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Friday 23 October 2009

20 Years of Nine Inch Nails (Part 4)

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For just pennies a day, you can save a Trent Reznor from being uncomfortable on MTV. The Save the NIN fund pays for things Trent Reznors need, like extra keyboards to smash, 10-gallon drums of corn starch, and an announcer who can pronounce the name of his band without calling it "Nine Inch SNAILS."

At first I ruled against including media in these posts, because in this day and age anybody who wants to find that stuff can do so. However, I've realized that the act of choosing what's relevant can be a part of the writing process. Now, you can watch all of them, watch some of them, or ignore them completely if you have no use for them.

First, let me get something out of the way that I would have posted in Part 1 if I'd been including video then:


Watch out for the guy in the back

Pre-NIN Trent Reznor, as a part of another band. I love how everyone else looks seriously '80s, and young Trent appears to be dressed for 1997. God bless the '80s; God bless Youtube.

Witness Protection: Speaking Truth to NiNnies

I may need to take an assumed name and hide myself; learn to blend into the shadows, like a ninja. There may be no amount of preparation possible to keep me safe; I am about to write some things about The Fragile that are not entirely complimentary. NIN fans the world over will want my head to hang on their mantelpiece.

"That was the girl who dared criticized The Fragile, we caught up with her eventually. She thought she was so clever, hiding in that big pile of comic books and Tori Amos CDs, but the smell of coffee and Orbit gum gave her away. Now, you can see her head over there, next to my mint copy of the Into the Void single autographed by Trent Reznor, or at least someone who looks a lot like him. It might have been that guy from Lost, actually."

Nineteen Ninety Nine

There are a couple of general guidelines for life, some well-recognized and some less so. There's Benjamin Franklin's famous assertion that the only certainties are death and taxes, the maxim do unto others as you would have them do unto you, and the fact that you should never let Trent pick the singles.

I was ecstatic the day I saw the single The Day the World Went Away at the record store (hey, remember those?), the first single off of The Fragile, NIN's long-awaited fourth album. Finally, a new song from NIN! And a real single, off a real album, not a joke remix EP like The Perfect Drug (no offense to The Perfect Drug!) Yippie-kiyaay! Moments after listening to the song, my excitement morphed into confusion, and finally intense disappointment. Months later, when The Fragile hit the shelves, I bought it dutifully, but without much enthusiasm; my faith in NIN had been shattered. I remember lining up at my local Sam Goody to buy the album, but I was also purchasing the newly released VHS subtitled editions of the Sailor Moon movies, and I was much more excited about the anime at that time. NIN put out a hugely experimental, double CD? That's nice. I used to really like them. I'll listen to it later, Sailor Venus awaits.

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Am I the only one who makes this connection?

It's not that TDTWWA is a bad song; on the contrary, it's grown on me tremendously in the intervening decade. I especially like the acoustic version released as a part of the And All That Could Have Been package several years later. But it's like the Waiting for Godot of rock singles. There's nothing wrong with Waiting for Godot, it's brilliant in fact, but can you imagine taking someone to see Beckett's existentialist lament when they were expecting something more along the lines of Cats? I was expecting a Closer (which I had learned to appreciate by that point), or a Head Like a Hole, and instead I got a song that wasn't single material, but was one of those quiet pieces that you ignore on first listen, but only grow on you much later after you've tired of the catchier tracks. If you need a time machine to properly enjoy your single the day you buy it, there's something terribly, terribly wrong. It was a bait and switch of modest, but significant, proportions.

Reznor later said that he wasn't trying to commit career suicide with The Fragile, but that's pretty close to what happened. Whether it was the intention or not, singles like TDTWWA and later, We're In This Together (which was musically innovative, but possibly the whiniest, most melodramatic song NIN has ever put out) sent a clear message to the throngs of rock fans who rallied around Closer as a party anthem; This is not mainstream music. This is ARTISTIC music, do you hear me? NIN is an art band. Go away, millions of fans.


Introduced by Johnny Depp, no less

NIN performing at the 1999. MTV Video Music Awards. I don't think that this one of their better performances of this song, but I chalk that up to MTV besmirching everything it touches. I want to know what it is Robin did that was so funny it made Trent laugh in the middle of the song.

Oh, and isn't it a shame that we're ten years too early for Kanye West here? I would love to see what happened if he interrupted Nine Inch Nails instead of a willowy folk singer girl. I've seen Trent get violent with that mic stand....

