Yesterday while fumbling around through the murky depths of youtube I made a discovery which I couldn’t believe I, of all people, had somehow missed – the new Nine Inch Nails album, Ghosts I-IV has been out for a couple weeks now. I watched a video of front man Trent Reznor promoting a user-made video project to go along with the album and I was totally blown away that something like this had slipped through my internet radar… then he says my favorite word – instrumental. I literally, at that moment, fell over and died. After proper resuscitation and a change of underwear I began to research the Ghosts project further.
The album is actually 4 EPs, each with their own spirits and demons wearing the same Halo 26 label that NIN has assigned it even though each ghost is unique and personal enough to earn its own. I listened to the album directly from NIN.com for the first time and fell in love. Songs like help me I’m in hell and Memorabilia have kept me begging the gods for an instrumental NIN album and Ghosts I-IV fulfilled my every NIN dream. After Year Zero an album like this was really inevitable. The two really aren’t that different except with Ghosts it seems like there’s an instrument missing… the sexy, sublime voice of Trent Reznor. Everything else is there; it’s much like a grand, elaborate party in which the guest of honor has yet to arrive.
There are definitely some ghosts in this album, faint distant tones reminiscent of old work that the band has poured his heart into. In the track 20 Ghosts thick gritty electronic tones overlay a distinct didjeridu-like rhythm taking you to an aboriginal gathering in a steel factory. Songs such as 24 Ghosts stir memories of Pretty Hate Machine as the muted strumming of 3 Ghosts takes you back down the spiral. The entire album is like a haunted house with both spirits and demons lurking around every corner.
Ghosts I-IV was compiled in an intense 10 week period and provided to the public directly through the NIN website for the first time without a recording contract. The first EP Ghosts I can be downloaded – get this – TOTALLY free from the NIN website. The rest of the album is a CHEAP $5 download, or you can go all out and have a physical copy shipped to you in a 2-disc digipack… Saul Williams used this same concept with his new album Niggy Tardust (also produced by Reznor) which was provided as a free download with an optional $5 donation to the artist. See how beautiful life can be without the bullshit factor of record labels???
This album is a needed addition to any music collection. Each track is a painting with dramatic textures and colors and Trent Reznor is truly an artist of sound, blending the beauty and elegance of Monet with the torrid emotional torture of Pollock, and then reaching out for the introspective obscurity of Dali. Ghosts I – IV is definitely more of a gallery than an album.