Sunday, May 11, 2008

I Keep Slipping...

Ah...now that all that birthday jazz is out of the way I'd like to sit down and share my thoughts with you on the new NIN album "The Slip".

I've been absorbing it since it first became available to download directly from nin.com for free on May 5th. Although it was created in what seems to only be a few short weeks after the release of "Ghosts I-IV" it is an excellent album and I think it speaks volumes to the amount of talent Trent has as an artist to be able to crank something like this out so soon. Yes, I was very critical of "Echoplex" when it was first leaked on the interwebs and, while it will never be a favorite song, I see it has a definite place on this record and it has grown on me.

Now when it comes down to the music I could detach myself and play the hipster bitch role and rant about the shortcomings of this album but I cannot bring myself to it because at the end of the day I still absolutely fucking LOVE this. Trent eases us into things with “999,999”, which reminds me of “Pinion” in its slow build, and then we’re hit with a wall of noisy, almost retro feeling backbeats, dirty synths, and distorted guitars that Trent has consistently perfected from album to album and that continues to get your blood pumping, your teeth gritting, and your feet tapping. It’s non-stop from “1,000, 000” straight through to “Head Down”. The lyrics are typically dark in NIN fashion but the choruses are catchy and easily get stuck in your head (“Echoplex” included).

It should be no surprise to our regular readers that “Lights in the Sky” is my favorite song from this release but what shocked me is how it has taken the number one place of all time favorite NIN tracks, a short list that included "AATCHB" and "TDTWWA" and that I never expected to change. "LitS" is unbelievably beautiful. It consists of just a piano, Trent’s voice which is barely a whisper at times, and some of the most haunting lyrics since, dare I say it, “Hurt”. Like other songs in the NIN catalog, “LitS” could be interpreted to be about the struggle with his own drug addiction and I suppose my take on it isn't far from that theory but I hear it as a continuation to “The Fragile”. Almost as if he’s reexamining that relationship after many years of neglect. Back then he was saying “I won’t let you fall apart” which was the most endearing thing considering he was barely in any condition to take care of himself let along hold someone else’s sanity together. "She" may not have been perfect either but she was clearly some kind of rock for him and as long as she was okay he could be, too. Now, years later, he’s got his shit together but he finds that she has not survived the struggle of her own issues. He may have believed in her once but it was not enough to save her. It would seem at this point she is too far gone to bring back but he won’t leave her again. For better or worse, he’s there...

“watching you drown
i'll follow you down
and i am here right beside you
the lights in the sky
have finally arrived
i am staying right beside you”
Call it projection if you will but you cannot deny this song was meant to break your heart. Goddamn, Trent, just Goddamn.

The transition from song to song on the last half of the record is sheer perfection. "LitS" melds flawlessly into "Corona Radiata" and then to"The Four of Us Are Dying". Although “Ghosts” was arranged the way it was for a purpose, I wish it could have done what “The Slip” accomplished here. Overall it is a well balanced album from lyrical to instrumental and I'm pleased to hear it finished off with something with a little bite to it in "Demon Seed". Too often Trent ends things with a soft song which while that technique is usually great and blows your mind, it's nice have one that leaves you wanting more music and not just a dark corner to hide in.

Some have been speculating this is possibly "Year Zero: Part 2" and with the artwork released with the download it does seem there could be a puzzle to figure out. So far it is still unsolved if there is actually something there. I’m a bit skeptical that this is a continuation of the ARG. Something doesn’t feel right about it but we shall see if any “mysterious items” are found at the upcoming summer shows as happened last year when the game kicked off. I’ll leave the hunting up to other fans because I am NOT searching the port-a-potties for USB flash drives on Day 3 at Lollapalooza in August when NIN closes out the festival. A line must be drawn somewhere.