Into the Void of Certainty

The highest compliment I can pay to The Fragile is that, even a decade later, I'm still not sure how I feel about it. It's the only NIN album that sounds pretentious to me; I can almost hear Reznor's desperation to out-Spiral himself, prove that the novelty of The Downward Spiral was not a fluke. Tracks like The Great Below, while beautifully arranged and loaded with potential, seem to fall slightly flat, lyrically derivative and lacking the sincerity of NIN's earlier work. Throughout the album, the music is on a level above the lyrics and the vocals; the pretty, playful Into the Void, one of the album's most original compositions, is somewhat let down by Reznor's vocals-- god forbid a song on the album merely be whimsical, there needs to be some self-hatred in there! Some of the darker tracks, like No You Don't and Where is Everybody, are both depressing and forgettable; well, at least you'll forget how depressed you were.

And yet, no matter how many disparaging things I find to say about it, there are plenty of moments when it all comes together. Somewhat Damaged is a fantastic opening track; it is also dark and depressing, but the constantly building intensity is so effective that you can't help but revel in that darkness, which is what the best metal does. The primarily instrumental tracks are of course free from the lyrical malaise of the rest of the album, and they truly shine. Even when I was too disappointed with The Fragile overall to truly appreciate it on its own merits, Just Like You Imagined still struck me as one of the most beautiful pieces of music I'd ever head; I used it as the soundtrack to an animation I made during my senior year of high school. The Way Out is Through is just as evocative as the title would suggest, almost a thesis statement for the album. La Mer, largely a piano piece featuring some French lyrics by a female vocalist, is quietly mesmerizing. On a few songs, primarily the title track and Even Deeper, Reznor gives a quieter, more nuanced vocal performance that would become characteristic of later albums. The flip side of being pretentious is that, if you're aiming for high artistry, sometimes you actually reach it, and the Fragile is a long double album-- there are a lot of mediocre tracks, but there are a lot of winners too, and the winners are forces to be reckoned with. The constant presence of stringed instruments, as opposed to the mostly electronic fare of The Downward Spiral, adds a feeling of warmth to the album that hasn't been equaled on any NIN release before or since; something about it reminds you of a rainforest.


NIN learning how to play JLYI live (it's possible?)

Despite some of the band members screwing up the vocal part a little bit in rehearsal, I like this version of the song a lot.

I guess the easiest way to sum up the album is that it's massively flawed, but also massively beautiful. If it's a failure, it's only so in the sense that you have to wonder what the album would have been if Reznor had been in a better place emotionally when he made it-- The Downward Spiral casts too large a shadow on it. It really only fails in its inability to make good on immense potential. It's a sacred cow for NIN fans because that was the album that separated the men from the boys and the women from the groupies; if you stopped being a huge fan of NIN during The Fragile era, it's because you were a fair-weather fan and never understood what NIN was about musically anyway. I like to think that, even though my NIN fandom waned during that era, it's not because I didn't understand NIN. I think I understood NIN well enough to understand that the album could have been so much more.

Sales Falling Apart

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If I'm ambivalent about The Fragile even now, I've got nothing on the critical response to the album, which over time has proved to be entirely nonsensical. At the time of its release, numerous publications like USA Today, Entertainment Weekly, Alternative Press, and Spin Magazine heaped lavish praise upon the album. However, when The Fragile did not sell to expectations, retroactively many music critics apparently decided that not only was it not that good, but despite what they may have said before, they never actually liked it that much in the first place. In the press about 2005's With Teeth, a lot of critics addressed it as a comeback album, as if The Fragile were a disgrace that required coming back from. Now, ten years later and in the light of NIN's recent critical success with albums like Year Zero and The Slip, suddenly everyone remembers that The Fragile was amazingly ahead of its time. Make up your goddamned minds, people.

For a while people liked to refer to The Fragile as a commercial failure, but that's a slight that I haven't heard much these days; I think in light of what's happened to the music industry in recent years, the double-platinum sales of The Fragile are looking better and better. At the time though, the fact that The Fragile sold less than expected and did not produce any radio hits on a par with Closer, or even anything close to that, seemed to signal the end of NIN as a powerful force in rock. Furthermore, the remix album Things Falling Apart was bland, as remix albums go.

