Remix albums are often a mixed bag, invariably remixes go one of three directions– total reinterpretations, too subtle to have any noticable difference, or dance/house/dub reconstructions. I find as a rule, I tend to prefer the former, but the material needs to have a depth of arrangement to support this, or it needs to be significantly engaging to allow a drastic change. Given that “The Downward Spiral” meets both these criteria, its little surprise that the remixes from it are quite strong– in fact, of all the Nine Inch Nails remix material, I’ve found consistently high quality only amongst “The Downward Spiral” material.
Before I go on, the biggest complaint about this one is that there are tracks on here not on the UK release of “Further Down the Spiral” and vice versa. Admittedly, it’d be tight to fit them all, but for completionists, you need the UK version for four further mixes.
The remixes on here are largely exercises in mood, many of the remixes take the original moods, usually anger, paranoia, depression, and add a heavy level of anticipation to it. Take “The Art of Self Destruction, Part One” (remixed by the live Nine Inch Nails band circa 1995) or the overlong “The Downward Spiral (the bottom)” (remixed by Coil and Danny Hyde)– both add a level of heightened anticipation to them that create a good pool of darkness from which the music can build. But even better than these moody pieces are the Aphex Twin construction “At the Heart of It All”, a stunning slice of orchestral ambient darkness constructed from samples from the album (don’t ask me how), the endlessly varied “Eraser” remixes from Coil/Danny Hyde, and the killer remix of “Piggy (nothing can stop me now)” by Rick Rubin, that takes the originals black mood and adds a level of aggression to it (with help of Dave Navarro’s guitar) that actually surpasses the original and was added to Reznor’s live set.
This is a great value as far as remix albums go, and well worth the investment for anyone who loved “The Downward Spiral”.