Friday, June 4, 2010

Persistent Dog, Now with Pretty Tricks

For Trent Reznor, music is a compulsion billowed by a fascination with new noise -- and currently, the new noise is Mariqueen Maandig (formerly of West Indian Girl). Married October of last year, the two are part of How to Destroy Angels, a band that just released their free-for-download, eponymous EP. They've been teasing about new material for months, having leaked video bits of the album over the course of the last month or so.

We love Trent Reznor. Always have. Always will. Always can remember as a pre-teen (then, no one was yet termed a 'tween) retreating into the bedroom, shutting the door, and feeling a burst of joy at the weighted rattle of the bright orange-and-red cassette case of Broken. Popping in that tape, cranking up the ol' boom box ... "Wish" was solace.

So, it's been fun to follow Reznor's activities, as "Closer" spawned a surge of mainstream rebellion; as the harder, more raw The Fragile shot up the charts and back down just as quickly; then through the various experiments of the last ten NIN years, as Reznor ever-pummeled at his laptop, chasing perfection, pushing past what may have been a quaint yet bland childhood of pole-fishing and TV-watching with his grandparents. Year Zero, released in 2007, evoked a world of mass hysteria and paranoia and accompanied a reality video game. Next, in a big F-U to Interscope -- and the record industry in general -- he released the instrumental Ghosts I-IV in silence, then burst into song with 2008's The Slip. And then of course, came the final tour. No more NIN.

Stylistically, Reznor doesn't venture far from NIN with How to Destroy Angels. The same dark, floor-shaking bass lines, staccato beats and distorted sampling show up; the new places are in Maandig's voice, which adds a new balance and a haunting echo to Reznor's edge. What the album does well is build a journey in each song. Watch "The Space in Between" video to get that the most; get past your raised eyebrows in the militaristic "BBB" and see where it takes you. Get some glow sticks for the rave-reminiscent "Fur-lined," which is really fun -- not angsty, mind you -- but fun and almost Bjork-ish.

How To Destroy Angels - BBB

How To Destroy Angels - Fur-Lined

And please, when you listen to all of it, heed dear Trent's beautiful advice and get yourself some good freaking earphones for the love of god. Let us respect the man's obsession for to create for us a pristine sound environment. The aural playground's a great place to be.

And that is what she said.

... fave Reznor quotes, lifted from a NIN forum:

"This is your art! This is your life! It has a value and you the artist are not putting that power in the hands of the audience - doing so creates a dangerous perception issue."

"The old guard is dying, if you have good ideas - try them. Believe in what you do, do the best work you can, work hard, practice, practice more, find your voice, hone in on it, take chances, play live (if applicable), practice more, keep believing in yourself and prepare for the long haul."


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