When Trent Reznor released The Fragile I was genuinely pleased for a number of reasons: 1) it doesn't sound like Closer*, 2) it doesn't sound like Marilyn Manson and 3) it doesn't sound like the Rap-Metal (Limp Bizkit) or Christian Grunge (Creed) currently clogging the rock radio toilet.
Things Falling Apart is a collection of "remixes" of songs appearing on The Fragile, a cover and one or two songs that didn't make the album. As usual the remixes, as with most** recent NIN remixes, devolve into forgettable studio masturbation, boring noise fests or anemic minimalism. Things Falling Apart does have some fine moments, but for the most part it's for hardcore fans only. The rest of you should listen to a friend's copy*** before you buy: caveat emptor deluxe.
Slipping Away - A muddy boot stomp mechanically cut with tinny string rhythms, giving way to 303 synthetics. Trent chants "myself keeps slipping away" for the fifth time and you realize that this is a remix of Into the Void. Six minutes of well disguised 80's synth funk, grind and noise that fans of harder Nails might prefer over the original.
The Great Collapse - A cruddy bass rhythm over a spare beat, sci-fi sounding samples, burnt metal guitar bends. Trent screaming, "Now you know this is what it feels like," clues you to the fact this is a remix of The Wretched.
The Wretched - Plenty of tension and build up, dirty electronics and "computer printer screeches." Effectively minimalist. Gradually assembled from the basic song elements, slapping on new noise here and there, and bearing the raw viscera of a naked acoustic guitar and cold beats.
Starfuckers (Version 1) - A long intro of garbled song fragments frosted with the song chorus, with the bass equalized out of existence and unfamiliar beeps and ticks rising to the top. Like trying to listen to the stereo while your roommate is vacuuming.
The Frail - A few seconds of "it sounds like the printer is jammed" type noises make way for the bare melody played on strings. The "office noise" returns with other found sounds mixed in like turds floating in an emerald sea.
Starfuckers (Version 2) - The perfectly sequenced old-school synth rhythms sound precisely like 80s Skinny Puppy. An homage? A superior non-guitar version of the original. Oh, here's the reason why it sounds like Skinny Puppy: it was remixed by their longtime producer David Oglivie.
Where Is Everybody? - Like dub without a good bass and drums. Roboto rhythms and lots of wild studio tweaking.
Metal - A cover of the Gary Newman song. Trent's best cover since Get Down Make Love. A nice homage, but not as good as the original.
10 Miles High - Sounds like the Pixies doing Industrial. Excluded from The Fragile, and it's obvious why: it just plain sucks. Repetitive and boring.
Starfuckers (Version 3) - Sounds like the beginning of Caddy Shack right before the Kenny Loggins song starts, I'm not kidding. A minimal kick-drum beat leads to the type of cacophony we expect, which by now is predictable and boring.
Hard core fans will eat this up and speak for eternity about its greatness - and with luck, bombard the Legendsmagazine.net forums with flames. For the rest of us, keep listening to The Fragile and wait 5 years for the next un-remixed album.
* Yes, Closer is sinfully delicious, but would you want Trent to follow a cookie cutter strip club anthem path to success?
** Al Jourgensen's remix of Sin is my favorite.
*** Like you haven't downloaded it from Napster already. Shame on you! Shame on all of you!