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Year Zero Remixed
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"Es la imagen que se refleja en el espejo de la experimentación electrónica, el reverso, más tenebroso de ""Year Zero"". Cada tema del aquél disco tiene su alter ego en este, a modo de reinterpretación por parte de artistas y activistas de la vanguardia como Fennesz, Ladytron, The Faint u Olof Dreijer (The Knife).
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Mention spéciale pour Saul Williams et ladytron qui ont su donner une autre dimension aux titres remixés, parfois même des paroles ou il n'y en avait pas(guns by computer).
Chouette packaging et un bonus dvd rom qui propose de remixer soit même l'album original et de faire apparaitre ses oeuvres sur le site de nin!
Trent Reznor confirme qu'il reste bien l'un des musiciens les plus avantgardistes de son époque.
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Sometimes remix albums can truly suck, but both "Further Down the Spiral" (1995) and "Things Falling Apart" (2000) were good, (especially the former) so one should expect something of quality for a "Year Zero" remix album. But even though I expected Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D to be good, I was surprised by how good I found it.
Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D is a little different from past NIN remix albums in that several other artists were brought in to remix individual songs. Each artist, such as Ladytron, the Faint, Saul Williams, Stephen Morris & Gillian Gilbert etc, put their own unique spin on the songs, so each track sounds pretty unique from the one that preceded it, yet everything works and it makes for a very interesting listen. The result is a remix album that sounds like a bunch of artists screwed around with "Year Zero," warped it, and then put it back together. Because several different artists stylized each song uniquely, Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D is always taking twists and turns, and one never knows where one will wind up. And while some remix songs are rather tedious, every track on Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D is thoroughly engrossing, and I say that as someone who generally doesn't like remixes.
If you own "Year Zero" and like it, Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D is highly recommended as a companion piece. But even if you don't own that album, fans of dance/electronica remixes will get something out of Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D, as these tracks all sound great. Although one can appreciate this CD more fully if one is familiar with "Year Zero."
Leading up to this release I listened to my entire NIN library a couple of times (includes nearly every Halo 'cept for certain spendy singles) and I must say that year after year Trent continues to push himself creatively and artistically forward project after project to find new, yet familiar soundscapes to sonically paint on and in. Y34RZ3R0R3MIX3D is a different approach to his now usual routine that follows every major studio release he does; the remix album. It's not jaw-droppingly different, but still sounds unique, and I found that to be exciting and inspiring.
His collaboration with Saul Williams on this (and producing Saul's stunning new album "Niggy Tardust") is breathtaking as is breaking out of his normal creative cocoon and jamming with so many different bands and composers then weaving their approaches of these cuts into his own, hitting "puree" in the mixing booth and coming up with something unusual and cool on every track.
This is not meant to be played softly in the background at your next social function (and if you didn't care for "With Teeth" or "Year Zero", stay FAR away from these modern NIN waters, you won't like them/it either).
Instead, for maximum results, I recommend how I enjoyed it so much on my first pass - with a good set of real ear googles, a healthy volume, minimal distractions and the desire to hear Trent surprise all of us once again by being unpredictable and in my opinion, brilliant.
One last thing, the "make your own mix" thing is totally cool. How often do you see an artist present their material in that way and allow the fan to make their own art from it and then get to share it?? HUGE F-ING PROPS to Trent Reznor!!
The biggest show-stopper is Ladytron's version of "The Beginning Of The End." They take what was already Reznor's most danceable song since "Closer," and make it even more danceable. But the remix is just as gloriously doom-laden as the original, with even deeper bass, on echoing keyboards rather than guitar. Additional keyboards in the second half add a lot of ominous atmosphere. The guitar solo in the original is worked into the end of the remix, and serves as a good crescendo. It's the rare case of an alternate version that is significantly different from the original, but is every bit as good. It's also a lot better than most of Ladytron's own work.