If you haven't downloaded "The Slip" yet you should get on it. Immediately! Have I mentioned it's FREE? From nin.com, Trent says:
"Thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years - this one's on me."
There are multiple options available for sound quality. There is a 216kpbs MP3 version available for immediate download which isn't too bad or Trent is also offering the higher quality versions as torrents and provides some links to a couple helpful "how to" guides for those who may not be familiar with the torrenting process. As a businessman you just have to use the technology that works and it's not exactly "illegal" if the artists himself is the one offering it up. Am I right? If you're curious about what it sounds like before you download you can check the whole album out here.

34 comments:

thedave said...

I loved your message you sent me the other day on my myspace...i have been meaning to respond to you but i wanted to do so when i had more time to formulate my thoughts....the review i just read here on your blog captures the essence of LitS perfectly....though i think the person still cares for her and wants to help but not in the same capacity of a relationship....this song to me hit me like a fist in terms of what has been going on in my own personal life....it stopped me in my tracks.

The song i keep coming back to is 1,000,000...again i loved what your wrote about it and i can't believe how raw some of the lyrics are either....it really forced me to examine where i am at in my life and where i am going and address reasons why things aren't happening for me...feeling my age a bit (34) lines like ......
"should have happened by now
got these lines
on my face
after all this time
and i still haven’t found my place"
...really gets to me...like if something hasn't happened by now it probably isn't going to....and if it's not then whats the point anymore. It is easy for me to give up but what this song does for me is really inspire me to really take a stand and give my art everything i have to succeed because the alternative would to be just end it all now.

I feel so incredibly alive right now...something happened to me a few months back that gave me this same type feeling of it is now or never....and i started producing work at an incredible rate and i haven't stopped since...i seem to be constantly rewarded in all these different ways like new albums or good things happening to me..and meeting new like minded friends that totally inspire me....this new album is a f**cking driving force to me. I haven't stopped listening to it....

Iris said...

Heya Dave! Glad you popped on over. For those who don't know Dave, his artwork/comic work rocks my socks. Did you ever finish your entry for the Ghosts film fest? You were doing #25, weren't you?

"1,000,000" is an EXCELLENT song! And like I was telling you the other day I know it's probably not PC or whatever (not that Trent has EVER been confused for that) but my favorite part of the song is:

put the gun
in my mouth
close your eyes
blow my fucking brains out
pretty patterns
on the floor
that’s enough for you
but i still need more, more, more


This is the song I was referring to in the review about getting your blood pumping and your teeth gritting. I love it! Ooh! And then the pause in the middle...when you think it's over...it kicks back in and you find you're pumping your fist in the air. It's a little bit like "Wish" where it gives you half a second to catch your breath and then get slammed again.

caro80120 said...

i' m french so my english isn't good but thank you for your message.
i can say i love nin music for longtime so i think this new album is very balanced :at one and the same time accessible and very different in comparison with the french radio music.you find in this album every one what can do trent reznor with nin but surprise miss it and i didn't find The song who do i say "whoua"(like the great destroyer or and all could have been or hurt)BUT i love this album and i want to see Nin play him.

Iris said...

I think I get what you're saying Caro and I'm glad you stopped in.

Well balanced, accessible and different from French radio. I don't know much French music but I have heard of Yelle, who is apparently straight up pop trash but I still like it. Can't help it.

I need a little more help with the second half of your comment but I get that you weren't able to find that one really special song like "The Great Destroyer", "And All That Could Have Been", or "Hurt". I can respect that but I stand by "Lights in the Sky". It might take some time for people to understand it, I don't know, but when I first heard it it hit me like a ton of bricks.

If I were able to ask Trent a question about any song on this album I'd have to ask what the fuck was up with sampling a yowling cat and a crying baby at the end of "Corona Radiata". The whole song is great up to that point but that just kind of throws you off. After a couple listens you don't notice it much anymore but it just seems so random and bizarre.

JR said...

Who, exactly, was that "hipster bitch" comment aimed at?



I'm leery of this new record.

I know you wrote a glowing review, Iris, but that's not exactly a ringing endorsement coming from you. And you spend a lot of time in the review referring to previous stuff...which makes me think the progress I would be looking for hadn't really happened.


So I remain leery. I know it's a free download, but that's not good enough for me.

Iris said...

