Category Archives: Amen Break

Happy Belated Birthday

Hi friends. It’s better late than never to wish a happy belated b-day to Trent Reznor, who basically is Nine Inch Nails. He has been one of my favourite artists since 1994. He showed me that electronic music doesn’t have to be all bouncy drip, drip, drip. You can make it harder by distorting vocals and other sounds can be added, like the electric guitar.
I first heard Nine Inch Nails during a radio spot for a show with them on a bill with Soundgarden and Marilyn Manson. The first snippets of songs I heard was from March Of The Pigs and Head Like A Hole, highlighting the heavier parts of both songs. I went out and bought The Downward Spiral in December of that year and apart from the music, the packaging made me stand up and take notice. It was packaged in a Jewel case fit for a CD single, with the booklet in a cardboard package. Everything else I had bought, with the exception of Pretty Hate Machine, Further Down The Spiral and Things Falling Apart were packaged in anything but a Jewel case.
Now, the music is something else to talk about altogether. I mentioned earlier that he has added distorted vocals to the mix but he has used distortion in general as a creative tool, to enhance the mood of The music. He has even used instruments that wouldn’t be normally heard on a Nine Inch Nails album like: slide guitar and strings. The Great Below, which appears on the 1999 album The Fragile is interesting in that the singing is still Trent’s usual style but it is more melodic and the instrumentation reflects it.
When he writes instrumentals he likes to use out of tune melodies and notes, probably to enhance the mood of the music or for his own, or the listeners amusement. The all instrumental album Ghosts I-IV has loads of examples of this. It drives me crazy to hear that but I can let it go with Trent because if you think about it, it does add a rather strange element to the song, not to mention a peculiar dissonance to it. 
As a singer, Trent can sing a decent pop song if he wants but he doesn’t have to and he doesn’t. The closest he has come so far to singing normally is the song Find My Way from his 2013 album Hesitation Marks. He even goes into an almost bluesy vocal at times, which doesn’t bother me at all. I grew up on classic rock and Trent has covered such bands as Garry Newman and  Queen and sampled Queen a couple of times.
Speaking of sampling, I don’t hear that many obvious samples in Nine Inch Nails music, with the exception of the funky drum sample used in Perfect Drug, in the form of the Amen Break and his remix of I’m Afraid Of Americans by David Bowie. The only other obvious samples I can hear are from David Bowie in two remixes for Mr. Self Distruct and at the end of a remix of Head Like A Whole, where he samples Body Language by Queen. Oh, he even covers Get Down Make Love by Queen too, in a style more in step with where Nine Inch Nails was going musically. He even sampled both the song itself and the ending guitar of We Will Rock You at the end of the song, which I thought was kinda cool.
As for the remixes and remix albums he has released, I don’t have any problem with them. I’m actually more interested in remixes he has done for other artists. I have 2 from David Bowie: I’m Afraid Of Americans (NIN V.1 Mix) and The Hearts Filthy Lesson (Trent Reznor Alternative Mix). I like the remix of I’m Afraid Of Americans better than the original and the remix of The Hearts Filthy Lesson brings out more of the vocals in spots. If you know the song, you know what I’m talking about. You can find the original and the remix on David Bowie’s 1. Outside (Expanded Adition). You can find the original and remix of I’m Afraid Of Americans on the expanded Adition of David Bowie’s Earthling album and also on the iTunes version of the album, as a bonus track. However it isn’t listed as such on the normal Adition of the album.
As for his production credits, I haven’t actually bought that many of the albums he has produced over the years. The one that stands out for me, despite not being a big cellar and remembered by many people is the album by Two called Voyeurs with former Judas Priest and Fight vocalist at the time Rob Halford was pretty cool too. It’s a shame that it didn’t do as well as it should have but unfortunately, it didn’t have any Classic Halford operatic high-pitched vocals on it and the vocal style and dialect was unlike what Rob Halford would use normally. He actually stayed for the most part in a baritone range.  That may have been both the band and albums Achilles’ heel but I thought it was coo, bringing both the Trent Reznor production, together with the classic voice of Rob Halford. I think it should be rereleased on iTunes worldwide, just because. 
My favourite albums by Nine Inch Nails are a bit hard to pin down because they all have their moments of glory for me. However, if I had to pick 3 I would have to pick: Pretty Hate Machine, The Downward Spiral and The Fragile, with honourable mention going to Year 0. I would have loved to have listed Broken as an album but it is only an EP but is still great in its own right.
As for books on Nine Inch Nails, my favourite and only comprehensive look at the band and Trent Reznor outside of Wikipedia  is done by Canadian radio host  Alan Cross. Just look up either Alan Cross or Nine Inch Nails on iTunes and you may find the audiobook. I learned more about Trent than I ever did with Wikipedia or hearing about Nine Inch Nails on the radio.
Well, that’s all I can say about Trent Reznor at the moment. For my Simpsons fans, check out my new Simpsons blog Simpsons Sunday at https://simsonssunday.wordpress.com/ and I did mention Trent last year during one of my Simpsons Sunday posts in this blog too. In fact, I published it when Trent turned 50.
Anyway, I hope that Trent had a great birthday on Tuesday and the wife and kids are doing great too.