Nine Inch Nails – Ghosts I-IV

Nine Inch NailsToday I read a post on Google Reader about Nine Inch Nails leader Trent Reznor offering tracks from his new album Ghosts I-IV as a free download. After Radiohead’s trailblazing move of releasing their music for however much people were willing to pay for it, there was talk of who would be next to follow in their wake. Obviously established artists with a large fan base can afford a more “experimental” way of distributing their music and with Reznor’s anti-music industry stance, it’s not too surprising to see Nine Inch Nails follow suite. Indeed, when the official NIN website went down under the huge demand, the original files were then released on the infamous torrent site Pirate Bay for download there.

The album itself is a vague concept work: Reznor and various musicians recorded with a strict 10 week deadline and no overlying theme. The results would be released regardless of what was recorded. Initially thought of being a 5 track EP, Ghosts I-IV has sprawled into a 36 track album made up of instrumentals or “mood pieces”. Clearly Trent Reznor has moved far away from the heavy, industrial sounds of his popular albums and further from the sleek electronica of the last NIN album, Year Zero.  However the concept at face value does remind me of the last M83 album, a disappointing collection of short soundscapes that needed to be fully fleshed out as songs. Ghosts I-IV. Indeed, with only 9 tracks lasting 27 minutes in total, Ghosts I-IV is a brief listen. Only “7 GhostsI” with it’s rumbling guitar and scratching sounds and “8 Ghosts I” with it’s distorted electronics reminds me of NIN of old. As a collection of mood music, the small samples I’ve heard work well.

The stall set out by Ghosts I-IV is a good one. Along with 9 DRM-free tracks, my download included a PDF booklet with photography that accompanies the music. There were also NIN graphics and wallpaper which is a nice touch.  What’s also interesting is the tracks are published under Creative Commons, a digital rights licence that allows users to share, remix and distribute the music itself meaning this is music that’s ripe for remixing, sampling and mashups.  So before the week is out, we could see remixes of these tracks all over the internet. Right now, almost every single song is on Youtube with a static art video. It’s all there.Yes, this is a brave new age of music upon us. But I don’t think Ghosts I-IV will be the landmark album that will truly usher in that era.

Nine Inch Nails – 28 Ghosts IV:


  1. 1 Nine Inch Nails - The Slip « A Heart Full of Hornets

    […] writing about a new Nine Inch Nails album less than six months after their last one was released. Ghosts I-IV was an experimental release, that was created with remixing and sampling in mind, sold online for a […]

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