In 1994, Trent Reznor found himself in the unlikely position of musical messiah to those who felt lost after Kurt Cobain’s suicide. The Downward Spiral‘s success turned Nine Inch Nails and Trent Reznor himself into unexpected media favorites and gave rise to a new breed of jealous imitators. After months of touring, Nine Inch Nails faded into the background for the next few years, although Reznor continued to make his presence known through his skills as a producer and helped to launch the career of the always entertaining Marilyn Manson. Still, many were beginning to doubt if Nine Inch Nails would ever record another album.
Finally, in late 1999, the complicated The Fragile was released, and while it found a receptive audience, it didn’t save music from the evil of the likes of Limp Bizkit. In a show of solidarity, Spin magazine named it album of the year for 1999, but for the most part, The Fragile was quickly forgotten.
Released with little fanfare, Things Falling Apart features remixes, reconstructions, and manipulations of several of tracks from The Fragile, along with a menacing cover of Gary Numan’s “Metal”. More a reinterpretation than a companion piece, Things Falling Apart builds on the same thematic elements present in The Fragile without having to be dependent upon it. A mostly disjointed collection, Things Falling Apart is at once inaccessible and intriguing, and purposely unsatisfying. With a title like Things Falling Apart, how could you expect any less?
Some people are undoubtedly going to wonder what the point of this is, other than some sort of attempt to profit from fans who will buy anything with the Nine Inch Nails name on it. While The Fragile, at its core, was music for the masses, Things Falling Apart is obviously not intended to be. It reveals the other side of Trent Reznor, one of the few remaining musicians who obviously cares about what he is producing. Whether it is for his own benefit or the benefit of the music-listening public, it’s hard to believe that everyone doesn’t care about what this man, and Nine Inch Nails, is doing.