The World of Trent Reznor
by Stephanie Benson | September 3, 2013
Trent Reznor has been banging out sounds for over 25 years now, masterfully turning machinist industrial noise into widely successful pop music that oozes with down-and-dirty sadomasochistic pleasures of the sexual, political, religious and self-loathing persuasion. It's a formula he has continued to tweak and perfect since Nine Inch Nails' 1989 debut, Pretty Hate Machine, a collection whose influences ranged from the industrial tinkering of bands like Skinny Puppy to the post-punk paranoia of Joy Division to even the pop appeal of Prince. Into the '90s, Reznor ruled the alternative airways with 1994's landmark The Downward Spiral and later his double-disc tour de force, The Fragile. In between, he produced albums for Marilyn Manson and soundtracks for both Oliver Stone (Natural Born Killers) and David Lynch (Lost Highway).
He has continued his reign into the 21st century, turning his insular angst slightly more outward with 2005's With Teeth and the dystopian concept album Year Zero. His film work expanded as well, with a Grammy Award for the score to David Fincher's The Social Network and an Oscar for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. He has also collaborated with hip-hop eccentrics like Saul Williams and El-P, and most recently with his wife, Mariqueen Maandig, and fellow producer Atticus Ross (who helped him with those Fincher film scores) for the dark ambient group How to Destroy Angels. Just six months after that band's debut album dropped, Reznor is back with Hesitation Marks, a deeply textured mix of minimalist beats and throbbing synths, and arguably Nine Inch Nails' finest work since the '90s.
The appended playlist gathers some of Reznor's best tracks and collaborations from the last two and a half decades. Prepare to be haunted.