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[Absorbing: Pretty_Hate_Machine]

You know that song by The Eagles, "Take It to the Limit"?

I remember riding along with my dad in his truck when I was a little girl, listening to that song -- my dad was a moustache-having big fan of The Eagles, and other stuff of that ilk, back in the day (before he became a magician, and sawed my mother in half) -- and I remember asking my dad, "Dad? Where's the limit? Is that someplace in California?

My dad laughed long and loud, but you know what? I'm the one who's laughing now, because I know where the limit is: it's where our last thread went as soon as someone had to throw down with the Kool-Aid man.

Dudes, that's over. Let's call it a day.

Meanwhile, a good idea was floated. Obviously, we're going to have to think of some ways to pass the long, painful drought of Trent and Trent-related news. As painful as it will assuredly be, we must fare forward without Sparklepants calling his ex-bandmates "assholes" and whatever else he gets up to publically. So, in the meantime, let's have a WTC listening club, to go with our book club, and listen to records together.

I thought, WHAT THE HELL! Why not start right now, with something I'm nearly certain we all have: how about Pretty Hate Machine?

Here's my suggestion: Don't just go off half-cocked right now. I know we all know Trent's second halo pretty fucking well... maybe even TOO WELL. I want you to actually give it a listen, and instead of relying on your already existing impressions, and the fact that Trent can do no wrong, respond to it anew, with today's perspective.

Also, let's bear in mind who made that record, all by his lonesome, in beween cleaning the recording studio toilets, too, because it was THIS GUY:


Isn't he charming?

The other thing that should be posted here, besides all yer all's unstoppably witty banter and in depth considerations of "Ringfinger", is suggestions about what we should listen to together in the future, because sooner or later, we're going to run out of Nine Inch Nails records.

Jane suggested Thom Yorke's solo record The Eraser, and I support that totally, because as soon as I stop loving the bejesus out of Trent*, I totally plan on developing a new passion for Thom. Or, maybe Jarvis. Goddamn, I love Jarvis!

*Good thing that'll be NEVER.

Posted by Dierdre ~ in absorbing | Permalink


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What??? A coherent, positive, human post from Gabriel??? I love it! I put in my resounding YES for a discussion of PHM and The Eraser. Both fine albums.

Posted by: Baal Glyttr | Jul 19, 2006 1:07:41 PM

No, no, Dierdre originally wrote that. Not sure how it was briefly attributed to Gabriel. But I think that it is an excellent idea as well and plan to listen to PHM on my ride back home.

Posted by: maise | Jul 19, 2006 1:08:56 PM

Oops! Nope... it was me, posting while signed into the website using Gabriel name. I had some webmastery to perform, and forgot to change logins when I posted.

Sorry about the confusion. I certainly don't want to ruin Gabriel's rep.

Posted by: Dierdre | Jul 19, 2006 1:09:14 PM

Oh, there's no question that Gabriel has *represented* today.

Posted by: maise | Jul 19, 2006 1:10:58 PM

On the Jarvis tip, I am officially suggesting Pulp's record A Different Class.

Posted by: Dierdre | Jul 19, 2006 1:14:22 PM

I'm drawing a blank on other possible albums...maybe a little Blur, if we're hitting Pulp? Or would it be a little too "same old, same old" to discuss Dresden Dolls' "Yes, Virginia"?

Meanwhile, did DC Comics draw Trent's jaw in that photo? Maybe the Incredible Hulk in him was waiting a looooooong time to emerge...

Posted by: maise | Jul 19, 2006 1:27:29 PM

Trent's a guy with a strong jaw, Maise, what of it?

I'd be up for Yes, Virginia. Plus, maybe we can give Saul Williams his due if we give his self-titled record a spin.

Posted by: Jane | Jul 19, 2006 1:32:01 PM

Well, look at him! All skinny with ratty hair and a tiny waist and a lame t-shirt...and Clark Kent's jaw. It's just a little incongruous.

Yes to Saul Williams as well.

Posted by: maise | Jul 19, 2006 1:34:16 PM

I like his little tiny bow of a mouth... plus, I know his teeth are in there, so it has that going for it. Also, even when he was a skinny little monkey, his still had a thick neck.

Posted by: Dierdre | Jul 19, 2006 1:55:08 PM

So, I'm listening to PHM right now, and what I find is that I pretty much love it whenever the beeping synth madness gives way to a big noisy guitar. Trent has a way with that shit.

Also, Trent really liked the echo effect back then.

And finally, I can't hear that line "Can this world really be as sad as it seems" without adding "fucking" to it. It's interesting how, in some way, these songs have lodged themselves in my memory more firmly in their live versions than as originally recorded...

...Still listening.

Posted by: Dierdre | Jul 19, 2006 2:18:58 PM

I'm on the PHM beat, not very far in yet, and I can't believe how much Exotic Birds I'm hearing in here.

Posted by: JR | Jul 19, 2006 2:37:56 PM

Also, though this record kicked my ass at the time, I've got to go along with Dierdre's line of thought and say that I prefer the live versions of many of these.

It feels like he's explored the feelings in these songs in more depth over the years, and that is reflected in their exponentially more fleshed out and intense live performances. Almost as if they are different songs. Which I'm guessing is what makes them still feel relevant for him to perform--that's how it comes across to this audience member, anyhow.

That said, this is a remarkable record to have been made by someone at the tender age of what, 23? 24?

Posted by: JR | Jul 19, 2006 2:43:11 PM

(and P.S. How much do you want to bet the black t-shirt next to him is Vrenna?)

