Nine Inch Nails: Hesitation Marks
Time to do my job and shed a little light on this album.
It releases on September 3rd, 2013.
It will be the first album since The Slip, and first release on Columbia Records, making this the first album released on a major label since Year Zero. The album title is a term for wounds that are sometimes made when a person is contemplating suicide by wrist cutting.
Suicide by exsanguination involves reducing the volume and pressure of the blood to below critical levels by inducing massive blood loss. It is usually the result of damage inflicted on arteries. The carotid, radial, ulnar or femoral arteries may be targeted. Death may occur directly as a result of the desanguination of the body or via hypovolemia, wherein the blood volume in the circulatory system becomes too low and results in the body shutting down.
Persons considering a suicide attempt, or trying out the weapon to ascertain its effectiveness, may first make shallow cuts, referred to as hesitation wounds or tentative wounds in the literature. They are often non-lethal, multiple parallel cuts.
Fans have speculated that this is either a reference to Reznor being not quite ready to put NIN to rest, or a reference to the fact that the album is conceptually an “upward spiral” and a reflection of the fact that Reznor did not end up killing himself when he was at his lowest point.
In interviews with The New York Times and SPIN, Reznor stated that he had The Downward Spiral in mind as he worked on Hesitation Marks:
"I felt very aware that it’s 20 years later, and I’m still that guy. I know that guy, and I feel for him. I don’t resent him, I don’t miss him. But how would things feel on the other side of that now, in a much more stable life place, mentally and physically, and with a new family? The incentive has changed. It’s not about, ‘I’m going to kill myself if I don’t get this out of my head.’ But the excavation and the architecture behind it, the motivation behind it, is similar."
"For some reason, when I started working more on Hesitation Marks, I started thinking back romantically about who I was when I was writing The Downward Spiral. I was looking back on who I was then and who I am now and how things have turned out, for better or worse. That was the air the new record was born in. I was looking at the other side of how I was not always honest about who I was in the ’90s — and I knew I wasn’t being honest — and if you sprinkle those negative feelings with some drugs and alcohol, it’s usually not a recipe for success."
This album marks a return to the artwork of Russell Mills, whose work was previously used for March Of The Pigs, The Downward Spiral, Further Down The Spiral and Closure. There is a different cover for each of the five editions. The cover of the Japanese standard edition is a variation on the cover of the US standard edition, with the painting oriented sideways and photographed from a slightly different vantage point. Reznor stated in a radio interview that he couldn’t choose between the various covers and decided to use them all. He also stated that Mills had suggested the album title.
In a post on the official NIN Tumblr account, the various artwork was elaborated on by Mills:
"The artworks, (30 mixed media pieces) that I eventually produced towards uses in the Hesitation Marks releases, evolved out of lengthy exchanges between myself and Trent and in response to the conceptual ideas that thread through the tracks and to the sonic territory that the album explores. I’ve tried to lock into the album’s prevailing mood and echo the album’s essence. The ideas are not communicated in a literal or easily digested form, as this would be boring for me and would insult the intelligence of a potential audience. I’ve tried to make works that obliquely allude to the essence of the subject matter, to its emotional core.
As with my self-initiated works - the paintings, assemblages, collages and multimedia installations - personal ideas and obsessions seep into these works. The organic, the natural, prevailing over or feeding into the industrial, the man made, is a common theme in my work generally and in this instance was particularly apt for the art required.
The works explore ideas of catharsis, of being into dissolution into being, both on a personal and sociological level. They allude to ideas about chaos and order. They deal with ways of suggesting presence in absence. They are a cross between the forensic and a pathology of the personal in which only fragments remain, in which minimal clues can suggest events that may have occurred. They attempt to harness the chaos of a situation, of now, of the personal trauma, of the human condition, into a form that is coherent, a form that accommodates the mess without disguising it as something else. It attempts to capture the essence of these ideas by implication and exclusion. Beneath the form lies the uncertainty and ceaseless flux of the mess, of the chaos.
An amalgam of the contextually-anchored and the process-driven, they are hopefully powerful, arresting, seductive, suggestive and resonant. I hope that they will invite multiple readings.”
ART IS RESISTANCE.