Friday, March 25, 2016

Favorite Albums Friday #2: Where Darkness Doubles, Where Light Pours In

Favorite Albums Friday is a series of mini-essays weekly or bi-weekly that explores classic albums that made an impact on the world of popular music whether are albums famous to the public or albums that the world needs to hear.

For anyone who is devoted to a band or an artist, studio albums, compilations, or live albums is something they must have but for the hardcore fans. Official recordings are simply not enough as it shows that there is more to be heard as they often come in the form of the bootleg. From jam bands like the Grateful Dead and Phish to rock acts like Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan, the bootleg offers something a whole lot more for the hardcore fans. Whether it’s a concert they attended or rare recordings not heard from in an official capacity. In the case of an outfit like Nine Inch Nails, they don’t fall into any of those categories as their bootleg releases often tend showcase songs that aren’t just their hits but also fan favorites. Still, there is that devoted fan base that has followed the outfit for many years as several bootlegs have been collected and created for many years that only fans would know. Among them is a 2006 bootleg that originated from a series of radio sessions during the band’s summer tour of the U.S. with the legendary Goth band in Bauhaus who had reunited for this joint-tour with NIN.

While it is known by many fans that Bauhaus was a key influence to NIN while the band’s vocalist in Peter Murphy would tour with NIN back in 1990 just one year after the release of their debut album Pretty Hate Machine while Murphy was promoting his third studio album Deep that would feature one of the definitive songs of alternative rock in Cuts You Up. The tour was just a reunion of sorts between Murphy and NIN at a time when Bauhaus was thinking of more than just reforming as they would eventually make one more album in 2008’s Go Away White before disbanding again for good. NIN and Bauhaus would be joined by two different opening acts for the separate legs of their tour in the post-punk band TV on the Radio and the electro-punk artist Peaches. It was during this tour that NIN mastermind Trent Reznor and Murphy decided to do something that was to be a break from the monotony of touring. In these four different radio sessions would be the basis for one of NIN’s most cherished bootlegs that is widely known as Where Darkness Doubles, Where Light Pours In or sometimes known as The 2006 Trent Reznor/Peter Murphy Radio Sessions.

The 2006 tour was a high watermark for NIN as a year earlier, they had released With Teeth which was the band’s first album in six years as it would spawn three #1 modern rock hits in the songs The Hand That Feeds, Only, and Every Day is Exactly the Same. For Trent Reznor, it was a victorious moment as the years since the release of 1999’s The Fragile had been difficult due to that album’s disappointing commercial reaction as well as feeling abandoned by Interscope. All of which would lead to a relapse and a near-death experience in the summer of 2000 in London as the next several years saw not just a failed project in Tapeworm (which never got off the ground) as well as a bitter split with longtime manager John Malm Jr. which would also see the end of their vanity label Nothing Records. For those that had seen the band return in 2005 didn’t just see Reznor trying to readjust himself to a new musical climate but would eventually see the man be rejuvenated which is probably one of the reasons why he decided to collaborate with Peter Murphy for the series of radio sessions during their summer tour.

The first of these sessions were held backstage at the Lakewood Amphitheatre in Atlanta, Georgia on June 7, 2006 (a show that I was fortunate to attend and remains the best concert I ever went to as it was my first NIN show) for a radio session for the now-defunct modern rock radio station 99X. The performance features only Reznor and Murphy as the former sings and plays keyboards with the latter doing a lot of the vocals as the two would do reinterpretation of the NIN song Head Like a Hole into a slowed-down, electronic setting with Murphy doing much of the vocals and Reznor singing the vocals. In a full-on electronic take on Bauhaus’ Sanity Assassin that has Reznor and Murphy trade vocals with the former providing some drum-machine beats and this drone-based synthesizer. The last song of the session is a version of NIN’s Hurt that is given a simple presentation with Reznor playing piano and Murphy singing the song. Though Murphy doesn’t really do anything new vocally that Reznor as well as others like David Bowie and Johnny Cash has done to the song but does make it his own.

The second session was held in Washington, D.C. at the Nissan Pavilion on June 13, 2006 where it would be held to a small audience during a sound check where Reznor and Murphy decided to have the sessions for DC 101 with one of the opening acts on the tour in TV on the Radio. TV on the Radio were just about to release their breakthrough release in Return to Cookie Mountain during the tour as opening for NIN and Bauhaus was kind of the break they needed as their performance for this session also helped gain attention for them. By performing their song Dreams with Reznor and Murphy, the song is given some more power live with driving guitars of David Sitek and Kyp Malone as the latter sings the song with vocalist Tunde Adebimpe. Murphy joins them on the vocals while adding his own flair to the song. Reznor would later join in as it one of the best performances of the sessions.

