New to the Library: Add Violence EP-Nine Inch Nails

http://assets.teamrock.com/image/8c7153e1-0971-40db-aab8-9c4757a6dc4a?w=800Wow, just wow.

When I got the Not The Actual Events EP, I was happy to have more Nine Inch Nails in my life–especially since it didn’t turn out God awful. But this newer EP, Add Violence, is far superior.

Although I’m still a little confused about the decision to put out two 5-6 song EPs weeks apart rather than just one whole album. *shrug* This EP has so much more soul. So, perhaps the decision to keep them separate was to keep the integrity of these tracks intact…I will say that I don’t think anything conceptually new is happening here, though. It’s more like, wouldn’t it have been nice if The Fragile‘s two discs were Left-Trash Rock, Right-Art Rock? That’s the distinction I see here.

“Less Than” has that juicy bright synth loop that is very reminiscent of Pretty Hate Machine‘s peppier tunes. I’m getting a little tired of the ascending scale melody theme in Reznor’s songwriting, but it is catchy…so I guess that’s a little bit of a toss up. Fortunately, this is it’s only cameo in this EP. *whew* The instrument build up in this song is very well crafted and gives you that “so pumped” feeling ala “We’re in This Together.”

“The Lovers” is another toss up for me. Again, he is implementing a lot of his hey-day tropes–in this instance the whispered spoken word. I appreciate the style in it’s “original” form of “I Do Not Want This,” but here it just feels like the middle aged, high school football hero regaling us of the glory days. I love the sung melody, though; and I do feel the spoken word works as a sort of stylistic counterpoint. So that being said, I’m not sure the song could do without the spoken word even though it grates me. Also, this track is a reminder that Trent Reznor has beautiful song writing capabilities. I would love to hear instrumentals of all these tracks, because they really could stand on their own. It’s really no wonder he has been working on so much soundtracking recently.https://i1.wp.com/cdn3-www.musicfeeds.com.au/assets/uploads/nine-inch-nails-2017-source-facebook-671x377.jpg

“This Isn’t the Place” is so bluesy. Love, love, love. The perfect break up mash: Feist’s “The Limit to Your Love” as drunky, emotional catharsis and then this moody bitch is when you just sit and stew about the bullshit. This is really only underlined by the breathy falsetto vocals that start halfway through. Saudade as fuck; “I thought we had more time.”

“Not Anymore” is raw AF. Reznor doesn’t always do dramatic pauses, but when he does they are perfectly placed. I also love how so many thematic sounds from the last handful of albums get blended into one cohesive monster here. There are so many sonic rabbit holes to explore here. And just when you think you’ve settled into it. Boom!

In pops “The Background World.” I’m not sure the extended noise section was reaaally necessary, or that it necessitated the “album only” buy (such a gimmick btw…I mean unless you’re Bjork’s “Black Lake,” just sit down and let people buy what they want lol). It could have easily ended around the 6-7 minute mark without damaging the whole. What I do love about this track is how both the lyrics and the instrumental pieces metaphorically reflect the consequences-unraveling phase of an event. This is a very hard interpretation to get right, and it seems only fitting that Reznor would be the master of that realm.

Overall this EP is wonderfully solid. Skip your Strawbricks and add this latest NIN installation to your collection. It is definitely worth it.

4/5

Advertisements
New to the Library: Add Violence EP-Nine Inch Nails

New to the Library: Not the Actual Events EP-Nine Inch Nails

https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/en/9/9c/Not_the_Actual_Events.jpgBefore I begin to dig into this EP, I would first like to shout out a really great review done on big bad Pfork on The Fragile.

Onwards. I am enjoying the heck out of this record. It is certainly not a groundbreaking NIN album, but if you’ve got a good speaker system or some juicy headphones, treat yourself to the sonic delights of perfectly produced music. Reznor is really good at splitting channels in songs, which doesn’t come to it’s full potential until the listener pops on a headseat and is trapped in an aural teeter-totter. (Side note, this is also a way to hear some lyrics better. On many tracks the wall-of-sound is hard-panned to one side and then the lyrics come out crisp and clear on the other.)

I would also like to take a moment to address some oddities I found on the interwebs before I began: One of his grimiest records since Downward Spiral (wuh-hut??); blas√© reviews on The Slip & Hesitation Marks (is. you. doin??); no one ever talking about Ghosts I-IV (bruh.) So for those in the back who weigh in when they feel like having an opinion on a record they half-assed listened to once: fuck all y’all. To me there are only two reasons to have these dumb ideas: you haven’t gotten over Downward Spiral and expect every album to be more of the same (ew) OR you hopped on the wagon because you thought With Teeth was awesome (double ew). The reason why Ghosts I-IV is so important to the catalog is that it concludes the content of the previous albums and ushers in the new era. Essentially, Year Zero is what With Teeth was supposed to be–the capstone to anger and desolation & in the same moment restored fans faith in Trent Reznor. So, everything that has been made since Ghosts I-IV is the new age of Nine Inch Nails. You will need to accept and enjoy complex electronic rhythms, exploration into new genres (world, jazz, funk), and letting your mind meditate in the atmospheric murk if you want to continue to appreciate their albums.

