TRENT REZNOR is currently the acceptable face
of industrial music. He‘s managed to use his self-contained electronic group to
distil the foreboding European essence of Front 242 et al and put an attractive gloss on what was once the most
underground of styles.
After the top-selling ‘Pretty Hate Machine‘
made Trent into someone that American kids might look up to, legal
complications bore down on him, stalling recordings, causing unpleasantness.
This year‘s mini-album ‘Broken‘ was recorded amidst scenes of paranoia and
secrecy and. whether by default or design, the result sounded like a
sample-based descent into hell.
And it gets stranger. Apparently at Trent‘s instigation,
the tracks from ‘Broken‘ have been handed to an array of left-field remixers to
form ‘Fixed‘, which rivals Lou Reed‘s ‘Metal Machine Music‘ as an exercise in
Reznor might have a right to feel aggrieved,
but there‘s really nothing to excuse monumental self-indulgence on such a gross
scale. If ‘Fixed‘ is commercial then I’m Michael Jackson’s llama. Even the
furthest voyages out there into unlistenable noise have nothing on the final
track, ‘Screaming Slave‘, which is the musical equivalent of having a virus in
your computer — scrambled nonsense. And you can guess by the track record of
the chosen remixers— Coil, Jim ‘Foetus‘ Thirwell, Butch Vig and Trent
himself—that these are hardly going to be floor-filling cosmetic surgeries of
the like favoured by, say, Shep Pettibone.
No, the main advantage of ‘Fixed‘, apart from
its value as a handy party-pooper, is the way the constituent elements of
‘Broken‘ have been discarded for a ‘F— You‘ aesthetic. No longer do you have to
suffer Trent Reznor‘s self-obsessed, graphic lyrics (except on ‘Happiness In
Slavery‘) which show a persecution streak as wide as The Nile; no-one‘s life is
this hopeless, surety. And, certainly, no longer do you have to deal with his pleading,
snarling whine. On the negative side, you do
miss those massed ranks of sampled guitars he used to stimulate the illusion
that there was a real band in the studio with him.
But let‘s not get carried away. Amongst the
pleasing ambient fluff (‘Throw This Away‘s drawn-out intro} and the occasional
echoes of orchestral swooning (The charmingly titled ‘Fist F—‘ — get a life! —
as overhauled by Foetus), and the computer percussion, lies a heart of
emptiness, a volcano of nothing. So, Trent Reznor has a sick sense of humour.
Just don‘t let him get away with this one middle-digit-raised salute.