Tuesday, May 03, 2005

CD Review: With Teeth

I've always thought the best way to listen to a Nine Inch Nails album is with headphones. This is because Trent Reznor uses a stereo sound field better than anyone. With that in mind, it's no surprise that his latest album, With Teeth, is an aural masterpiece in 5.1 DVD-Audio.

Probably more than any other rock musician of our day, Reznor truly understands that music is best when it's not just played at you, but completely envelops you. They figured that out with movies about 15 years ago, and hopefully others will follow Trent's example and bring that quality to producing albums as well. This isn't just a case of the music being piped to all the speakers that are surrounding you, its completely obvious that careful though was put toward which sound comes from which speaker. There will be a pounding Dave Grohl drum line coming from the front speaker and Reznor will be singing in a small voice from the right rear speaker. There will be a guitar riff surrounding you from the four quadraphonic speakers and a single piano playing in the center channel. It is an amazing experience. Two instances really stood out to me. In "You Know What You Are?" at one point Trent's voice begins to flicker in and out. As it does this, it bounces randomly from speaker to speaker, really heightening the schizophrenic feel of the song. And in "Every Day is Exactly the Same" the song starts with a very beautiful piano piece playing in the front channels. Then a discordant static starts growing in the surround speakers, then expands to overwhelm the piano. It's an awesome effect.

As to the album itself, I think it's really good. Of course, it'll take me a while to fully digest it, but I like it quite a bit. "Every Day is Exactly the Same", "Only", and "Getting Smaller" are real standouts to me. My only real criticism is that it sounds a little bit too much like The Fragile. This isn't an inherently bad thing, The Fragile was amazing, it's just that there has always seemed to be significant growth and change between albums. If I ever hear a B-Side or unreleased track by NIN that I hadn't heard before, I can still usually tell which album era it was from. But With Teeth sounds like it could be a third disc to The Fragile set. So like I said, it's good, just not as groundbreaking as I had hoped.

1 Comments:

Anonymous Missy said...

Yay for Wiley's spot on the web!

5/08/2005 10:41:00 PM  

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