The new Nine Inch Nails record was officially released today, but I bought a copy at Coachella on Sunday. Now I can admit to having had it for a month, and having listened to it aproximately 7231 times since then. Yesterday I posted a look back at one of my personal favorite CD's of all time on blogcritics.org, 1994's The Downward Spiral, and today have posted up my review of the new one, With Teeth, which as my review makes abundantly clear, I love very much. My thoughts on The Downward Spiral can be found here, and my review of With Teeth is here.
People, it's a big day for me, because, as some of you know, my only other previous public writing has been sports coverage. It's always easy to write, because at the end of the day, if you screw it up somehow, it's only a bike race. Bike races are comforting, because you get to see this glorious human performance, and at the end of the day, someone wins, so you know who was good and who wasn't. Art isn't easy, because for every person who loves and thrills to one work, there are more who can't really see it, or hate its guts. Bike races don't need audiences to be what they are, though. Art does. When you write insensitively or badly about works of art, you create a bad place for them in the world, and that's truer for popular art forms more than any other. Music journalism, in particular, is so revoltingly dominated by hacks with no idea what makes art good that I have always said I would never dirty my hands with it; but now I have. I hope it's not retarded.
I've said before on this blog that when I love works of art, it's with whole-hearted gratitiude to them that made it for showing me the things I most needed to see. Works of art that pull me in a way not unlike the way the moon pulls the tide have always confronted me with a moment when hearing becomes response, and response becomes love in the impossible space between the voice of an other and my surrender to it, when the great gulf of that difference is transformed into shimmering echoes and a correspondence that makes me buzz with desire and imagination. T. S. Eliot once said that response to a work of art can only truly come after having surrendered oneself completely to it, and recoving a self that has been changed by it. I think that's true, and if it is, then I am qualified to write these two reviews.
Finally, here's a picture that totally captures my glee immediately following the immense pleasure of being squeezed senseless by 30,000 people while Trent Reznor rocked Coachella. Just to put the entire notion of hip, ironic detachment to bed for fucking ever, not that there's even a scrap of it left on this website.