And All that Could Have Been


Nine Inch Nails 'La Mer' ((Live from AATCHB))

In 2002, NIN released a live CD and DVD. At the time, the title struck me as disturbingly self-lacerating; just imagine all that could have been, if The Fragile had been better and NIN shows were still completely sold out like they were in the good old days. Actually, the title refers to a bonus track of the same name off of the Still album, which was included as a bonus with the deluxe version of AATCHB. While the live album was pretty much what you would expect, Still was a surprise. Including several new songs (primarily instrumentals) and acoustic remakes of earlier songs, the bonus disc was the star of the package. In theory, there was a six-year gap between The Fragile and 2005's With Teeth, but a lot of NIN fans didn't feel that way; Still felt like an album unto itself.


Nine Inch Nails - Gone, Still.

It also began a trend which would continue throughout the rest of NIN's existence up to the present; grandmas and grandpas saying "I like this music, who is it?" and experiencing extreme confusion when confronted with the answer.

"But this is classical." "Yes." "You're saying it's Nine Inch Nails?" "Yup." "Aren't they the group that sings those terrible dirty songs?" "Yup." "But it's classical piano." "Yeah, they're schizophrenic like that."

Personally I'm not that fond of AATCHB itself-- the lyrics suffer from Fragile-Era melodrama. But the instrumentals are great, and the acoustic version of The Becoming proves that, despite everything that should make it impossible, NIN can make heavy metal with a grand piano. I think it's safe to say that that's a rare skill.


Metal +Grand Piano: Because it was there

What are you people doing? Is this safe? Does Elton John know what you've done with his piano? That poor bastard.

Next on NIN: The Series (or whatever it is that I'm doing), the With Teeth and Year Zero eras. I was going to post the video for The Hand that Feeds to get you all revved up for With Teeth, but there's been a lot of Trent Reznor in this entry, hasn't there? Yeah, I think so too. NIN is about more than just the front man, afterall. So instead, please enjoy this totally Reznor-Free version of The Hand that Feeds.


Rick Astley vs Nine Inch Nails - The Hand That Gives You Up (BRAT Mashup)

God, I love the internet.

Monday 19 October 2009

In Response to "Obama's War" (PBS Frontline)

Afghan Children

Last Tuesday night I watched "Obama's War", PBS Frontline's hour-long documentary about the war in Afghanistan. The main value of the documentary was that it showed a lot of things that you don't see on other broadcasts- and I'm not referring to the violence. Little things, like a marine trying to communicate with a group of Afghan villagers and running into translation issues, or the troops lazing around sans gear in the 120 degree heat of an abandoned school, gave you a sense of what it must really be like to be there. Now, I'm sure soldiers would laugh at the idea that someone like me 'understands' what it's like to be there (I don't profess to know that much) but for the first time, I felt like I had gotten at least an inkling of what it must really be like there, aside from the explosions and the television vistas of oceans upon oceans of sand.

If I took one thing away from the program overall, it was that the war in Afghanistan is not only different from the war in Iraq; it's like the war in Iraq through an insane funhouse mirror, where everything is similar on multiple levels but different in every way that truly matters. "Yeah, they're asking for more troops in Afghanistan, but this time they have an actual PLAN for what to do with those troops. This may seem like a pre-emptive war, because we're trying to sort out Afghanistan in order to avoid future terror attacks, but it's actually not pre-emptive because it's a continuation of the same war we started eight years ago- the one that was actually in direct response to an attack. Their current plan is based on winning the trust of the Afghan people through kindness and respect, which would probably work were it not for the fact that the Afghan people have been treated so arbitrarily over the course of the war, not to mention the last several decades, that they don't believe it when the troops say they're there to help. Instead of distracting us from a more important subject, this war is also a shadow-war with our ally Pakistan, who are peaceful on the surface but have been supporting the Taliban all this time, and one way or another, we are going to have to set a precedent for how military powers will deal with this kind of warfare, which bypasses diplomacy or even accountability, by doing the dirty work through faceless terror organizations," and so on.

I believe that General McChrystal is right in requesting more troops in order to strengthen the counter-insurgency, but then I hear myself thinking 'more troops' and 'Middle East' and I want to slap myself. I know it's different, but the failures of the Iraq war instigated a kind of paradigm shift in how most people in the US think about war: We don't want to go into it half-assed ever again. In fact, we don't even want to go into it three-quarters, seven-eights-assed ever again. It would take the emergence of swastika-emblazoned ,WWII-era Nazi's en masse from a time machine to convince many Americans that it's worth sending any troops into any war EVER AGAIN. "Get the troops out of Iraq and Afghanistan" has become a mantra, and many people don't want to acknowledge the fact that those are two different things; it just makes everything so painfully complicated.

