It’s that time of the month again – the eleventh day has arrived, and that means a new release from The Man of Eleven himself, Danny Elfman. Are you ready for one hell of a collaboration? Today’s offering is a blistering version of True, the stellar single from Elfman’s sprawling 18-track magnum opus Big Mess [ANTI- / Epitaph Records], with none other than Nine Inch Nails’ Trent Reznor.
“This is the first duet/collaboration I’ve ever done in my life, so to do it with Trent was a real surprise and a treat,” says Elfman. “He’s always been a big inspiration to me, not to mention he has one of my all-time favorite singing voices.”
Fusing the talents of Reznor and Elfman is a mind-blowing endeavour: the two bounce off each other in escalating agony throughout the track, melding Elfman’s more cinematic approach with the rawness of Reznor’s vocals. The result is a brilliant supernova, lurching forth with vicious industrial percussion, cinematic piano flares and walls of feedback. It pushes the boundaries of both artists, while acknowledging their own contributions to music for the last few decades. The two rockers-turned-Oscar winning composers pack immense power together with Just Like Me.
This is not the first NIN-related track from Elfman. An earlier release from the album, Happy, was flanked by drummer Josh Freese (Devo/Vandals/Nine Inch Nails).
Big Mess was birthed during Danny Elfman’s ongoing experimentation with orchestral strings and aggressive rock. Inspired by four years of creeping fascism and civil rot, the award-winning composer used his ample quarantine time to spontaneously dive into a deeply demonic, dystopian palette of distorted electric guitars, industrial synths, and orchestra.
The original version of “True”, released in April of this year, had a different video by multimedia artist Sarah Sitkin, which embodies the nightmarish vision of a man on the brink of oblivion, a parade of death masks, and glitchy flashback. In contrast to the explosions of fury in the other tracks of Big Mess, this one is more contemplative. True is a modern death aria, a lamentation, a surrender, directly facing down hopelessness and despair. Elfman’s vocals are gritty and growling; his raw, unfiltered delivery adds to the atmosphere of deep pathos
The terrifying video for the Reznor version, directed by Aron Johnson, with art direction by Berit Gwendolyn Gilma, hearkens back to classic NIN imagery in Mark Romanek’s Closer and earlier work like Head Like A Hole, using moulds of Elfman’s head in various torture scenarios, as if they’ve been recorded as a VHS snuff video. The effect is eerily reminiscent of the Chris Cunningham’s nightmarish video for Aphex Twin’s “Come To Daddy” as well as 2002’s The Ring.
Elfman released Big Mess in June, his first solo record in thirty-seven years.
Post-Punk.com editor-in-chief Alex Baker recently spoke with Elfman about his recent endeavours. You can read the interview here.
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