Fucking hell, JR. Not everything is about you, deary. The "hipster bitch" reference was just a flippant comment that if I wanted to find fault with this album I probably could just as anyone could with any NIN album. But like I said, at the end of the day, I honestly really like this album. I wasn't looking for some Earth shattering, conceptual piece (not in the small amount of time this was created in) but I do think it has more depth to it than what first appears on the surface if you give it the chance.

And everyone refers back to Trent's earlier work. Isn't that what you're doing here when you say "Well I don't think this will move me like he used to."?

If you were to listen to the album you'd hear that "999,999" sounds nothing like "Pinion". The only similarities are that both are instrumentals used as intros to albums with a gradual build up to some kick ass songs.

And the reason I referred to "The Fragil" with "LitS" is because 1.) I haven't really been knocked on my ass like that by a song since "The Fragile" and 2.) because subject matter-wise it just seems to makes sense. He's not rewriting the same song; he's (possibly) expanding on it and it's God damned beautiful. I say possibly because who really knows what's going on in that head of his. But I mean...FUCK...did you even listen to it, JR?

I think Trent is kicking up his heels with his new found freedom and we're getting the byproducts of it. And I say good for him. It's of course not going to resonate with everyone (obviously) nor is every song going to be an unprecedented stroke of pure genius. "Echoplex is still a little -meh- to me and I could probably do without "Letting You" but I think it's a fun album and I'm willing to roll with that.

Iris said...

Uh..hey you guys...I think I may have just cracked the artwork puzzle code.

DA and JR are not going to be pleased.

Anonymous said...

Maybe my imagination's just running wild, but I think the artwork illustrates their respective song titles.

For instance, the art for the song "999,999" looks like six "9's," "1,000,000" looks like a "1" with six "0's," "Letting You" looks like an "L" and a "Y," "Discipline" looks like a "d," "Echoplex" looks like an "e," "Lights in the Sky" looks like it would be some bright radiating object, "Corona Radiata" looks like it would be the sun, or something, with a halo (corona), "The Four of Us Are Dying" is an abstract way of spelling the title (I know because my eldest brother is very fond of this type of art, so my eyes are used to picking this crap up (I meant "crap" in a good way; it's fun stuff)); it shows four "us" words and the word "Dying" is spelt out.

Now, "Head Down" and "Demon Seed" I haven't quite figured out just yet. I'm thinkng "Head Down" looks like a stick figure with its head down, but "Demon Seed" ... hmmm....

So, do I get a cookie? Or, do you want the job completely finished? :p

-thelookingglass

Iris said...

If you're going that route LookingGlass then I would say that "Demon Seed" is obviously a seed growing up out of the ground. You can see the seed (white square on the bottom) and then the other squares are only half formed like it's still growing.

And I prefer Rice Krispie treats. :D

Iris said...

And holy shit you guys! Saul Williams is OFFICIALLY playing Lollapalooza this year too (look for red print about half way down the list)!

Trent and Saul are SO going to invade each other's sets.

OMFG I'M SO EXCITED!

Thank you for the tip off, Maise!

Anonymous said...

Iris, I think you be right on the "Demon Seed" art. Unfortunately, I have no Rice Krispie treats. :(

Now, I wonder if there's something more to the red lines that appear on some of the art images. ...hmm...

-thelookingglass

Iris said...

Unfortunately you're on your own with the red strings. I don't have any theories. But I am curious how you liked or disliked the album.

maise said...

Hi everyone!

I've stayed quiet on this topic because I haven't really had the opportunity to absorb "The Slip" like I'd prefer because I was having major issues with itunes, and I FINALLY got it working again by doing a pain-in-the-ass uninstall/reinstall (OMG, I need to throw my computer out the window) and finding my music, which was scattered to the four winds on my computer. So I was up til 3 in the morning last night, but I no longer feel like I'm going to tear my hair out.

So give me some time, and I'll have some thoughts on all this soon. My first reaction, though, is that I love this album. Once again, it's a departure from anything Trent's done before, and it represents the beginning of a new era of creative freedom for him. And for the record, I love Echoplex.

