Not The Actual Events
Experimental and explosive, Nine Inch Nails capture the sound of eight albums in five short songs
8th January 2017
"Hey wait! I thought you said you'd have another blog out by new ye-"
New year, same old Dec. I will attempt to get the Delicious and Excellent Concept awards out by the end of January, but I make no promises.
Anyway, this blog is the one that I erroneously claimed I would have done prior to the turn of the year, and it's a doozy. Or, at least, the subject matter is. Unlike dear old me, Trent Reznor is a man of his word when it comes to vaguely worded promises, and when he said there would be new NIN in 2016 he meant it - even if it did only arrive in the last 2 weeks.
Not The Actual Events is a short, angry EP which differs significantly from the later submissions by Reznor, but instead heralds back to the so-called "golden era" of classic NIN where vocals take a back foot to weird noises and static. However, it still manages to take influence from the more electro-sounding efforts of late, and to be honest you could probably say that in 20 minutes you can hear pieces of all of their previous albums.
The album starts off on a heavy note with Branches/Bones, a short but brutal song, and the one in which Trent's voice is most prevelant, akin to the songs that exist on Year Zero or With Teeth – from here on out it's pushed behind the other layers and becomes close to spoken word rather than singing.
Dear World is the closest you'll get to Hesitation Marks or The Slip and it's very different to the other songs on the EP, but still excellent. Then you have She's Gone Away which could come straight off The Downward Spiral with its heavy use of static, haunting background noise and misery-laden lyrics.
The standout track is The Idea of You. It's sensational. It starts out with a very heavy sounding guitar riff, but then – despite the riff not actually changing – it becomes a fairly slow, chilled out song, simply by overlaying a piano note every few seconds. It's a sensational mixture of incredibly simple sounds and sums up exactly why Reznor is such a masterful musician. Then, you reach the explosive chorus, which is one of the heaviest sections of music that NIN has ever produced. This is where the influence from The Fragile comes in.
Burning Bright (Fields on Fire) is what I imagine a song from Ghosts I-IV would sound like if it were given vocals – in fact it makes me yearn for a Ghosts V-VIII because that album is one of the best writing inspirations I've ever had.
So yes, in five quick songs Reznor and new official band member Atticus Ross have managed to cover around 80% of their sound. However, it still manages to tell its own story. I need to give it a few more listens – perhaps with the mysterious "physical component" in tow – to discover exactly what that truly is. Ideally, this will pave way for an LP with a similar sound. Even the name implies that the actual events are to come.