Nine 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 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.