Review Summary: The good news: it's five different remix versions of the Perfect Drug. The bad news: it's five different remix versions of the Perfect Drug.
The dreaded remix album. Quite possibly one of the most dangerous moves a music artist can make, second perhaps only to releasing a "live" album (yikes). More often than not, the tragic result is a half way decent song recycled into some sort of mutant likeness to its original form. The impression I get is that there seems to be some sort of unofficial, unspoken taboo now against taking a good song and attempting to alter it, or even a bad song and further maiming it (See: Linkin Park
). Even more unfathomable, given the negative criticism most of these records get, is the number of them at which Trent Reznor seems capable of creating... consistently.
As if this was sensible in the least degree, he not only has limited himself to remixing previous records, but also single songs. Say... from movie soundtracks (the particular one in question being one that he contributed to considerably, no less). Even if you cast aside the fact that he released five different versions of the same song, things are further complicated upon the realization that four of them are not actually creations of Reznor, but instead left in the hands of other artists. This is not a very sound combination of factors at all. This is the recipe for the Perfect Drug remixes.
! Lest one be so hasty to judge it is only right and fair that a good listen or two is not out of line before confirming ones assumptions. So, I go out, I buy the EP, put it into my stereo and, a good listen or two later, find that I'm not so displeased. Oddly enough, it's quite the opposite, with one glaring exception... but let us begin from the top.
Meat Beat Manifesto Mix
First and foremost: there is a sound that is Nine Inch Nails. Those who have heard it know it immediately. Those who have not will have trouble recognizing it. That being said, with all the twists and turns that push this mix into what seems like something you could dance to, the essence of The Perfect Drug
remains, thankfully. This track is not particularly horrid, and is in fact a very good means by which to incorporate the concept of the record... without necessarily overwhelming the listener. It is an admittedly fun track that should get your head nodding, if it doesn't force you to get up and dance.
Chances are, you're catching yourself still dancing as the ambiance is abruptly shifted into a much more low-key vibe. If you're around others, you're probably wondering if any of them noticed. Don't worry, the groove is coming back soon. That's just it though, a subtle exchange of overlaid drum beats for textured sonic walls that echo throughout this track is enough to manipulate the whole thing, and in a good way. This track is much more similar to what you may expect from Reznor himself in that the interest is challenged to keep up with ever changing rhythms, defined keyboard dubs, and an overall very enjoyable track.
Nine Inch Nails Mix
The name alone leaves one to imagine that this will be the
track, the reason to purchase this at all, and it does not disappoint. Reznor's vocals pierce silence and are slowed to a crawl, accelerating forward very subtly as he chants "You are the Perfect Drug
". As he becomes quicker, louder, and clearer single components begin to build one overtop another. Initial single crushing blows from the bass drum synth amount to a hectic cascade of crunch and crashes comparable to that in the original version. Single line melodies expand and encompass all as heavily distorted bass lines solidify the songs foundation. Nearly four minutes of constant structuring collapses as the song explodes to the sound of pounding guitars entering and forcing the ears to abide. A successful remix indeed.
Spacetime Continuum Mix
Much like the name implies, this remix is spacey, yes, but not to the point of misdirection. A relaxed keyboard groove eases this track along, almost as though to give the listener a break after the Nine Inch Nails mix. Sound samples that could easily be in any sci-fi movie are abundant, but never to an extent by which they are distracting.
The Orb Mix
Now. The final track is brought in by the manipulated vocals of Reznor which, right away, will convince anyone that they are being sung by a group of evil clowns in your worst of nightmares. As though this is not reason enough to immediately stop the recording, the entire song rides (or strolls, really) on a 1-and-2 rhythm that seems more like a romp through a deranged children’s album gone wrong. If one manages to bear the entirety of the song, most noticeably is lack of any material that could in any way
allow the listener to relate it to the original, save perhaps the ending melody that is tossed in around the three-minute mark. This track is a prime example as to why remixing songs is a very dangerous act and, more often than not, why I will turn it off once this version begins.
For what it is, this record is mostly enjoyable, if you are willing to take into consideration that what it is
not is a Trent Reznor exclusive. The downside to this is that many Nine Inch Nails fans will find themselves very displeased for that very reason. As a remix album, it succeeds in isolating itself entirely from its original counterpart, but in doing so loses something that made The Perfect Drug something explicitly Nine Inch Nails to begin with.
Really though. What did you expect?
The Perfect Drug (Nine Inch Nails Mix)