Posted by: JR | Jul 19, 2006 2:44:32 PM

Re: PHM vs. live performances, I think it's worth pointing out that this is an album that is desperately crying out to be remastered. I can barely hear it.

Posted by: maise | Jul 19, 2006 2:50:29 PM

I agree Maise. There's something about most of the record that just feels THIN somehow. I think part of it is Trent's voice, which is higher, more nasal, and a bit whiny at times, and part of it is the production.

However, I just want to say that I will never stop raving about the unbelievable genius of "Something I Can Never Have", the NIN thesis statement, and I also really, really, really think "Sin" kicks ass.

Also, people give Trent hell about these lyrics, but I think there's something really remarkable about them -- there's a kind of unpolished, straightforward, candor to him on this record, and it's genuinely touching, especially, I think, when it's just totally melodramatic, and you know he means every word of it, with a really magnificently unguarded earnestness. It's funny to say that, but I almost find it most affecting at the moments where I'm also thinking "Jesus Christ, Trent! Get ahold of yourself!"

Posted by: Dierdre | Jul 19, 2006 3:09:45 PM

Well i think the thiness you describe is actually the intentional sound of the record.

don't forget the whole thing was recorded with an emax I sampler (not full CD-quality sampling, if techgeek memory serves) and a single minimoog... there isn't as much layering as on later NIN stuff... and as the overzealous use of reverb that D pointed out attests to, it was very much of that "thinned out" school of thought sonically.

truth be told, it's always seemed to be the super low-end and low-mids thick thing that took over all music, that NIN was definitely part of, was really a 90's movement, and the sound of PHM reveals it's late 80's "dance... uh... thing..." roots.

Posted by: Gabriel14 | Jul 19, 2006 4:48:31 PM

That said, it's still my favorite NIN record, and by chance I've been listening to it pretty nonstop this past week.

If only "Maybe Just Once" had made it.

Posted by: Gabriel14 | Jul 19, 2006 4:50:11 PM

I got to hear up to "Kinda I Want To" on my ride back home.

I'm glad we're doing this album because this is the one I tend to skip in favor of other albums in the NIN catalogue. Don't get me wrong...I love the songs (Both "Sin" and "Something I Can Never Have" made my personal Top 10), but the aforementioned thinness kind of drives me nuts, especially when there are other versions of some of these songs that do sound richer and more intense, as JR noted.

Although I technically haven't gotten there yet, I just have to give props to "The Only Time." Definitely one of my favorite NIN songs. It's sexy, funny (that "moral standing is lying down" always cracks me up)...the one song that's fairly free of angst.

And this line is reminiscent of "The Perfect Drug":

the sweat in your eyes/the blood in your veins/are listening to me.

"The Only Time" also reminds me of this one time this one sleazy, sleazy boy wanted to...never mind.

Posted by: maise | Jul 19, 2006 5:23:07 PM

I think Trents singing voice improved a lot with each halo. With Teeth really shows it the most.

Posted by: clara | Jul 19, 2006 8:28:59 PM

Man, "Ringfinger" is just so over the top.

Actually, with a few of the songs on PHM, you can hear the strange overpronunciation that you hear on "A-with-a Teeth-a." Although I'm not listening to it this very second, I think "Sanctified" and "That's What I Get" are examples of this.

Posted by: maise | Jul 19, 2006 8:33:14 PM

I am so taken lately with the way he pronounces his "r"s (don't know why I've never noticed it before); particularly at the end of words, so very evident on "Something I Can Never Have", and, to a lesser degree, on "Ringfinger".

It's a little Cindy-Brady-baby-talk-ish, but I like it. A lot.

Probably because he's so deliberate with the rest of his pronunciation, but yet these funny "r"s get through. And he's still doing it nearly 20 years later.

Posted by: JR | Jul 19, 2006 8:48:22 PM

i get the distinct feel of nostalgia every time i listen to this CD. Not much of any particular song (except for some reason i get vair angry with Head Like A Hole, though i assume thats slightly natural...) stirs the feelings themselves but the CD in general causes me to sit and think about just a very differnt time--- ya'll know what i mean??

Posted by: Tori | Jul 19, 2006 8:53:10 PM

I also love the nascent whispery, overly breathy singing voice on this record.

Boy, did he perfect that over time. Damn that voice.

I'm curious about everyone else's take on my next thought: the Pixies are frequently credited with having changed the face of alternative music on many levels, one of the most important their use of the loud/quiet dynamic. This was considered a big deal when they first came around in 86 or 87, and one of the most obvious bands influenced by this was Nirvana.

I keep thinking about how much of this same dynamic is present in most NIN songs. Of course, the Pixies weren't industrial, but the alternative music world was a lot smaller at that time...I've never read anywhere that TR was directly influenced by Black Francis's style, but it seems he had to have been, whether directly or indirectly--and with great success, I might add.


Posted by: JR | Jul 19, 2006 9:02:44 PM

Re: "Head Like a Hole":

This song holds up as a classic 17 years later. Who can't support seething contempt for injustice?

The only problem I have with this song is that, in my mind's eye, I keep seeing Dick Cheney's snarling face every time I hear it. It's like it was written just for him.

Posted by: maise | Jul 19, 2006 9:59:42 PM

JR, I'd love to discuss your Pixies theory further...unfortunately, and I'm embarrassed to admit it, I don't know enough about them to discuss their work with any competency. (A dead dog is not necessarily omniscient.) I will say that everything I've heard from the Pixies and Frank Black I have enjoyed.

Posted by: maise | Jul 19, 2006 10:02:09 PM

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