Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I-IV, opinion

It came out of nowhere like a bomb. But it’s a lovely bomb.

I’m far from the biggest Nine Inch Nails fan, but somehow I have most of their (or his) records; probably because there’s not that many despite increased output since the middle of this decade.

Anyway, I downloaded the album, from a pirate site, although I paid the $5 (which was about £3) to the site which offered me a link that would cut off after a few kb and then tell me I exceeded my limit (still got no reply about that), and I liked it. I really liked it!

The things I never liked about Nine Inch Nails included lines like “broken bruised forgotten sore, too f*cked up too care anymore” delivered with fake macho angsty music that was Depeche Mode on steroids, with the subtlety of Kevin The Teenager. But amid all that, he can make some nice pop tunes and instrumentals when he sits down.

So, here Ghosts I-IV is all instrumentals. 110mins worth, 36 tracks born from a 10 week session. My criticism would be that a few tracks could’ve been shaved off but otherwise I enjoyed it immensely. To backtrack, those tracks that didn’t grab me, may at another occasion.
It’s not demeaning to say that this is background music: you’d probably ‘get it‘ mostly by playing it while looking out the window of a bus, train or plane, at night in bed or at a cafe. The music is largely simple rhythm, scatterings of riff and texture. You can tell there was some simplicity in making it, but simplicity doesn’t mean rubbish. You can make a really concentrated album that’s nothing but a pile of a crap. But even so there’s lots of detail here. I really think a lot of people outside of the NIN fanbase would love it. It’s not ground breaking, but it’s great. And it was a no-brainer as to who I would listen to between this and the new Charlatans record.

As for the model employed for distribution, I think it’s great as it’s shows an awareness of how things can work outside of the typical structure. At the same time though, I’m not too ‘woo’ about it. I wouldn’t mind listening to a great album if it came on a crackly, mono tape for £6. Sure it’s not quality or convenient, but I don’t care about the medium that much, I only care about the content.

Fortunately, Trent Reznor seems to have balanced both here. A thoroughly enjoyable record that I’ve played a lot (and will continue to) and would recommend to others. Thank you.


One Comment

  1. I personally think this album is the best album i have listened to in some time. I just can’t get over how the music is simple and minimalist, yet has such depth to it.

    I think you need to give a little more credit to how trent decided to distribute the record. First i can’t see how a traditional label would have wanted to put something like this out. It isn’t something that would play on the radio or mtv, and has no real hit single on it.

    Mo: Indie labels put out uncommercial stuff all the time. I think the distribution method is great but at the end of the day it shouldn’t be the crux of why people like an album. A small band indie act couldn’t do what Trent did to this scale.

    It is also has a creative commons license which it just cool. He put up an official torrent to the free part of the album. Then had a nice price structure for everyone from just checking it out person to fanatical fan.

    Mo: Creative Commons really is a nice move. I know of one book that came with that license and it shows an artist who yawns at traditional copyright and isn’t fearful of people using/modifying his work. It really is the future and he’s adopted it early. That I applaud a lot.

    I’m sorry to hear that so many people hard problems with the official site. I had no problem at all and actually got amazing download speed from it.


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