Nine Inch Nails Ghosts I-IV Review

Nine Inch Nails Offers Latest Album, Ghosts, As Free DownloadNine Inch Nails latest release, Ghosts I-IV, has generated a tremendous amount of hype, more for NIN’s distribution approach than the music itself.

The group is offering the release in a variety of versions, and is giving away a selection of free tracks, Ghosts I, as a teaser. You can also download the collection officially via BitTorrent.

The download includes:

  • DRM-free MP3s, encoded with LAME at 320kbps
  • A 40-page pdf book about the release
  • A digital extras pack with wallpapers, icons, etc

The entire collection can be downloaded for $5, or you can order a $10 2 CD set and other deluxe and limited edition versions.

While the release is definitely an interesting experiment in distribution, it’s less interesting as a musical experiment. Ghosts is basically an informal collection of improvised instrumentals that lean towards that dark ambient and industrial sound. Some tracks echo Eno’s Ambient 2 & Ambient 4, others Angelo Badalamenti’s soundtrack for Twin Peaks, and others have more of a NIN-lite feel.

Here’s what NIN’s Trent Reznor has to say about the music:

This music arrived unexpectedly as the result of an experiment. The rules were as follows: 10 weeks, no clear agenda, no overthinking, everything driven by impulse. Whatever happens during that time gets released as… something.

The end result is a wildly varied body of music that we’re able to present to the world in ways the confines of a major record label would never have allowed .

This may bring out the haters – but there’s nothing on Ghosts I-IV that’s as challenging or original as the dark ambient work of Eno, Aphex Twin, Autechre, Steve Roach or many others.

That’s OK, though. From Reznor’s comments, Ghosts is stuff that probably wouldn’t have been released as a traditional album. It’s just Nine Inch Nails trying out something different and seeing where it goes.

The release is already a success for NIN – they’ve sold out of their $300 deluxe edition. If Ghosts I-IV gets people to open their ears to dark instrumental and ambient artists, it’s a success in my book, too.

13 thoughts on “Nine Inch Nails Ghosts I-IV Review

  1. i think it’s pretty good overall. yes, nothing superamazing, but very much worth the price. plus it is always interesting to hear ‘alternative’ output from established artists. i hope to see much more stuff like this, both from the composition and the distribution standpoint.

  2. I think the music is easily worth $5 (or even the $10 that I paid to get the physical CDs), but you’re right that it’s nothing particularly groundbreaking. If I was forced to choose between between Ghosts and the new Autechre (which fortunately I’m not) it would be Autechre in a heartbeat; however, the NiN music is interesting enough that if NiN releases “Ghost V – VIII” I’ll definitely buy a copy.

  3. I just purchased the two cd set for $10, and downloaded the songs. I haven’t listened to all of them, but from what I’ve listen to so far I give two thumbs up! =)

  4. Thanks for the feedback – I’d love to hear opinions on Ghosts I-IV.

    This could end up being an extremely influential album – not because of the music, though, but because of the distribution and licensing. There will probably be hundreds of Ghosts remixes, and you’ll probably hear these as background music in Internet video productions.

  5. doctec- in your review, you don’t talk much about what you think of the music.

    What do you think of it? Thumbs up or down?

  6. Well, actually I did say what I think (albeit in a somewhat oblique manner): if the album is judged in terms of previous NIN releases (and thus with built-in expectations), it will likely disappoint the listener. However, if one is willing to listen to the album on its own terms – separate from any expectations and with open ears, as I did – it will likely be met with approval. Ghosts stands up very well on its own, it is engaging and (in its way) challenging, and the production is immaculate. More importantly, however, it signals that NIN is ready to reinvent itself. I see this as a good thing: NIN painted itself into a stylistic corner with The Downward Spiral and has been trying ever since to figure out if – and how – it should break free from the precedents that were set with that work. If Ghosts shows that NIN is ready to move in a new direction, and is an indication of the form this new direction will take, then I’m all for it!

  7. I love Trents lyrical bent, but his album, as previously stated stands on it’s own. I listened to it not thinking of it as a NIN album at all. That works, if you expect another Downward Spiral or Pretty Hate Machine you will be disappointed, but try putting on your headphones and closing your eyes.

    Truly beautiful music.

  8. Trent Reznor really surpirsed me here with the new album. I loved it the momment i listened to it. Its an amzinf peice of work. NIN and Radiohead will make history.

  9. Trent Reznor is one of the key points in the history of music. Radiohad and NIN will make history. His influences are soo diverse and it expanded my mind.

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