The song, along with the two other tracks performed at the session, were filmed by NIN’s visual art director Rob Sheridan for its website as he would also film the band doing a cover of Pere Ubu’s Final Solution that Murphy covered in 1986 from his solo debut release Should the World Fail to Fall Apart as it is this menacing cover where Reznor, Murphy, and Adebimpe trade vocals for the song. A take on Bauhaus’ most famous song in Bela Lugosi’s Dead as TV on the Radio bring a very faithful take to the song with a few bits that is their own as Reznor, Adebimpe, and Murphy do a lot with the song.

For the third session set in Boston for a trio of simulcast radio broadcasts for WBCN, WFNX, and WAAF on June 23, 2006 backstage at the Tweeter Center (now Xfinity Center). Reznor and Murphy are joined by two NIN associates in Atticus Ross who provided drum-machines and keyboards for the performance and then-NIN guitarist/bassist Jeordie White who is known famously as Twiggy Ramirez from Marilyn Manson’s live band. Playing to an intimate audience with Reznor on bass/keyboards for the performance, the performance largely features a mix of material including a slowed-down version of the NIN song Reptile that is later mashed-up with a song by the band Love & Rockets (which was formed by the remaining members of Bauhaus) in Haunted When the Minutes Drag that maintains that slow, down-tempo form. Two covers would appear for this session in the form of Iggy Pop’s Nightclubbing that is quite faithful to the song with Murphy singing with some industrial-like beats to the song.

The other cover that is performed is from an electronic act called the Normal called Warm Leatherette which was made famous by Grace Jones. The performance itself is quite intense with Reznor and Ross providing these warbling electronics to the track with White’s noisy guitar textures to Murphy’s vocals. Yet, the highlight of the session is Murphy’s A Strange Kind of Love which Reznor states in the session that this was a song too good to pass up and he was right. It’s a simple acoustic ballad sung by Murphy with White on acoustic guitar as it showcases that even a simple ballad can just liven up a session without all of the bells and whistles.

The fourth and final session of series were recorded on July 1, 2006 in Chicago for Q101 radio at the First Midwest Bank Amphitheatre during sound check. This session would feature Murphy singing with NIN as a whole where they would nothing but covers of songs by Joy Division. The first of which in Dead Souls was a song NIN did back in 1994 for the film soundtrack to The Crow where they slowed the tempo down a bit as the rhythm section of White on bass and drummer Josh Freese add to that tone with Aaron North’s wailing guitars and a soft yet eerie keyboard from Alessandro Cortini. Murphy would sing the song while Reznor resigned himself to playing guitar in the song. Twenty Four Hours would have a sense of bite to the song though much of the arrangements of the song remains intact to its original with a more driving sound in its guitars and drums with Murphy providing some chilling vocals as he really makes the song his own.

The next two covers would be just as faithful such as the blistering take on the song Warsaw as NIN goes full-on heavy and fast for the song as it plays true to its sound with Murphy singing very fast and to the fuckin’ point. The last song in the session is probably one of the best covers of any band as the NIN/Peter Murphy version of Atmosphere is just something music fans need to hear. It is really faithful yet NIN provide something a little different in terms of Freese’s drum fills and the fact that the song is turned into a duet of sorts between Murphy and Reznor.

A planned fifth session which was to include Reznor singing along with Bauhaus didn’t come into fruition as it was speculated that growing tension within the band was the reason. The bootleg would instead feature two tracks from another NIN bootleg from a radio session in Chicago back in April 27, 2000 during the Fragility tour to promote The Fragile that is known as The CRC Sessions. The two tracks that appear for this bootleg include one of two takes of Hurt and The Day the World Went Away all performed in a semi-acoustic presentation that would later become the inspiration for the band’s 2002 Internet-only EP Still. Though their placement in the bootleg seems odd, it does help maintain that sense of flow and tone with the rest of the album.

Where Darkness Doubles, Where Light Pours In might not be in the same level as legendary bootlegs such as Bob Dylan and the Band’s The Great White North or anything that the Grateful Dead ever did live. For fans of Nine Inch Nails, the bootleg is definitely something that they cherish as it adds so much to not just the live experience. It also showcases that Trent Reznor is willing to do things differently and work with someone as legendary as Peter Murphy to shake things up and break away from the monotony of touring. While there’s other bootlegs of NIN that ranks very high depending on taste or a fondness for a certain period of the band. Where Darkness Doubles, Where Light Pours In is a bootleg that belongs with those NIN bootlegs where it also offers something much more towards its fans from the casual to the die-hard, hardcore fans.

© thevoid99 2016

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