Nine Inch Nails: Five Dream Trent Reznor Collaborations

Since 1988, Trent Reznor has produced a bludgeoning body of work under the Nine Inch Nails flag, rife with imaginative sonic concepts, sullen lyrical content, and stark aesthetics that are uniquely his own.

An artist in the truest sense of the word, perhaps Reznor's greatest accomplishment is his ability to turn hits out of music that challenges. Reznor recently returned to recording under the Nine Inch Nails moniker with the album Hesitation Marks. Unfortunately, it received mixed criticism. Regardless, we all know that artists responsible for the type of legendary albums that Reznor has made bear the weight of an impossible standard and occasionally need a fresh source of inspiration. For Reznor -- no stranger to collaborative efforts over the years -- we feel the input of others might be just the thing to reignite a creative flame and return the maverick to his rightful place as a sonic pioneer and torch runner for electronic innovation in heavy music.

NIN is heading to BB&T Center, so we put together a list of five individuals we want to see Reznor collaborate with. These artists' own work has placed them in a category worthy of Reznor's peerage and they're folks we believe would get Reznor back on the warpath of sonic evolution.

5. Brian Eno

Though Reznor kind-of-sort-of already collaborated with Brian Eno via his work with his hero, David Bowie, on "I'm Afraid of Americans" (Eno has a co-writing credit on the track), we would love to see a more concentrated pairing of the two illustrious emissaries of progressive art. Reznor has frequently been compared to Eno in recent times for their obvious similarities, both sonic and ethical, so the collaboration makes sense on paper. However, we do fear that the pairing of such heralded individuals might cause the world to literally explode.

4. Björk

If the '90s provided us with a single person on an equal plane to Trent Reznor in terms of innovation and progression, it would have to be Björk. The Icelandic howler has had electronic elements play a strong role in every one of her myriad opuses, and while the (formerly) unpredictable personalities of the two artists would no-doubt make for a short partnership, we can only imagine the aural pleasures to come of this combo.

3. King Buzzo

In interviews around 2009, it seemed Reznor dropped the angry and disenfranchised bit that had been his calling card; having found sobriety and love, he claimed it would be inappropriate and feigned. So, what's a musical genius of Reznor's caliber to do when anger and sadness no longer provide potent inspiration? You get weird as fuck, that's what you do.

Buzz from the Melvins has carved a path for the advent of grunge, sludge, and above all, weirdos. Over decades of donning muumuus and pounding out influential, slack-stringed sludge masterpieces, Buzz has become a cult icon. At the least, the resulting material would almost definitely be heavy beyond compare.

2. Damon Albarn

Though many Americans still know Albarn exclusively from his work with British alt-rock heroes, Blur, the multi-instrumentalist has provided the lion's share of creative fiber for Gorillaz since the conceptual projects inception. Albarn is a criminally unsung innovator that has raised some serious questions about our connections with art and music via the Gorillaz concept, but beyond that, the dude writes some incredible stuff and could make for an extremely interesting foil for the reformed Reznor.

1. Anna Calvi

Calvi is young, fresh, and, on the surface, makes her art a world away from that of Reznor. But to bring this list full circle, Calvi has been championed by Brian Eno since the release of her debut full length and her music is laced with enough dark imagery and noisy sonics to make us wonder "what if?" Both are also talented multi-instrumentalists with a knack for building drama in music.

Nine Inch Nails. With Gary Numan. 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 30, at BB&T Center, 1 Panther Parkway, Sunrise. Tickets cost $35.50 to $95.25. Call 954-835-7825, or visit

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David Von Bader