November 13th, 2012 1:00am

Exactly How It Seems

How to Destroy Angels “Ice Age”

This is one of the most surprising pieces of music I’ve come across in a while: It’s basically Trent Reznor and his collaborators taking the raw elements of bluegrass and warping it into minimalist abstraction. The familiar sound is gutted, but the scaffolding of the structure is still there, or at least implied by sounds that reduce the sound of a banjo or a mandolin to something purely percussive. This aspect of the track reminds me a bit of pieces by John Cage and Steve Reich, but as the song progresses, there’s an ambient drag to it that reminds me of Reznor and Atticus Ross’s previous soundtrack work, and also maybe a bit of Terry Riley. But despite all these highbrow comparisons, “Ice Age” is one of the most warmly melodic pieces of music Reznor has ever been involved in; even with the deconstructed arrangement, it’s way more like a Nickel Creek song than it’s unlike it. Everything about this song is a remarkable balancing act.

Buy it from Amazon.

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