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Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (1994)

January 29, 2013

Broken New Year’s Resolution #2: Be Happy

[Album 140/1001]220px-Nine_Inch_Nails_The_Downward_Spiral_300x300_pixels

The album title could have been an indication of the overall tone, a concept album focused on the destruction of a man.

It’s tough to argue the recording location didn’t contribute: a rented house in the zip code 90210, a number typically associated with the popular melodramas set in Beverly Hills.

However, instead of sunny scenes and 30-year olds playing teenagers, this particular house had a much more disturbing history: it was also the site of the murder of actress Sharon Tate.

It’s as cheerful as one could expect, given the content & circumstances.

The Downward Spiral lends itself nicely to the side A/B format, especially as the A/B distribution isn’t based solely on running length.

The longer Side A contains the relentless tracks 1-9.  Closer of course is renowned for its memorably vulgar chorus, but the layering shouldn’t be overlooked and the piano fade out is a nice touch.

Side B is (relatively) more subdued & atmospheric, a welcome respite after the industrial barrage of its flip side.  A Warm Place signposts the instrumental direction that would later win Mr. Reznor an Academy Award (Best Original Score for The Social Network).  The finale, Hurt, has a great dissonant chord that makes the song.

The Downward Spiral is perhaps the bleakest record in recent memory to have such commercial success.

Happy?  Not for an instant.  Highest point of the industrial genre? Quite possibly.

From → 1990s

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