Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D (Halo 25)

The point of a cover song, besides simply to make money, is to take something original and put your own spin on it, right?

By Fish Growkowsky for Edmonton Sun on November 24, 2007

It's hopefully an act of love - even when Garth Brooks inhabits Aerosmith's The Fever.

But when the source material is as perfect as Nine Inch Nails' conceptual and bleak Year Zero, an audio novel as much as a record, a whole album of remixes strikes me as a much better idea, especially given Trent Reznor's landmark Fixed/Broken cycle, two EPs with some of the most vicious industrial you'll ever hear as they progress. The album naturally led the way to The Downward Spiral, Reznor's most coherent work until this year's Year Zero.

But enough history. It's actually really cute to see how, for example, Ladytron remixes an anxious song like The Beginning of the End, feminizing and disco-ing it up a little, with a warbling audio nod to Spiral at the end. All these assembled producers, musicians and clever folks in their own right you can tell are fans by the way they nod to Reznor's earlier work.

There are several moments, like with New Order's Stephen Morris and Gillian Gilbert, that add simply delightful Manchester electronic, taking the whispered-word track away from the sounds of TV on the Radio and onto the streets of 1987 Miami. It's great.

Even better, Kronos Quartet takes on the instrumental Another Version of the Truth with onions-for-eyes tragedy. I got the shivers when I recognized the composition.

But there's a reason Reznor leads off with Saul Williams' original rap Guns by Computer, which rides Year Zero's fuzzy, screeching Hyperpower! all the way in. By adding lyrics, which thematically fit the whole project, Williams went farther than anyone else in this massive art stunt, creating entirely new content. And Reznor wants you to do the same, adding a second disc of all the original component tracks of his songs. In other words, go nuts, DJs and producers.

Already I've assembled a mix disc of all the tracks put back in corresponding order to the original album, which brings out the differences even more. But in the case of at least three songs, including God Given - also taken on by the New Order boys - they're better than the originals. I totally challenge any local radio station to play the hypnotic, new The Great Destroyer, massaged into total perfection by Modwheelmood. For this one alone, the album's worth buying.

Like Year Zero, this took me a few listens, and then it was obvious. He really did download the music of the future, it's no art stunt at all.

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