‘fear, anger and paranoia’

In 1995 Trent Reznor’s Nine Inch Nails won a Grammy award for their live performance of the song ‘Happiness in Slavery’ as captured on Woodstock ’94. The category was ‘Best Metal Performance’. I’m not sure anyone watching the recording – with its military assault on the senses and body-surfing audience – would have seen a possible David Sylvian collaboration on the horizon for one of the musicians.. ..but that was how things panned out. Chris Vrenna had been a performing member of NIN since 1989, contributing powerful drums to their hard-edged live industrial rock sound.

Before any Sylvian connection was made, there was the small matter of double-billing with David Bowie on the US leg of his tour to promote 1. Outside which took place in the autumn of 1995. Nine Inch Nails opened the concerts before Bowie and band joined them on stage for a ‘bridge’ set leading into their own, including songs such as Bowie’s ‘Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)’ and ‘Hallo Spaceboy’ and NIN’s ‘Reptile’ and ‘Hurt’. Bowie gifted Chris Vrenna a head-and-shoulders portrait he had painted of the drummer when the short tour came to an end. At around the same time Reznor and Vrenna combined to produce an alternate mix of Bowie’s ‘The Heart’s Filthy Lesson’ which appeared on the cd single release. Continue reading “Linoleum”

How Safe is Deep?

‘Stealthily as perfume..’

Like many fans of Japan, my first exposure to the work of Russell Mills was the cover of their post-split compilation on Virgin Records, Exorcising Ghosts, released late in 1984 after Sylvian’s solo debut Brilliant Trees had hit the record stores. In those pre-CD, pre-download days the artwork was such an integral part of the experience of a new release. A glorious gatefold with carefully crafted typography and art by Mills. I loved how tactile the image seemed, even when reproduced in the gloss of an album sleeve.. expressive, suggestive of something natural and elemental. Continue reading “How Safe is Deep?”