Meanwhile, it's been a hard week at Chez Maise. We lost our beloved 9-year-old chinchilla to cancer Sunday night, so I'm still in mourning. I swear, putting an animal to sleep is one of the saddest things anyone ever has to do.

Zeemort said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Zeemort said...

I think someone on ETS said that the artwork is based on each song.
I know that ETS is not exactly a hub of intelligentsia but I think they might be right.

It's most apparent for 999999 and 1,000000 but some of the rest I'm not seeing.

Also maise, sorry about your chinchilla. I hear you on having to have pets put down. Somehow the conversation of my first dog came up in class today. We had him put down somewhere near 2 years ago and I still get bleary-eyed about it now.
On the other hand, it's good to know that you've prevented their suffering, and to be perfectly blunt, it's better than finding them .. "gone". Which is what happened with a couple of my rats.

Man, fuck this. I'm gonna go do something childish and cheery or I'll be sniffling again.

maise said...

I'm loving Iris's interpretation of the artwork. GENIUS, as usual!

D:ANGEL said...

Maise -

Sorry about your chinchilla. I had one dog from 5-18 years old and when we had to put her down I was crushed. I'm 34 now and still have her collar - evertime I get it out it makes me want to cry.

But Maise, THE SLIP?

"Once again, it's a departure from anything Trent's done before"

Seriously? I let you have that comment back, if you want it, with no penalty. You can't be serious (insert John McEnroe voice here).

maise said...

I am serious.

And don't call me Shirley.

This album is about creative freedom...sure the synths are the same, but when has Trent ever made anything that sounded like "Corona Radiata" (which sounds more like something off of "Kid A" than any NIN album) or "Demon Seed"? Sure, he's written confessionals before, like the stagy suicide notes of The Downward Spiral and The Fragile, but when has he ever revealed to us his fear that he is OLD and UNCOOL? Again, I haven't had the chance to listen to this as much as I'd like, but this album is beautiful.

D:ANGEL said...

Lyrically I agree.

Musically - it just sounds like more of the same...

in any event to call it "a departure from anything Trent's done before" seems like a tad bit of an overstatement.

JR said...

Alright, alright.

I've taken my earrings off, slipped my good headphones on, and I am endeavoring to "try before I buy" and listen to this via YouTube.

Let's seee how far I get.



(PS - Iris: no, not everything is about me. But it'd be more interesting if it was. I know that I haven't battled drug addiction like Trent, but I am a control freak. And I haven't written the same record four times...yet.)

Anonymous said...

All right, so I had to take the time to listen through the album several times and then focus on each individual song a few times to try and form complete coherent thoughts about The Slip. Writing's not my forte, so please forgive me if I give the impression that I'm mentally retarded. Anyhoo, without further ado, my thoughts:

Overall, I enjoyed the album. I agree that it has a raw feel to it, the lyrics are touching, and musically it's a bit this-sounds-familiar. Sadly, none of the songs of The Slip break into my top 3 all time favourite NIN songs, but they're still pretty good. Also, I agree that the album flows well from song to song, especially with how "Lights in the Sky" just melds with "Corona Radiata."

I do have a problem with the song "Letting You." Its lyrics make it sound as if it was meant for Year Zero and just thrown into this album for some padding. I don't know. To me, the song just doesn't seem to fit. It's still a good song, though.

