Album: Further Down the Spiral (V2)
Artist: Nine Inch Nails
Summary: Gritty, screeching Nine Inch Nails that you can dance to.
The Downward Spiral was a phenomenal album of Dark Side of the Moon
proportions. The problem with releasing such an amazing work was
that there was very little that Nine Inch Nails could produce next
that would avoid disappointment. With Further Down the Spiral,
rather than create the next original album, they chose to release a
whole album's worth of remixes from the last one, a rather rare
concept that was also used by Pop Will Eat Itself in the same year.
This doesn't pretend to be like its predecessor; in a way, it actually
sounds even louder, with fast breakbeats, throbbing sub-bass and
plenty of loud clanging noises. There's one point where the music
even stops for dramatic effect while a gritty noise is sped up and
slowed down, then crashes its way back in again. This is what The
Downward Spiral might sound like if it was a dance album remixed by
Atari Teenage Riot (although the remixers actually include members
of Coil and Nine Inch Nails themselves).
Further Down the Spiral seems more like an experiment than an album.
It takes The Downward Spiral's depression and hate fuelled vocals,
plus a handful of its guitar riffs, strips them from almost all of
their original musical context and puts them amongst gritty, digitised
noise, manic beats and industrial sounds. Everything sounds as if
it has been compressed, distorted, reduced in resolution and sample
frequency, dropped out of a tenth story window, dipped in acid and
scratched with sandpaper. It is at once powerful enough to make it
feel as if the screeching will cause permanent hearing damage, yet
strangely compelling and even catchy in places.
At The Heart of It All was created entirely by Aphex Twin, which
begs the question of what exactly it's doing on a Nine Inch Nails
album. Then again, Aphex Twin always did seem to do his own thing
and remixes never were his forte, so it's probably for the best that
he included an original piece of music. It's dark, scary and would
make the perfect compliment to H. R. Giger's artwork.
Curiously enough, Aphex Twin's contribution isn't the cut that sticks
out the most. The Downward Spiral (The Bottom), after an amazingly
depressing intro, launches into a surreal piece of music that sounds
unlike anything you'd expect from Nine Inch Nails, the only recognisable
artifact from the original song being the Mellotron riff. In my
opinion, it would probably have been better off edited down to just
the first minute and a half. Other than that, this album is pretty
solid and consistent.
The reason I'm reviewing the UK version in particular is because it
contains two very good dance tracks that aren't on the American
release: Charlie Clouser's remixes of Heresy and Ruiner. In my
opinion, these are easily worth sacrificing tracks like the short
and rather pointless Eraser (Polite) and The Beauty of Being Numb,
a good portion of which is merely another song played backwards.
There is very little else to compare this album to; its sound is
vastly different from anything else I've heard. If it's an experiment
in taking some existing music in a violent new direction, it sounds
like it succeeded.
From Charlie Clouser's catchy tracks to the raw power of the Art of
Self Destruction cuts, this is a rollercoaster of an album for anyone
who likes music with screeching and clanging in it. While it's not
as good as the album it's reconstituted from, it's an invigorating
experience in its own right.