Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross are offically the duo that makes up the current Nine Inch Nails line up of this specific era. Atticus expands his role into songwriting with Trent after having produced all the groups albums for the last decade or so. Bad Witch is the third and final in this series of mini albums following Not The Actual Events and Add Violence which the pair have written together. The three records make up a larger experience which I am yet to enjoy in one session as a whole musical piece.
In my mind this thirty minute ride splits itself into three phases with the first two songs focusing on the lyrical content. Shapely words fit to mold your feelings can be interpreted in many ways but give the focus on the now and the mutation of change, one line in particular "celebration of ignorance" strikes me as being aimed towards the social-political climate we currently endure. Its fuzzy, hard and grizzly guitars channel the aggression into singular moments as its tightly tuned drums propel us through the aesthetic landscape of Industrial noises and layered synths that forge a disenfranchised mood.
Its next songs include the saxophone which adds a distinct voice to two songs that unpack themselves with groaning landscapes, heaving, expanding and contracting as the musics various layers of sound slowly evolve through their duration. The first track has a beautiful break in the middle for layers of sax to work mysterious magic before the track winds down gracefully. God Break Down The Door seems to mirror this approach with the sax taking a backseat. The inclusion of Trent's voice and the lively drum and bass percussive loop greatly ups the energy it exudes.
Moving into the third phase we have our ambience tracks, the first a soundscape piece of paranoia and phobia driven by a brooding baseline that drags us forward as alien, dark and dystopian noises build up a closing sense of dread that culminates to a hellish moment in the middle, letting the music repeat itself over. The following Over And Out is my favorite song from the record. It lays down a foundational drum groove and woven synth sounds for a big grooving baseline to patrol. Ready for extensive repetition, these quirky, off key, ambiguous piano notes float around the music, mixed into their own carving of audio space. The song sets itself up for length but wisely Trent brings in his voice to drive home a narrative that time is running out and the instruments are pulled through the volume sliders before descending into a drone of airy reverberation to let the music calmly fade out.
Its hard to say exactly what I feel about this record. Much of Nine Inch Nails music from this era demands much of your time to unpack the depth these songs possess. With each listen more is uncovered but it is only inches to the mile, excuse the pun. After quite a few listens the music still feels like it has a lot to offer however It does not wedge itself in the mind. I will listen to all three together at some point and then happily move forward with this band who I appreciate greatly but never quite get sucked all the way in.
Favorite Tracks: Play The Goddamned Part, Over And Out