Happiness in Slavery,” but the pure wall of noise that he's painstakingly constructed that gets down into my very core. Sometimes all that racket sounds almost joyful to me, like Trent was having fun making these crazy layered noises. I started jogging again this year and the NIN playlist I assembled on my iPod might be the best thing on there to get the blood flowing.

Of course, getting into a band again a year after their frontman decides he doesn’t want to tour any more and is going to devote himself to other projects? Why yes, that is excellent timing, thanks.

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