Now that the emotional vomit is out, let’s move on.

  • “Branches / Bones” really showcases the industrial-wall-of-sound that Reznor has been cultivating at least since The Fragile‘s “Starfuckers, Inc.”, if not much earlier. It’s sort of like screaming into a pillow before having a hard conversation and it works as a nice wake-the-fuck-up track.
  • “Dear World,” is so drum heavy it makes it hard to breath. When all the sounds are combined there is no pause, no rest. So when it breaks out into thinner layers it feels like a relief. And right when it stops and you can hear yourself think for a second, in pumps the 2-channel voice layers. It’s very The Slip and very tasty.
  • “She Gone Away” is so rad. I love nothing more than the gravelly bottom of Reznor’s range, yum yum yum. On a more serious note, both the music and vocal arrangements are very reminiscent of Puscifer songs; and I can’t help but wonder if this is what the never-materialized Reznor-Maynard album would have sounded like. The bassline is basic and mesmerizing. If Not the Actual Events is some sort of nostalgia tour then the drum and bass interplay on this track definitely reeks of The Fragile‘s “I’m Looking Forward to Joining You, Finally.”
  • The chanty/yelly vocal parts on “The Idea of You,” oddly enough, remind me a lot of Faith No More. And if Trent whispering in the background ala “Closer” and “I Do Not Want This” is your heaven, then welcome to your next favorite track. AND, for those of you who have been bellyaching about “too much electronic,” here is your bleedin’ rock track.
  • It’s very possible that “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)” is my favorite song of the bunch. The opening stanza “I’m goin’ back/ Of course I am/ As if I ever had a choice/ Back to what I always knew I was/ On the inside/ Back to what I really am” feels like a lyrical home. And on a much more personal note, is really resonating with my ever closer return-of-Saturn. The music is grimey, crunchy and electric. There are also moments where the bass guitar and bass drum drop at the same moment and give that endlessly deep sound I most often associate with the most soul ripping Korn drops (I know, I know, who makes Korn references–but. it. applies.) I always feel a little blah about rock artists imitating fascist rallies ala NIN, Manson, Pink Floyd, etc. Mostly because I have a deep concern about/experience with this being turned by some less critically-analyzing fans into these bands condoning Nazism, which as far as I can tell is the exact opposite of what the artists are doing. But in this case, it’s faint enough that I can kind of stop and enjoy the journey instead of being worried about Reznor acci-encouraging neo-Nazi assholes.

Overall this EP is good. It does have a lot of compositional overlap with previous albums, but it’s enjoyable, not a drag. It feels kinda like a B-sides collection. Who doesn’t love B-sides? My bigger hope is that…does that mean we’re gonna get another tour?? Because man, oh man, does Reznor put on amazing. fucking. shows. *sigh* I guess I’ll just have to cross my fingers, hold my breath, and wish upon a star.

4/5

 

New to the Library: Not the Actual Events EP-Nine Inch Nails

New to the Library: “BTSTU” Jai Paul

Image result for btstuIf you’re looking for a thoughtful, professional assessment, check here.
To be honest, I don’t have much else to add that hasn’t already been said by big, bad Pfork. What I can say is that Jai Paul makes me feel like I’m listening to mid-80’s Prince. His songs are always edgy AND sexy.
I sort of played out “Jasmine,” so I’m real stoked to have a new Jai Paul jam to grind through my big headphones and just melt into that dirty bass. Maybe my drunk dancing days aren’t over yet; maybe his songs will give me new life.
4/5
New to the Library: “BTSTU” Jai Paul

New to the Library: FKA Twigs: EP2

https://i2.wp.com/theyoungturks.co.uk/images/uploads/releases/FKA_Twigs_approved.jpgEP2‘s opener “How’s That,” rhythmically, seems to be picking up where EP1 left off. Almost like an epilogue to that moment in time. While echoing the songs of past EP, it draws us down the path into a much more sensual place, very different from the bitterness and anger of EP1.

Papi Pacify” lurks in the dark. The video is dripping in sensuality. I also really love the almost back-looped sounding strings toward the end.

If I were to make a non-sexy bathtime playlist, I think “Water Me” would definitely make the cut. Not because of…you know water…but it’s just very chill and almost cleansing feeling.

On the flip side, if I was making a SEXY playlist…”Ultraviolet”‘s gotta be on there. And really, all of these tracks are sort of like making-out-while-high-AF distilled.

EP: 4/5

Black Girl Magic: We go to eleven.

