Gut Reaction – The Fragile : Deviations 1

I don’t often start vomiting out words of praise on a first run of an album, but since the album is from Nine Inch Nails and that album is a bizarro world take on the classic The Fragile called The Fragile : Deviations 1 I felt it was okay to do so. So here’s a few thoughts upon dropping the needle.

I knew what I was getting into when I handed over my money card digits back in December and preordered what was being touted as an instrumental version of Trent Reznor’s ode to nervous breakdowns and substance abuse, 1999s The Fragile. Even when The Fragile was released way back before we could ever imagine a world where Donald Trump could be voted in as the leader of the free world, I wasn’t all that into NIN. I got my copy of The Fragile for free by calling in and answering a question on the local alternative radio station during a lunch time program. I drove an hour to the tiny radio station in September of 1999 and got my winnings in the form of a double CD and listened to it on the way home. This was the first time I ever really liked something from NIN. But still, it didn’t really sink in for me till 2005s With Teeth(my best friend and I did get stoned and watch scenes from Star Wars with “The Wretched” soundtracking it, so that was cool.) But with With Teeth, that’s when the teen angst that was supposed to fuel my NIN love was replaced with adult angst and I found myself screaming “Don’t You Fucking Know What You Are!!!” on my way to work in the mornings. Year Zero was another favorite as well, with Reznor making an intimate and angry electronic record for all to enjoy. But it wasn’t until Ghosts I-IV came out in 2008 that I found myself head over heals for this guy that was so angry in my youth. Instrumental pieces that felt like mini-suites of anger and desolation, I thought to myself I’d love to hear Reznor start scoring films. Two years later him and Atticus Ross began a fruitful scoring career with David Fincher, and so began my love of everything Trent Reznor.

This brings me to The Fragile : Deviations 1. For the person that absolutely LOVES Reznor’s film work this record is for you(meaning me, but it could be you, too.) There was always something very cinematic about The Fragile. At times I felt that beautiful and ugly melodrama was wasted on words and screaming, so with the vocals removed the record takes on a whole new meaning and feel. Instead of hearing a man’s descent into lovelorn, chemically induced madness it sounds as if we’re hearing the score to a faintly familiar film that we can’t quite place. I’m currently finishing side 4(there are 8 sides here, guys) and it’s probably one of the cleanest, crisp mixes I’ve heard in a long time. Reznor and Ross have gone back and tweaked the original songs to accentuate certain parts that may have gotten lost in the mix the first time. The buzzsaw guitars are even more biting(as on “Somewhat Damaged” and “We’re In This Together”.) There are also unreleased pieces strewn throughout as well that add a whole other dimension to this record.

I think having a few years of film work under their belts, Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross have learned how to build mood and create aural scenes in the studio. I truly feel that they’re in their element scoring for film. I loved Hesitation Marks and dug Not The Actual Events, but I’m finding myself drawn to records that talk through the music and not lyrics these days. Reznor’s songs resonated with so many not only because of the music but because he was speaking to the disenfranchised with his lyrics. These days Reznor isn’t really the disaffected, pained guy that he once was. Hearing him sing “Head Like A Hole” these days seems a bit much. But hearing him re-imagine that youthful angst and pain into something new and refreshing is quite the thing. What he’s doing here is nothing short of brilliant.

And I’m not even half way through.

These are just gut reactions, folks. There will be a proper review. But for now I’m giving a resounding JHubner73 thumbs up. This record is absolutely stunning. If any of this kind of interests you, grab a copy while you still can. It will only be available on vinyl, with no digital release at all. Maybe he’ll drop some flash drives in various dirty men’s toilets throughout North America and Europe for shits and giggles with the album on it, but that’s it.

Time for another rum and coke and see what else awaits.

5 thoughts on “Gut Reaction – The Fragile : Deviations 1

  1. Intrigued, JH. I think I said this before, but Reznor and NIN just don’t do much for me these days. The soundtrack stuff captured my imagination a few times, but I just didn’t hear it in the right setting. Not all that drawn to this new NIN, but you’ve got me thinking it’s worth a shot (damn you).

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Funny, I’ve only recently been digging some of Trent’s work for the first time since the 90’s. Pretty Hate Machine was one of those albums I got a promo cassette for when it was barely out yet, and living in Buffalo, it was maybe a year before people started getting into him and ‘Industrial music’ as that was becoming it’s own thing. It was the summer of 89′ and I was in summer school at the time, so that album was the perfect soundtrack to my shitty existence those couple months and it was, in retrospect like bubblegum, soooo catchy yet angst ridden, I wore it out and I was over it by the end of the year (looks like it was released in October 89, so I was through with it before it even came out officially!) The thing that album really did was to spread around the term ‘Industrial’ as a genre along with Skinny Puppy and Ministry…those were all being lumped under that banner and I soon found out about TG and Einstruzende etc. and that was the stuff that I really dove into. So NIN was like ‘Bubblegum Industrial’ or ‘Gateway Industrial’ perhaps? Hahahaha! I only peripherally enjoyed some of his albums after PHM when I felt the need for a decent hook or something…a rare occasion then…I wanted noise!!!
    Anyway, working at a music store, I’ve been able to indulge in more music, especially on cd since the used cds where I work are pretty cheap with my discount and just maybe 6 months ago I copped ‘Teeth’ and his release with Ross ‘Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ soundtrack and I just love those albums! They definitely speak to more mature versions of our younger selves that loved his early stuff imo. So I’m glad to hear about this new material and from your perspective. I look forward to checking it out.
    Cheers from SF!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s great! Bubblegum Industrial is a great way to describe those electronic bands of the late 80s and early 90s. It got worse in the mid 90s with Gravity Kills and Powerman 5000.

      I think Reznor bemoans the industrial tag, honestly. Digging into his music as I got older I heard more Depeche Mode, Gary Numan, Suicide and Bowie than what I’d consider industrial. He was a closet pop star that’s true talent was building sonics in the studio. He spoke to that angsty teen in detention and the outsider who wasn’t invited to the cool parties, but he was and is at heart an engineer of noise. That’s why his later work speaks to me so much.

      I think you’d dig his later stuff and soundtrack work. Gone Girl is amazing, as is Before The Flood. And of course Deviations.

      Liked by 1 person

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