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Paul M. Guyet
- Published on Amazon.com
Format: Audio CD
The intention of And Then There’s Nothing was to make a Further Down The Spiral to Call The Time Eternity's The Downward Spiral.
And, if that sentence made no sense to you, then you probably shouldn't bother reading this.
In my mind, remixes fall into four categories: those that work, those that don't, those that are the aural equivalent of a wet diaper and those that redefine, augment or improve upon the original, those that bring a new perspective to it and explore aspects perhaps either hidden or merely implied.
That stated, I've focused on those last two categories of remixes on the deluxe edition.
THOSE THAT WORK
I'm going to do my best to not focus on Jessicka's awful, tough-girl whisper-talking vocals on the five versions of "Nothing At All" contained within, but rather the sonic beds that support these awful, tough-girl whisper-talking vocals.
I'm not going to try, but I'll promise to try.
First up, the Gary Numan remix which, aside from those vocals I might or might not have mentioned, could have been a demo from Splinter (not quite an album track as it's lacking something, maybe some stronger guitar). The chorus has the same liquid metal synths as used on "Here In The Black" and it sounds excellent, further establishing the FDTS feel.
The next attempt to make these vocals just a little better has been tasked to Front Line Assembly and holy fork do they do a great job. I love the edge on this mix; it's brutal, mechanical, and the softness of Addams voice thrown into this sonic morcellator is something unique, an excellent electro industrial composition.
The fourth and almost final remix of "Nothing At All" comes courtesy of Erie Loch of Exageist, LUXT and Blownload. This is the "Exageist Mix". People unfamiliar with Exageist might think this sounds a bit like Skrillex, but darker in some places and lighter in others. They wouldn't be wrong. As much as the Gary Numan remix of NAA sounds like something from his new album, this sounds like something from Semi Auto Erotic (Exageist's debut album). If you like dark, dubstep electronics, then this might be you favorite version of "Nothing At All".
The Dave "Rave" Ogilvie* and Colin Janz "Grounded" mix has a fresh, futuristic, Asian lounge feel to it, a pretty drastic departure from the dark, throbby original. While it doesn't really fit with the overall theme of the album, it's a solid mix, very light.
KMFDM's "Areas Of The Brain" has more darkness than the original; the inmates loose and destroying the blinding white, antiseptic asylum of the album version. This remix is all broken metal jags and old blood covered bonesaws. Almost more Fixed than Further Down The Spiral.
Improving on the simple, clean effectiveness of "Wasted Time" is something I would think rather difficult. Did Rob King and Adrian Terrazas-Gonzalez succeed? For the first half, I would have said no (the whispers of "wasted" and "time" were not impressing anyone), but then, about halfway through, when the sweaty saxophone bursts through the wall like the freaking Kool Aid man and starts making panties drop...what was I saying?
The second half is pretty cool, the first half not so much.
Whatever the case, it certainly stands out.
The final track on the standard album is the Aaron Zilch mix of "Fine". The first half is dark, steady, and contemplative, getting a bit more bassy around the middle before building amidst a flurry of bright, glimmering synths before finishing with some ragged drums and finally, winding down and disappearing. On its own, not a great ending to this great remix album, but, when you add on the super moody and stripped down Rojer Faust mix from the deluxe edition (which I would put in the fourth category), you get a nice eight plus minutes of development and exploration. Personally, I would have substituted this for the Zilch version.
The start of Joe Haze's "Grounded" mix could easily be compared to the beginning of "Closer To God", but it soon diverges, becoming more melodic and soft (if remaining a bit creepy). I actually enjoy the vocal treatment on this one, the repurposing and switching of the meter. Two tracks into the bonus material and I would rather have had these on the remix album proper. This continues the theme of Further Down The Spiral very nicely. This isn't quite up there with the "Hoarding Granules" mix he did with Beavan, but you can clearly see what he contributed.
THOSE THAT DON’T WORK
The final "Grounded" mix (3KStatic) is the longest on the album, clocking in at over seven minutes. I can't think of many remixes over seven minutes that I enjoy as the remixer usually uses their time to show just how great they think one very tiny and specific part of a song is for an inordinate and unnecessary amount of time, wandering into the land of self-indulgence.
I'll be honest though, even if this were only four minutes, I still wouldn't like it. kaRIN singing "ahhhh-ahhhh-AHHHHH-haaaah" isn't the most interesting part of this song.
The final "Nothing At All" mix is a straight up thump-ah-thump-ah club remix and I am eternally grateful that it wasn't put on the disc. It's just absolute garbage for folks like me who don't do clubs or club drugs. There are some cool textures in the quieter moments but less diarrhea is still diarrhea.
The Army of the Universe mix of "Ponygrinder" focuses on the only problem with the original version (the obnoxious phone operator samples), and finds a way to make it even more obnoxious, specifically by spending the majority of this track just hitting the sample button like a retarded kid with a Casio so you get solid blocks of "go back a step, go back, go back, go back, go, go, go, go...”
Then flush again.
THE REASON THERE ARE REMIXES
"Pig-Grinder" is what happened when Raymond Watts of <PIG> kidnapped "Ponygrinder" and held it captive in his nightmarish, S&M musical basement for eight months. It's an amazing reinterpretation of the original and sets the tone perfectly for the album.
Ah, Rasputina, never have trouble picking you out...
Say what you will about the temperament of Melora, but the stuff she does is always fascinating. This is a remix like Benelli's version of "The Frail" from Things Falling Apart is a remix, that is to say, a top-to-bottom recreation of the original. If you need specifics, picture "A Bit Longer That Usual" covered by cello-and-tambourine wielding medieval minstrels. Boom. I recommend listening to this and then the original; it's fun.
The Sean Beavan and Joe Haze mix of "Hoarding Granules" starts like someone turned off the lights and pumped fog into the original, but then, once the lights are switched back on, the listener looks around and sees a straight up industrial slaughterhouse. One of the more hardcore industrial remixes on the album, this feels like something from some non-existent album combining the harsh rigid drum proggramming and screeching guitars of Broken and the dark textures of The Downward Spiral.a track from the Broken session.**
Along with the nineteen remixes on the deluxe version of And Then There's Nothing, there are two brand new tracks as well; "All In" and "Limerence". The first starts off sounding like the drums from "Nothing At All" chopped and twisted, and then evolves into something that might be at home on a John Carpenter film score, and the second, which has the feel of someone dreaming of icy pools while listening to "At The Heart Of It All" (until the man howling and woman whispering "ecstasy" come in).
While the former sounds like a leftover from CTTE, "Limerence" has a distinct 2 a.m. wakeup call feel to it. It would have been interesting if CTTE had featured more tracks like this.
In the end, despite the handful of tracks that didn't work (for me), the majority of this album achieves exactly what it set out to do: to dig deeper into Call The Time Eternity, to explore and exploit its nuance and to light up its dark corners as well as find the dirt buried underneath it.
Honestly, I'm just happy to have fourteen new tweaker remixes. That Linoleum EP really gets old after a decade plus of listening to it.
* Long time mixer and engineer for Nine Inch Nails
** Which makes sense as Beavan worked on Broken, Fixed and The Downward Spiral