Another attraction is Saul Williams' revision of "Survivalism." The original version was aggressive, but I always found it kind of plodding. It just didn't have the same energetic kick as, say, "The Beginning Of The End," and it didn't have anything original in the way of beats and riffs, either. The remix is completely different. The aggression is gone, replaced by trippy ambience and slower, more subtle beats. Most of the noise, including Reznor's snarling vocal, is now submerged in the murk. In the end, part of the chorus is repeated in a floating, disembodied falsetto. I really think that this version fits the paranoid, unsettling imagery of the song's video and the Year Zero concept better than the original.
These two tracks also sound great back-to-back, although they are different in style. Interestingly, the best remixes on the album tend to be the ones that take a certain element that was suggested by the original, and then take that element as far as possible. For instance, Modwheelmood's version of "The Great Destroyer" omits the drum freak-out, and leaves only Reznor's calm chanting, set to acoustic strumming in the verses, distorted and made to sound distant in the chorus. I like the original more, but the slow burn of the remix is also enjoyable.
On the other hand, Olof Dreijer's take on "Me, I'm Not" is awful. The original was a spooky trip-hop soundscape, full of looming menace. You'd figure that would be ideal territory for The Knife, but Dreijer turns in what basically amounts to "Silent Shout," minus about 95% of the synths, i.e. a house beat and some incidental noises, which go on without end. It is very boring.
Some tracks aren't remarkable one way or the other. Bill Laswell's remix of "Vessel" is pretty much the same as the original, with minor variations in the beginning and middle. The Faint clearly have no idea what to do with "Meet Your Master," so they glitch up the vocals and try to make the beat more danceable, in the process losing the dynamics of the original, while gaining nothing. The remix of "My Violent Heart" is notable for being authored by a "regular" NIN fan, but unfortunately nothing else about it is interesting -- he just takes the original song and makes the rhythm track a lot louder and more dissonant, again losing the dramatism of the original while making it much less listenable.
And sometimes, radically changing the originals just doesn't work very well. The Epworth Phones remix of "Capital G" turns the song into a flamboyant house anthem, wrapping altered samples of the screeching guitars around the dance beat. But it also has the flavour of a "typical remix" in the way it pointlessly repeats, cuts up, and alters the original vocals, which were key to the impact of the song. All told, I prefer the original, with the less conventional time signature and the vocals intact. And without the incredible, constantly mutating bass line from the original album, Stefan Goodchild's "The Warning" is not very interesting.
The last three remixes follow the same order as on the original album. Kronos Quartet contribute a straightforward reading of "Another Version Of The Truth" on classical violin, which is just as moody as the original and somewhat reminiscent of Godspeed You Black Emperor in their better moments. Christian Fennesz strips the overbearing percussion out of "In This Twilight," and with the increased emphasis on the words and vocals, it becomes clear that the song is very well-written, and probably Reznor's best ballad (better than "Hurt" -- yes, I said it!). Finally, New Order do something similar to "Zero Sum," cleaning up the hissing percussion and replacing most of it with a dark techno pulse, which accents the rueful tone of the vocals quite well. (They do the same thing for "God Given" as well, and it works there too, although that song is more obviously suited to such a treatment.)
Overall, the whole thing is worth a listen. A lot of it serves as a reminder of how strong the original songs are. The best couple of tracks, particularly "The Beginning Of The End," are good enough to take on the originals. It's fun to imagine that some of these modifications might cause Reznor himself to change his approach in the future.
1) As far as remixes go (and there are plenty of free user-made remixes of this album out there which aren't bad) I typically find remixes to feel like an afterthought and not as good as the originals. But this collection of updated versions are as good as the originals, and I've listened to them all at least 20 times so far. At least.
2) If you make music you'll love the fact that there's a second disc with all of the songs from the original album split out by high-quality source tracks and usable in Garageband, Ableton Live, etc. No one else has done this and it's pretty admirable -- one more example of Trent Reznor treating his fans with respect and providing them with what they really want.
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