About a month ago I shared some awesome news about the return of a rare, nearly forgotten collaboration between two giants from the golden era of industrial music: the EP Recoiled, featuring tracks from the classic Nine Inch Nails albums Broken and The Downward Spiral, retooled with ominous intent by occult-themed experimental music pioneers Coil. Recoiled was finally picked up for official release via UK label Cold Spring, who released it to hungry fans this week.
Described as “a rambunctious alchemy of magical Coil sensibilities and hi-tech (circa '90s) home mixing techniques,” the remix sessions that would eventually spawn Recoiled first reached fans' ears as a bundle of four tracks, offered via NIN fan forums as the download-only EP Uncoiled. They involved raw tracks from the original Spiral and Broken mixes recorded by NIN's Trent Reznor, who delivered them on DAT tape to Coil's Peter “Sleazy” Christopherson (also of UK industrial pioneers Throbbing Gristle) and Danny Hyde. The pair then conjured up their own mixes before reteaming with Reznor for final creative input. Though less closely involved, Coil co-founder Jhonn Balance (who, along with partner Christopherson, is sadly no longer with us) made some memorable contributions to the sessions as well.
The results of these sessions reflect the chilling, abstract and occult-based musical sensibilities that led Clive Barker to approach Coil in 1986 about composing the original Hellraiser soundtrack – demos of which Barker later rejected... for being too unsettling. That last sentence should tell you all you need to know about the ultra-dark terrain this project explores (unless you also want to consider Christopherson's previous collaboration with Reznor, the controversial found-footage promo for Broken, made to resemble a serial killer's home movies). The new mastering process was overseen (along with Gregg Janman) by another industrial icon (and FEARNET fave), Martin Bowes of Attrition, at his own Cage Studios.
"Closer," unquestionably the most popular track from The Downward Spiral, is thoroughly transformed via the “Unrecalled” remix; it's not the one from David Fincher's SE7EN, as I'd mistakenly thought (that's the more widely available "Precursor" version, also remixed by Coil), and it's slightly less urgent, but no less chilling:
The sole track from Broken appearing here is “Gave Up,” via the “Open My Eyes” remix; where the EP's original was a direct sonic rage-attack, this version is an abstract kaleidoscope of fragmented screams beneath thudding, crushed beats, with the song's gritty main guitar riff swirling around the mix like shark-infested waters. Spiral cuts include the eerie “Gilded Sickness” mix of that album's title track, which discards the original's climactic rhythms in favor of a light and loose tonal beat layered with Reznor's time-stretched vocals. We also get two interpretations of “Eraser”: the terrifying “Reduction” version, which sounds like a whirlwind of tormented souls, and the amazing “Baby Alarm Remix,” in which the original song's pile-driver rhythms are further distorted by Jhonn Balance's cavernous, coarse and hyper-metallic sound design into a hellish landscape.
It's pretty much a given that Recoiled belongs in any serious NIN and/or Coil fan's collection, and while I wouldn't go as far as to kick my download of Uncoiled to the curb just yet, the excellent mastering on this release marks it as the superior version of the two, and an excellent time capsule for the wildly experimental days of early '90s industrial music. Recoiled is available now from Cold Spring Records in CD digipak and vinyl versions, or as a digital download, so check it out... and don't forget our review of Nine Inch Nails' return album Hesitation Marks, which also made FEARNET's Top 13 Albums of 2013 list.