West Net

July 1995

Further Down The Spiral

Back in 1987, when Bon Jovi ruled the charts with Slippery When Wet, I joked that they could change the order of the songs, release it again, and go platinum. Fortunately, that never happened, but Trent Reznor has done the next best thing. Further Down the Spiral is an album that consists of nothing more than remixes of songs from The Downward Spiral. And while this is the type of album your average NIN junkie will pick up without even questioning the logic behind it, unless you fall into that aforementioned category, you should perhaps think it over.

The fact that Reznor chose to do this shouldn't really be a surprise to anyone familiar with his career. After all, this is the guy who released a CD single for "Head Like A Hole" with ten different tracks and only four different songs (four remixes of "Head Like A Hole", three remixes of "Down In It", two remixes of "Terrible Lie" and "You Know What You Are"). Reznor revels in "recreating" his own music and letting others do the same, and this album is an admirable attempt to offer up some of these "recreations" to the public. And while most of the tracks hold their own, some are simply annoying.

Reznor and Nine Inch Nails (listed as Chris Vrenna, Robin Finck, Danny Lohner, Charlie Clouser and Reznor) are responsible for the worst entry, "The Art of Self Destruction, Part One". This almost six minute track starts off promising enough, then becomes a cacophony of sound, which isn't a bad thing...unless it's practically incomprehensible. Fortunately, Foetus (Jim Thirlwell) follows with "Self Destruction, Part Two" which is different from the original ("Mr. Self Destruct"), but the essence of the song remains intact. The other NIN entry, Section A of "The Beauty of Being Numb" is simply OK, but doesn't make as much of an impression as Section B, which was created by Aphex Twin. Reznor himself remixes "Hurt", but the differences between the original and Reznor's remix are minor at best. The song plays the same, right down to the thirty seconds of feedback at the end.

But it is the guest players who make the biggest impression here, among them Rick Rubin, who leads off the album with "Piggy (Nothing Can Stop Me Now)", which features ex-Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro and Kim Bullard. This track is one of the best on the album, and is actually good enough to make you give the whole thing the benefit of the doubt.

John Balance, Peter Christopherson and Drew McDowall of Coil effectively recreate "The Downward Spiral", but take "Eraser" and make it the second and third most annoying tracks on the album with "Eraser (Denial; Realization)" and "Erased, Over, Out". Oddly enough, their third (!) remix of "Eraser", titled "Eraser (Polite)" is actually quite good.

Aphex Twin also create "At the Heart Of It All", a seven-minute track that is a rarity in the techno/ambient/industrial/whatever business: a considerably long track that is fairly repetitious, but is still interesting. Thirwell takes another shot at "Mr. Self Destruct" with "Self Destruction, Final", doing essentially the same things he did earlier on the album, but it's nonetheless interesting.

But perhaps what is more interesting about the album are the songs that didn't make it. True, there were remixes of "March of the Pigs" and "Closer" on their respective singles, but it would be intersting to hear them here, as well. Also, songs like "Heresy", "Ruiner", "Big Man With A Gun", and "I Do Not Want This" are notably absent as well.

Like the "Head Like A Hole" single, Reznor has given his fans eleven tracks with only five songs represented. And while Further Down The Spiral is well done overall, it's becoming less and less interesting for Reznor to do this sort of thing - let's face it, self-indulgence is only interesting for so long...then it becomes annoying. Perhaps Reznor should just go slap nuts and actually release another album of all new material in the next year...now THAT would be different, and probably a helluvalot better than Pretty Broken Spiraled Machine.

- Sean Eric McGill

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Nine Inch Nails
Nine Inch Nails
This article is provided courtesy Keith Duemling and Tracy Thompson from the collection previously located at SUS.