I appreciate the honesty of the lyrics. And, I love the arrangement of the songs based on the content of their lyrics (with "Letting You" as an exception.) The album starts off with Trent asking "How did I slip into this?" at the end of "999,999" (I think that's what he says; correct me if I'm wrong,) then, with the next few songs, he goes on to contemplate his place in life at the age he's at now, the decisions he's made, and how he may not have accomplished everything he had hoped to at this stage. With "Lights in the Sky" he's coming into his own; he's "come to realize we all have our place," that "time has a way to make it clear," and his "role in this" is finally "clearly defined." Next, "Corona Radiata" seems to be the rebirth of TR. I've read on the ninternet other people's take on the artwork of the song. So, I didn't know that corona radiata is the "layer of follicle cells surrounding an ovum." Makes sense, the artwork does resemble an ovum with a layer around it. Plus, the song starts out with a calm ambience sound and gradually becomes heavier with layers of noise toward the end, and at the very end there's like a swooshy, tunnel noise and what sounds like a baby cry. Rebirth, anyone? Maybe that's why "Lights in the Sky" blends into "Corona Radiata" so well. This self-acceptance leads to a rebirth of sorts. Continuing on, intensity starts to build again with "The Four of Us are Dying" which leads to the upbeat, self-confident "Demon Seed." "Now I know what this is all about, now I know exactly what I am," Trent proudly proclaims as he has found/realized what makes him TR.

Lastly, the artwork. I love the artwork. The abstract art goes so well with the raw sound of the songs. It seems unfinished, like there should be more to complete the picture, but it's that bareness that affects you. It intrigues you. You want to keep digging to find more to it, to get a better grasp on it, but there's no need since it's all there, layed out in its pure, naked form.

Oh yeah, if you didn't realize, I was referring to both the artwork and the songs.

Hope I made sense.

-thelookingglass

(Random thought: doesn't "Corona Radiata" sound like it could be in a Silent Hill game?)

Anonymous said...

Oh yes, I forgot to mention that maybe The Slip is the beginning of something new for TR. I don't know; that's just the feeling I get from the raw aspect and that whole rebirth thing.

-thelookingglass

Iris said...

Well that's an interesting theory but then what do the cats yowling at the end of "Corona Radiata" represent in the rebirth scenario? But why would "The Four of Us Are Dying" come after the rebirth? Who's dying?

JR said...

I'm relying on this place to give me my NIN related news, so I ask: what's the latest with the YouTube video project related to Ghosts? Or has that gone the road of the ARG and been forgotten as The Slip has been sprung on us?

Iris said...

I haven't heard anything about it lately. The contest was supposed to end sometime in May (no specific date) but I haven't been able to find any other details. I have noticed they haven't added any more videos to the group in the past two weeks or so. Don't know if that means they're getting ready to make some decisions.

They still haven't announced when the tickets are to go on sale for the Inglewood show which makes me wonder if they've got something brewing for that.

Another curiosity is there is a place in LA called Echoplex. They've also got a picture on their sidebar of the "Echoplex" song artwork but I think that has more to do with Flickr tags then an actual confirmation of NIN doing anything there. Although it does seem like a cozy venue for a film festival...maybe.

Wish we knew someone out in LA who could go check it out...hmmm...I dunno...maybe a boy and his wondercat?

thedave said...

"The Four of Us Are Dying" is a episode of the twilight zone.

Iris said...

Oh that's right! I forgot I'd read about that. It's about a guy who can physically change his face to look like different people. I suppose in LG's theory that could be Trent in all his transformations as an artist and that the guy dies in the end of that episode could mean what? That Trent will have just his reborn self and moving in another direction? Maybe I'm reading too much into it. I'm no good at conspiracy theories.

D:ANGEL said...

methinks you might know other people in LA who like NIN enough to go...

Iris said...

But he doesn't have an awesome cat to act as his bodyguard.

D:ANGEL said...

True.

JR said...

I heard AngelCat is over NIN, though, so it's going to be a tough sell.

Iris said...

Well if Angelcat is going to plan an attack don't you think it would be pertinent for him to know the layout of a potential target site? Or is Angelcat just that fucking ninja that he plans on the fly?

JR said...

AngelCat is so ninja that the attack already happened and no one noticed.

*poof*

Anonymous said...

"I suppose in LG's theory that could be Trent in all his transformations as an artist and that the guy dies in the end of that episode could mean what? That Trent will have just his reborn self and moving in another direction?"

Hey, that's exactly what I was thinking!

As for the cats yowling, I was a little confused on that when I first heard "Corona Radiata," but then I remembered that sometimes babies sound like cats when they're first born. Maybe that could be it?

-thelookingglass