Die Rueckkehr: Teil 1

By Kym Gnuch for Sonic Seducer on April 1, 2005

It has now been five years: in fall of 1999 the last work by NIN appeared. The double album "Fragile" was an enticing milestone in the history of rock, just like its predecessor, the 1994 masterwork "The downward spiral." Note: fans of the ingenious Trent Reznor have always had to work on their patience. But now (one can hardly believe it), the dry spell is coming to an end, for on May 8 the legendary master will release a new studio album: it will be called "With Teeth" and will present thirteen new treasures of the high school of industrial songwriting. At the very least, one can confidently assume that – unfortunately I am not yet perfectly certain, since the record company has initially chosen to release only a five track cassette as a sneak preview. But the tape is enough, even if Trent himself, as you'll read, does not really approve of this approach. And this small annoyance shouldn't prevent a first conversation with the industrial wizard. And so I had him on the line—from which he disappeared during my first few questions. Technical difficulties. One has to be patient...

A few minutes later, he's back, and I politely repeat my statement, which of course was about those five tracks. Whereupon Trent Reznor got a little annoyed and expressed his astonishment that the whole album wasn't available; and he asked for the track listing. "Whoever made this song selection did not, in my eyes, necessarily have the best idea. First of all, I find it annoying, that only five of thirteen pieces are presented, because we're talking about an album, that should be seen as a whole. On top of that, these five titles represent the radio-friendly Top Five, which do not contain all of my personal favorites. In other words: you haven't heard the best stuff." Even before I was able to say that I look forward to the near future, he began a long monologue about the production of the work: "The recording process was vastly different from previous productions. I worked outside of a big studio, alone with a four-track recording device and minimal engineering. I started with it only at the beginning of last year—and in May 25 pieces were already finished, much more than I needed. Before I have always started with loops, riffs or sounds and then tried after the fact the to fit a song into the initial structure. This time, the songs were supposed to develop with the melody, the texts or the chord changes: with the essence the songs themselves. Maybe that's not the better way, but that was important for me. These pieces are complete in themselves, they are at the same time individuals, better in my eyes than all the ones I've made in the past—not little parts of a whole. Recently I was asked to select and play a song from 'The Downward Spiral.' I couldn't decide, because the titles on that album really only sound good when you hear them in context. At least, that's what I feel these days. Now it's different: 'With Teeth' is a truly song-based album. As I began the final phase of production, I surprisingly discovered that not much needed to be added to my raw versions. They had developed themselves from only a few elements! Maybe the reason is that I believe I've become more self-confident. I no longer feel the need to hide myself, my voice behind a wall of sound."

How can one explain this growth of self-confidence? Trent briefly paused, before he said: "An important reason is that I have been clean for several years. Up until that point, my life was really in danger of going to hell in a handbasket, as one so nicely says. And there were so unbelievably many things that I was running away from. But regardless of how fast you think you're running—they always catch up to you. I literally faced the decision of changing my life or killing myself, and please believe me, that is no exaggeration. So it took a while until the disk was ready for release, although the actual production phase was the shortest I've ever needed. I simply needed a time out to get a grip on myself as a person and to feel good in my own skin again, to get to know myself again. I worked hard, took this metamorphosis of mine seriously, until finally my head was clear enough again to write music. Besides, I didn't want to take the risk of failing by heading out too soon and possibly discovering that I am a lousy composer. And I was happy to discover that I could also pull off good songs clean, actually, as I think, the best in my life. Finally it disappeared: the feeling of being trapped, of having cotton in my head, of a veil hanging between me and reality. Abilities that had been repressed for years came out. I have had to learn to like myself again, and I think my self-consciousness as an artist grew too. The hiding behind a career or behind a bottle came to an end!"

The magazine then went on to analyse the 5 album tracks previously discussed in the interview...

That(?) Hand That Feeds

In a dramatic, slowly to its highest volume rising intro winds the single of the album, which will be released on 04/11. A radio friendly rock song with a straight beat and characteristic Reznor singing which discharges in a ecstatic chorus at the end.

Every Day Is Exactly The Same

The track starts with with a wonderful dissonant piano before it unexpectetly brakes lose in a grave half-time style. synthetic sounding basslines thud. Unmistakably a typical nin song, right from the first listen. Absolutely following the tradition of the unforgotten Uber-Hits.


Maybe the most surprising track of the collection. A cool funky disco rhythm dominates over noticably simple bass sequences. Even trents way of singing departs from his old image. invites to click your fingers. Is it an attempt to destroy expectations?

Getting Smaller

Begins with beautiful whining noise guitars before it evolves to a fast, aggressive uptemp hit. Followed by a typical chorus which ends up in screaming known from "Heresy" or "Terrible lie".

Right where It belongs

An outstanding, totally infatuating masterpiece of quiet sounds. The listener is accompanied by the limitless depth of a simple piano through various acoustic rooms. One has the feeling of following the protagonist from a busy street to a hall and then a stage to bid him farewall into a gray silence.

Transcribed by Lydia and John, translated by Justin Ward and drugprfct

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