For example, there's a lot of talk of 'nation-building' in Afghanistan, and it was basically glossed over in Tuesday's documentary when one diplomat said "This is Nation RE-building; there is already a Nation there." Unless you're looking at it from a Poli-Sci perspective, that seems like meaningless semantics, but it's critically important. When all these people say Nation-building, what they really mean is State-building; Nation building is virtually impossible. The sense of shared history and destiny that forms a Nation cannot be forced; the machinery of the state that complements that Nation is another story. It's extremely difficult to build a state without a nation, and that's the main problem in Iraq; the place is made up of several distinct nations who, for the most part, would be just as happy never to see each other ever again. In Afghanistan, while the organization is primarily tribal and local, the major conflicts in their history have not been along ethnic lines, at least in recent decades. Left to their own devices, the Afghan people instituted a secular, progressive government in the 1970's, which lasted until the Soviet Invasion. Recent history attests that they don't have a problem with the idea of being united under one government, and a secular one at that; they just wish their current government wasn't corrupt to the point of uselessness. In other words, we're not trying to force something on them that they have no interest in.

Forget Religion

Another aspect of the situation that is difficult to understand is the role of religion, although that's really more about the concept of religion as an organizational tool than actual religious belief; another thing that "Obama's War" did was reinforced my opinion that all of these conflicts are 99% secular, 1% religious. Money, territory, power, ethnic prestige-- these are all purely secular concerns. The holy war concept is a useful lie, because it sounds a lot better when you say "I'm doing this because God told me to, therefore it is RIGHT", as opposed to "I'm tired of being one of the have-nots in this society and my peeps have hated your peeps for eons anyways, so I don't have a problem killing you to get ahead." Whether that's a lie for the outside world or a lie they've internalized probably depends on the individual extremist, but it doesn't really matter. You can blame religion all you want, but the fact of the matter is, if we somehow woke up tomorrow to a world where religion no longer existed, people would find another pretext to fight over money, power, and prestige. "Jihad" isn't a philosophy, it's a meme.

Frankly, any talk about 'Jihad' at this point is a complete waste of time, because what terrorists groups are doing has virtually no relationship with anything in Islam. Terrorists want to hide behind the belief that there actually is some sort of holy war going on here, and every time we talk about their 'Jihad', we're cooperating with them. If there's anything resembling a true Jihad going on, it's on the part of Muslims who are fighting to stop their practical, egalitarian belief system from being defiled by all of this.

If you still don't believe that religion isn't really at the heart of any of this, consider this: the true believer, who takes every word of their text literally, has no reason to hurt you in this life; he BELIEVES that you will burn in hell. Feeling the need to shoot you is a sign of true spiritual insecurity, and it's downright embarrassing.

The Solution, such as it is

The really frustrating part for me is that there actually is a clear solution; it's just politically unfeasible. Unfeasible to the point where I wonder if we wouldn't be better off packing off and going home, regardless of the fact that everything will only deteriorate further, and who knows what consequences will stem out of that.

In the documentary, the American troops stationed themselves near a market in order to get closer to the Afghan people; afraid of being shot by the Taliban, the civilians abandoned that market and went to shop at a different one, miles away. The Marines then had the unenviable task of trying to convince the villagers, through poor interpreters, to come back to the market. The Afghan people don't believe that the soldiers can protect them from the Taliban, and why should they? Soldiers are dying; the marines don't have sufficient resources to thoroughly protect themselves, let alone anyone else. Forget about forging long-term trust and proving that the Americans are there for the duration this time: the Afghans don't have good reason to trust the Americans when they say "We will protect you from getting shot tomorrow."

In order to win true, deserved trust from the Afghan people, the troops have to be able to say "We will protect you", and make it look like a no-brainer; if the US presence were so overwhelming that you couldn't through a rock in Afghanistan without hitting an armed marine, suddenly the idea of the soldiers protecting the populace would have to be taken seriously. If the US presence were such that the idea of a Taliban attack was ludicrous, because, with all the marines around, it would be unclear whether the Taliban would have a place to stand, we would not have to convince the Afghans of our commitment to their safety; it would be palpable, so demonstrably true that there would be no question. With that level of safety, there would be greater cooperation in areas that will ensure future success- training large numbers of Americans to speak the local languages, supporting the next generation of Afghan artists and musicians who will promote and expand the traditional culture and help build Afghan pride and solidarity, building schools, etc. The impenetrable military shield would create a venue where all the things which would truly build Afghanistan- most of which are non-military, and would require non-military actors- would be possible on a grand scale.

