I'm not going to beat around the bush on this one, kids. I'm just going to tell you outright that Nine Inch Nails auteur Trent Reznor has a permanent place in this girl's heart.
There was a time, some 10 years ago, when I was seriously on pins and needles as to what might next emerge from Reznor's New Orleans funeral home batcave; a time when I was filled with the kind of worry and apprehension that he would falter that accompanies an emotional investment in an artist's output which could be considered a little obsessive. (Go ahead, Matt. Laugh it up.) Could Reznor match the genius of The Downward Spiral in future work? I was HANGING on the answer to that question, as if all my hopes for the transcendency of mankind hinged on it. People, I was a big fan of Nine Inch Nails.
At the time, I was up to my neck in politicized postmodern and feminist aesthetic theories, and also, experiencing a full-on existential crisis (a story for another day). Suffice it to say that The Downward Spiral was my #1 soundtrack for awhile, and Trent Reznor was my favorite kinky, rubberized angel. I was riveted by the astounding effectiveness of his feral animal schtick, and the way his work was obssessed with objectivity and control, all the while distancing his squeamish narrative "i" from the archetypal powers of his Ultimate Object (all you out there who've ever read any postmodern feminist theory will know the object of which I speak). I was rapt at the way he framed his broken-hearted wretchedness and masochistic sexual stylings in so much raw competence and aggression as to manufacture a positively riveting relationship between himself and his audience, because as much as his literal and figurative sense rejected The Object and it's Powers, he was so clearly and impressively the master of them that his performances were a veritable exercize in penetration. I positively adored the way that heady mixture of over-intended, pure, dominating egotism, and totally Julia Kristeva Powers of Horror-worthy abjection and shame fueled Reznor's stage persona, producing slavish armies of sweaty little dominatrixes and boys in fishnets and eyeliner, feeling all naughty and conflicted, except in their desire to make sweet love to their cornstarch-coated rock and roll fetish doll; a reaction which rightfully intensified Reznor's reasons for nuclear weapons grade angst. Good shit, people.
That last paragraph sounded good (and hilarious) to me while I was writing it, give or take a run-on sentence or two, but it throws into laughable relief my disingenuous desire to make it seem as if all my reasons for obsession with the Prince of Darkness were aesthetically scientific and held at a safe intellectual distance. In fact, I was powerless against his pale, waxen beauty in photographs, and undone by his soft-spoken intelligence in interviews. I had nothing but admiration for his complete mastery of the pregnant heavy metal pause, and the way he geekily tinkered away on works of metal madness that featured 75 separate guitar parts on one song, very likely in a darkened basement with his computer. Most importantly, I enviously loved his ability to express his full-throttle rage at volumes that actually made it seem hotter in the venue, and the way he seriously looked like if he didn't bring it down a couple notches, someone was going to put an eye out. Personally, I've never felt free to break that kind of shit out, but god knows I'd like to. I saw the Nine Inch Nails show a few times back then, and all I'm saying is that I loved the way the molten intensity of the sheer volume seemed to liquify my very bones while I breathed in the violence and raged vicariously through Trent Reznor. Also, sweet jesus, was he ever 5 foot 6 inches of pure dirty. Have I mentioned how much I loved that guy?
Since then, I have to admit that I've found it hard to follow along with Mr. Reznor in that level of continued total hysteria. It seems to me that one cannot rage full-on for all of one's adult life on the same tired old topics. When his last full-length effort seemed to have moments of being disappointingly free of interesting process(*), and his self-presentation started including big muscles and an orangey sort of tan, I moved on to some other angst-peddlers that seemed more in keeping with the tone of my changing times (cough, RADIOHEAD, cough). Still, the other day, when I purchased a ticket to see Keanu Reeves rock some very fetching trousers in Constantine, I was intrigued to be handed, along with my ticket, a glossy little card with the telltale letters "NIN" on it, with a record release date on the other side, and my dormant affection for The Rez flared up enough for me to write this blog post.
Apparently, it's called With Teeth, and oh man, how I hope it's a good one. I must say, though, that Reznor's recent assessment of his latest line-up's preparations to hit the road that ends with the statement "We are preparing to destroy you," doesn't really do much to buoy my hopes for some reason. Nevertheless, hope springs eternal, and residual admiration dictates that he will have however long it takes of my undivided attention to give this latest effort its proverbial day in court.
I'm a little nervous, but I'm game. Bring on the cornstarch.
(*That needed some qualification. It's below, in the comments.)