There are clubs if you’d like to go – and believe me, you wouldn’t -; where they would love this record. Where these “manipulations” (that’s remixes to you) of Nine Inch Nails’ ‘The Fragile’ would fill the dancefloor with angry, cider-drinking goths. Why are they angry? Probably because every Saturday night they have to listen to the Prodigy, death metal, frigid drill’n’bass and ‘dance’ records intent on merging Wagner and Belgian nu-beat.
Now, let’s not get off on the wrong foot. This is obviously the best Nine Inch Nails album… ever! Mainly because it contains much less Trent Reznor. Although, sadly, not none at all. “You’re one of us, the wretched”, he sneers with that trademark, and incredibly off-putting, stylised mixture of self-pity/self-loathing.
But Trent doesn’t just hate himself, you know. As ‘Starfucker Inc’ proves, he hates starfuckers too. “Could he possibly be talking about Courtney Love?” you wonder. For about nine seconds. Before realising that, actually, you couldn’t give a shit.
Musically, Trent’s trying, bless him, but in a bit of an insane way. A man who’s taken Atari Teenage Riot on tour, Trent is clearly [I]au fait[/I] with the madder fringes of European electronica. The versions of ‘Slipping Away’, (new track) ‘The Great Collapse’ and a cover of Gary Numan’s ‘Metal’ (insert your own incredulous remark here) remixed by Reznor and Alan Moulder bristle with distorted beats, glitches and skronks. Unfortunately, they’re also big on churning guitars, slick, ‘scary’ FX, the atmosphere of damp prison cells and grey passages of electronic-rock that could easily have been made at any time since 1982.
Elsewhere, Adrian Sherwood goes all DJ Scud, but ruins it, inevitably, with much crap metal riffage. There are bursts of stern, ravey hardcore-lite, swampy industrial’n’bass and, in Keith Hillebrandt’s take on ’10 Miles High’, what sounds like, well, Nine Inch Nails being recorded underwater. Benelli’s recasting of ‘The Frail’, as a collabo-ration between Michael Nyman and Aphex Twin, is the truly great moment.
Slagging off this record, however, will only feed Reznor’s paranoia. It could even encourage him to make another one. A 10/10