If we followed this strategy, we could create a kind of sister-country in Afghanistan, helping them to follow up on the progressive path they started on in the 1970's, before the cold war threw everything off track and led to the post-war troubles that spawned the Taliban. In the new Afghanistan, the Taliban would be unwelcome; they could try to survive through their cooperation with Pakistan, however I don't see how that could work- the Pakistani government has been nothing if not pragmatic. If supporting the Taliban in resisting the US would seem like a tremendous resource drain for them (which it would be, if the US presence was on the scale that I am talking about), does anyone really doubt that Pakistan would drop them like a hot potato? There has been much talk about coercing Pakistan to be cooperative; in my view, we could bypass that entirely. Just make supporting the Taliban a big enough pain in the ass for them to deal with that it's not worth it to them anymore, and suddenly we're on the same side.

The obvious problem here is that, in addition to the issue of getting a war-wearied American populace to commit to a military objective on this scale (which is probably a deal-breaker in and of itself), I don't know if the numbers I'm envisioning here are even possible without a draft. Maybe they would have been possible had the Iraq war not so thoroughly exhausted the American military, but as of right now I doubt it. Of course, then I see myself typing words like "draft", and I want to slap myself again. It's so bizarre; I don't like the idea of large-scale military engagements one iota, but given that this situation has already been created, committed to, and sacrificed for, we can either do what it takes to win- an effort that will, at least in the short term, seem like madness, and anachronistic madness at that ('didn't we learn anything from Vietnam?' as many will say with even greater didactic frequency')- or continue to play a waiting game, hoping that we'll get lucky and things will somehow take a turn for the better of their own accord. I'm afraid that without a much more significant commitment, the level of involvement we have in Afghanistan now will do nothing except stall the inevitable, if even that. If we send more troops, that means more Americans sending their children off, possibly to die, on a premise that no one professes to truly understand; if we don't, those that have died so far will have done so for nothing, and will continue to do so in dribs and drabs until we eventually slink away with our tail between our legs, after another decade or two of stalling, while the terrorist nirvana that Afghanistan will have become plots more heinous crimes against humanity.

There is no way out of this that isn't difficult and ugly; if I seem to favor the higher-risk, go-for-broke approach, it's because that at least in theory, that strategy could eventually create another strong, secular ally in the region- almost like a second Israel, albeit with very different fashion and cuisine. And if we set a precedent of rehabilitating failed states, it will make it difficult for terrorist organizations to get a firm foothold anywhere- could they really take advantage of the power vacuum in Country X, if in all likelihood the US (or maybe even China) could step in at any moment? Despite how ludicrously expensive the whole thing may sound, making a habit of turning terrorist hotbeds into proper states means we'll be dealing with proper states rather than terrorist hotbeds; and unlike terrorist hotbeds, dealing with states is something America traditionally doesn't suck at.

We've been afraid of the loud bang of nuclear MAD, World War III, for a long time. Lately, it looks increasingly like there might not be any bang, but a series of whimpers so cacophonous they end up being louder in the end. The WWII metaphors of the Bush Administration, used to try to justify the War in Iraq, annoyed the hell out of me, but as with so many things, maybe they were partially right- even more unforgivable than being flat out wrong, which we could just ignore. You cannot apply the rules of WWII to today- the paradigms have changed. For one thing, it's a lot harder to tell when you've won. But one thing remains the same; if what you're fighting is truly a World War, you have to commit.

I know; it's easy to say. "If that's what you think, why don't YOU go to Afghanistan, missy?" Well, maybe I will- it's possible they might need English majors there at some point. They certainly don't have much of a use for us anywhere else.

Tuesday 13 October 2009

20 Years of Nine Inch Nails (Part 3)

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Little-known fact: The video for The Perfect Drug was created for the sole purpose of giving bloggers cool screenshots to work with. True story.

As luck would have it, my NIN fandom was at its height during the period where NIN could not be bothered to release a damn thing; maybe it was one of those absence-makes-the-heart-grow-fonder sorts of deals.