New to the Library: FKA Twigs: EP2

New to the Library: “Imo” SBTRKT

https://i2.wp.com/theyoungturks.co.uk/images/uploads/releases/YT2013CD.jpg

This track is glossy electronic. All the sounds are crystal and exactly where they should be, when they should be. It’s like if Willy Wonka’s Everlasting Gobstopper machine made electronica instead of, you know, Gobstoppers.

I’m pretty excited about all of the tracks from this compilation, but I knew SBTRKT wouldn’t disappoint as a first buy…So hopefully, someday I’ll get the chance to do a full album review. : D

4/5

New to the Library: “Imo” SBTRKT

EP1, FKA Twigs

https://i.ytimg.com/vi/nIapN9bzyNU/maxresdefault.jpg

FKA Twigs is such an inspiring artist. I’m not -obsessed- with her work, but everything I come across is just magic. EP1 is no exception. A breathy, four song EP that plays like a soundtrack to walking in a city on a foggy day. I’m glad I did a little digging on this release as there are videos to each track. They aren’t stylistically comprehensive, but I’ll touch on them as we go.

“Weak Spot” is probably my favorite track. I’m a sucker for whispers, what can I say. Lyrically and stylistically there are a lot of parallels between this and The Cure’s “Lullaby.” I’m in love with her lines, “He’s got you feelin’ like you’re found/ Deep down/ Rolling on your back, pussycat.” For that part alone I can see this being a future On Repeat contender. The video feels old, like something you’d see as a “technologically advanced” video from 1999. It’s still a nice accompaniment to the song, though.

Next up is “Ache,” which is so damn catchy. This is mostly the staccato style of chanting “I ache for you” in the chorus. Mellow with a little bitter; perfect jam for fuckboy-fallout. I didn’t really appreciate the video for this one. The aesthetic matches well with the song, but it’s just some guy in a mask gesturing/dancing. And that’s the whole thing. For five minutes. I just kind of wish there was more to it. *shrug*

The beats in “Breathe” remind me a lot of Radiohead’s more electronically inclined tracks. There’s a little trip in the rhythm that creates a tension with the vocal melody. The song is mostly forgettable, but in the good way. Where you can just enjoy it as background while working on something creative–it pushes the vibes along. This was the only video of the set that was more of a “traditional” music video, less esoteric. It has a bit of a 90’s industrial “trash shit” kind of aesthetic, which is a really fun play with the content of the lyrics, “But I breathe easily in your arms/ But I breathe easily where you go/ Just breathe, breathe in/ Just breathe, breathe in.”

“Hide” is like the exhale of the EP. Not only is it a fairly slow track, but it has a ticking sound in the back that goes through waves of speeding up and slowing down, ultimately ending in a slow, final release. Lyrically, it seems to be a ‘finding confidence in yourself through ending a bad relationship’ message; which is a nice cap off of what appears to be a breakup album. The gentle guitar riffs and vocal overlays give a sort of nostalgic texture, like letting go of a dream. For whatever reason the video is age restricted on YouTube, so you’ll have to verify you’re 18+ to watch. It is just her body moving side to side with a flower over her lady bits. I mean, maybe this is “PG-13;” although sensual, there is nothing overtly sexual in this video. Esmerelda and Megara¬† were more erotic than anything in this short…But ANYWAYS, it’s a nice companion to the song and in some ways even shifts the meaning.

Overall, I really love this EP. If you’re remotely an FKA Twigs fan, this is a must try.

4/5

 

 

EP1, FKA Twigs

On Repeat: “Peacebone” Animal Collective

https://media4.giphy.com/media/BN8LXvGJ50tVe/200_s.gif

Bonefish.

This may have actually been the “on repeat” from August…or September…or October. Who fucking knows; life has been wild lately.

On the surface, this track has a lot of the acid-dripping markers of a typical Animal Collective scream-tinged song BUT there is actually a coherent storyline, or rather, picture being painted. If you cruise YouTube for live versions of Avey Tare, he is clearly behind most of the manic-anxious-obsessive/nostalgic themes (and it’s really obvious that album production involves a lot of taking his wild roars down a notch or five). Incidentally his lyrics are usually the ones that make any fucking sense at all. *heart*

There is a lot of juxtaposition happening between the bright electronic loops and steel drum parts and the very tangible bitter surrender to the current-of-life in lines like “you find out you can’t ask a baby to cry.” Deep harmonizing chords fall just a split second before each measure’s downbeat which give the whole song a sort of sticky feeling; like your brain is trudging through honey. So while one part of you is trying to be all drowning-in-sunshine, the other half is being carried non-stop by the interplay of the vocal melody and the bright counter melody. All of this comes with a light sprinkle of baroque-esque keyboard licks. By the time you get to the screamy “ya-dah, ya-dahs,” it feels like this cathartic release to the endless tide pushing you through the song.

Not unlike what I imagine it would feel like to wake up one day, 33, making decisions based on money rather than interest, feeling kinda achy, and exasperated that little Timmy has once again woken you up at 6am on a Saturday.

Bonefish.

4/5

On Repeat: “Peacebone” Animal Collective