-Or The General Narrative Shifts in Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D -

“I hope they cannot see

The limitless potential

Living inside of me

To murder everything

I hope they cannot see

I am the Great Destroyer.”

- The Great Destroyer, Nine Inch Nails

“I hope they cannot see

Living inside of me

To murder everything

I hope they cannot see

I am the Great Destroyer.”

- The Great Destroyer (Modwheelmood Remix)

If there is one thing I could probably talk your ear off about at this point, its the narrative shifts between Year Zero and it’s companion album, Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D. Since I didn’t have room for this analysis in my Academic Webtext for Writing and Digital Media, I figured I would put some of my thoughts on the remix album’s narrative qualities here.

First off, if you start Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D like I did, and you look through the track listing, the first thing you will notice is that the songs are in a completely different order. Secondly, you’ll notice that The Good Soldier is missing and Hyperpower! has been renamed Guns By Computer.

Why is this important? Well, the construction of albums, especially those that set out to tell a story, is incredibly important to the narrative flow of the music. The tone of each perspective in Year Zero shapes the story, yes, but God Given might not have been half as powerful the first time around if it hadn’t followed up The Warning. Having the songs placed in a different order completely changes the feel of the story as we listen through it. The Great Destroyer feels more like a protest song. The Warning feels soul shattering and terrifying. But, more than that, we are presented an image in Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D of a future actively in chaos. The Beginning of The End doesn’t come until after the riot of My Violent Heart, and it only goes downhill from there.

In Year Zero, on the other hand, we have a sense that things are going poorly, and that The Warning is the tipping point into chaos.

The fact that The Good Soldier is absent from the remix album also speaks volumes to the narrative arc of Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D. Year Zero is an album chiefly made up on perspectives – as illustrated in the dual-perspective of The Warning – and leaving out the soldier’s perspective changes the focus of the story.

The Good Soldier presents listeners with a globalized view on war; a soldier fighting for his country, which fights for a cause they don’t believe in. Leaving that song out makes Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D a domestic album, chiefly, focusing on the chaos that America has fallen into, and silencing the voice of the soldier forced to war. I’m not sure if this was intentional or not, this silencing of a voice that is so often ignored (at least after they return from war), but it is a very powerful omission to make.

The story of Year Zero is a powerful one, and I like to think of Y34RZ3R0R3M1X3D as yet another perspective on the tipping point. Perhaps, to the content, Year Zero represents the reality – a build up to chaos – when, on the other hand, the reality is that the world is falling apart, and chaos is the norm.

It’s all up to interpretation.

Thoughts on Remixing

- Or In Which Emily Links You to Many Things -

I doubt I’ll ever pay someone to do a remix again, because there’s some amazing stuff just coming out of bedrooms.
- Trent Reznor

When I am displeased with how a genre is handling itself, I endeavor to write what I would like to see out of said genre. This, according to the video series Everything is a Remix, is remixing – the process of copying, transforming, and producing something new based on the work of others. In this instance, I am taking a genre, which has certain conventions and tropes associated with it, and reusing or transforming the tropes associated with that genre.

But what is the actual argument here? What is Kirby trying to say – because he certainly sounds negative. Well, that’s an issue of delivery, and we’ll return to that.

The point Kirby attempts to make over the course of four videos is that everything is the product of people accumulating ideas, playing around with them, and rereleasing those mashed-up and revamped ideas into the world as original products. This concept applies to music, movies, books, inventions, tv shows, and a myriad of other things that comprise our digital and physical culture. The problem is that American society has all but made remixing impossible by condemning copying.

Don’t get me wrong, simply reproducing someone else’s work without crediting the original creator is wrong (like, disgustingly wrong). However, as the remix videos point out, we learn by copying. Hell, that’s how genres become genres; someone writes a fringe story that doesn’t quite fit current conventions, someone else writes based on that fringe concept, and suddenly we have an All-Vampire young adult section at our local bookstores.

It is my belief that remixing – in it’s true, transformative role – fundamentally changes the concept behind the original work. It’s why the song The Warning by Nine Inch Nails sound completely different from The Warning [Stefan Goodchild Remix]. The remixed song conveys a different message; even though it contains the same lyrics, it tells a different story*. And if you change the story, you haven’t reproduced an exact copy. The story, for me (if you’ve been paying attention), is key to the ‘originality’ of something.

(As it happens, Nine Inch Nails runs an official remix site in which they release the tracks of all of their songs and encourage fans to remix to their hearts content. Trent Reznor has also released a nine-part album [four parts of which were free] to the world so that anyone could remix and change those tracks.)

I’m not going to get into an argument about copy right law here – though I want to, because copy right law is the most ridiculous thing – because Part 4 of Everything is a Remix makes the argument better than I can. What I will say is this – without remixes in music, we would have never had the ‘golden age’ of hip hop. We wouldn’t have an alternate interpretation of Year Zero (an album that went so far into storytelling, it created a universe). We wouldn’t have Star Wars or Star Trek or Stargate. Society would have missed out on countless books loosely based on life, on genre, on problems with fantasy.

Let the world remix, because we’re missing out on that kind of originality.