"Ripe" is the final track, an atmospheric instrumental, on The Fragile vinyl. "Ripe (With Decay)" is the final track on The Fragile CD and cassette, with an extra part at the end.
The song "Ripe" is a very moody, dark finale to The Fragile. The cassette and CD versions of the song feature an additional section, "Decay". Many of the instruments sound out of tune or oddly tuned, and some of the parts seem to be incomplete. Trent Reznor spoke on this, saying that The Fragile was supposed to be a continuation of The Downward Spiral, with the protagonist going from happy to depressed on the first side (Left), then finding new hope on (Right) only to lose it again.
This version is available on the vinyl edition of The Fragile, including the 2017 DE download. After the slinking guitar riff returns post-piano improvisation, a loop of it and the insect noises below simply fade out.
Ripe (With Decay)
This version is on the original CD and audio cassette releases of The Fragile. The song mutates from a very beautiful piano improvisation by Mike Garson above a methodical, slinking guitar riff in 6/8, gradually descending into chaos with several instruments playing wildly and disharmoniously before all the sounds stop at once. The opening riff returns, this time with insect loops and a deep bass pad, crossfading with "Decay"; this movement initially builds on the "Ripe" riff with horns, bleating synth and piano, then slows down to a cadence of the bass pad surrounded by crickets. The second part of "Decay" begins in 4/4 with a new bass guitar riff, gradually joined by distant drum loops, strange acoustic and electric guitars, and Reznor's wordless, harmonized vocals, which cut off layer by layer.
Ripe (With Decay) (Alt)
Released exclusively through Apple Music. Doesn't actually contain "Decay." The various layers built atop the 6/8 riff are joined by manipulated beats.
Ripe (With Decay) (Instrumental)
The Fragile: Deviations 1 version. It seems to be a combination of the Apple Music alt version and the same arrangement of "Decay" (including the crossfade with the "Ripe" riff) as the original album.
"Ripe" / "Ripe (With Decay)" has never been played live.