There was a five-year gap between the release of The Downward Spiral in 1994 and The Fragile in 1999 (technically, Further Down the Spiral was released in 1995, however that contained remixes of TDS tracks done by other artists than NIN, meaning that calling it a NIN album is a bit of a reach.) That's a long wait between albums, especially in an industry where the average shelf life of a band is only a few years to begin with.

At the time, Trent Reznor was distracted by outside projects; scoring the David Lynch film Lost Highway being one, and an ill-fated collaboration with Tool frontman Maynard James Keener another. While Reznor received accolades for his work on Lynch's film, the Reznor-MJK project, tentatively titled Tapeworm, is credited with the creation of only one commercially-released track. The idea of a NIN/Tool crossover however has proved so appealing to so many fans that Reznor claims that he has now spent more time answering questions about Tapeworm after the fact than he and Maynard ever spent working on it. For hard rock fans, it seems Tapeworm will forever be 'the one that got away', a kind of holy relic of 90's rock.

If it was a sparse time for NIN, it was also a confusing one. The one new song NIN released during the era, The Perfect Drug, was credited to NIN; however, other short instrumentals on the Lost Highway album were credited to Trent Reznor individually. Was Trent branching out as a solo artist, at least in the realm of film? Was NIN becoming a truly collaborative act, necessitating the distinction between the band and Reznor himself? Would any of this matter whatsoever unless any of the above parties got down to business and recorded the next stupid album already?

Reznor has admitted in recent years that the gap between albums was largely due to fear; after the tremendous critical and commercial success of The Downward Spiral, he was afraid that he was destined to be called a has-been pretty much regardless of what he did next. Unfortunately, though his procrastination may not have helped matters any, his fears proved to be well-founded: it took an album or two for people to accept that NIN would not, could not, make the The Downward Spiral again (not on a boat, not on a train, not with a pig, not in a wig, not in New Orleans, not with a walrus. Sorry.) Nevertheless, in 1997 we did get to hear The Perfect Drug-- like an oasis in a desert with no NIN, which come to think of it would be like most deserts, but c'est la vie.

The Perfect Video

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If the Closer video was a worthy addition to the song, the The Perfect Drug video took the "Music video that actually has a legitimate artistic reason to exist" concept to a higher level: the video is better than the song. In one sense, the video justifies the song.

It might seem obnoxiously pseudo-intellectual to presume that a song needs justification to exist, and I suppose it is, but The Perfect Drug presents a bit of a strange case. Ostensibly written for The Lost Highway soundtrack, only one tiny part of the song actually features in the movie- a tiny part with no vocals, incidentally. While The Perfect Drug was technically a single, the actual song did not appear on the commercially released EP- only a collection of remixes, something that annoyed me tremendously at the time (maybe it's just me, but when I buy CD single, I'd kind of like the actual song to be on it.) While the song has many interesting features and was nominated for the Best Hard Rock Performance Grammy Award in 1997 (one of NIN's twelve Grammy Nominations, two of which were wins), it usually doesn't make appearances on fans' "Top 3 NIN Songs" lists. It's solid, impressively experimental, and catchy, but lyrically a bit derivative of NIN's previous material.

Where Mark Romanek got the idea to turn TPD into a gothic, Edward Gorey-inspired visual feast, I'll never know. But at some point, the video ceases to be a Nine Inch Nails product and becomes Romanek's Opus. He somehow coached a believable performance of a distinct character out of Trent Reznor, who had never played anyone but himself in videos (albeit with some showmanship.) In TPD, instead of Reznor we have a haunted nobleman in a dark Victorian estate morning the loss of either a woman, a child, or both-- it's hard to tell. More importantly, the video has the nerve to reach for grandeur and actually captures it.

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TR_TPD.jpg Goatees: Should only be acceptable in this video, and POSSIBLY on Hugh Jackman. That is all.

At first glance, it looks more like a trailer for a feature film than a music video-- it's so fully realized that you believe there must be more there, more than this few minutes of film accompanying this strange song, equally soothing and cacophonous. Some people have expressed the wish that this video be expanded upon and made into a feature film; I think that would be redundant. It is a film; Romanek just did away with the need for things like "dialogue" and "running time."

Next time, I get into the second half of NIN's discography with The Fragile, Things Falling Apart, and And All That Could Have Been. You realize that by the time I get to Ghosts, I'll have probably have such commentary-exhaustion that the entry will read "NIN made album with no wurds, wuz good!", but we'll see.

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