The Evolution of NIN

By Carolyn Hillard for Suite101.com on September 1, 1999

THE EVOLUTION OF NIN: Raw emotion, coupled with a new maturity. That's what Trent Reznor displayed in his performance of the title track off "The Fragile", debuted especially for the MTV Video Music Awards viewing audience September 9th in a live performance.

With this performance Reznor once again demonstrates his unique ability to mesmerize an audience with all his projected feelings, flung out with a force that's nothing short of amazing for a guy who appears to be quite reticent about talking about them in public. With some singers such a forceful, emotive style seems contrived. With Reznor, you don't doubt the sincerity of each grimace, every painful thought and lyric. It's not a pose. It's pure emotion, and you believe every second of it.

The difference that it's becoming clearer to see as each new song filters out, is that the Reznor of five years ago is definitely not the Reznor of today. He's matured. His themes reflect that. The lyrics of "The Fragile" focus more on others and a bit less on himself. Five years ago the turbulent feelings were all about Trent. These days he seems to be looking around and empathizing more.

"I was here too before everything else. I WAS LIKE YOU

I won't let you fall apart."

Not your typical NIN lyric is it girls and boys? I don't know about you, but somehow that's heartening to me. Mr. Self Destruct singing about feeling protective of someone or something. If that's not indicative of a brave new streak of optimism in Trent Reznor's musical vision, I don't know what is. I, for one, applaud the Evolution of NIN. Reznor is growing and changing. His music is reflecting that. Critics be damned.

In the pre-VMA interview with Reznor, Kurt Loder elicited little information that hadn't been reported elsewhere. Reznor talked about his recurring depressions, which were exacerbated by the death of his beloved grandmother last year. He tried psychotherapy for a while but abandoned it eventually, he said, for an undisclosed method of dealing with it personally instead. Apparently getting back to work figured prominently in his own personal form of therapy though.

Reznor, in one of the funnier moments in the interview, told Loder that some of the voices used on the new album were culled from pre-midnight raids on a local bar to draft people to sing or shout out certain things on the tracks. Drunken guys and comically horrendous atonal females was how he put it.

CUSTOM NIN: Musicmaker.com and TVT Records have signed a 5-Year License Agreement which, among other artists, will make available NIN songs to musicmaker.com. The company's web site allows browsers to build personalized CDs (up to 20 tracks) containing only the songs they like by their favorite artists. Songs are also available for downloading directly at a cost of per song. Songs for downloading are available in Liquid Audio, MicrosoftWindowsMedia 4.0 and secure MP3 formats. CDs can cost from .95 up to .95, depending on how many tracks are selected.

Transcribed by Keith Duemling

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