Monday, March 3, 2008

Outsideleft: NIN: Free Work's Alright If You Like Vibraphones

Nine Inch Nails
Ghosts I-IV

Remember back when Trent Reznor made some big announcement about dropping out of the reindeer game of labels and pledged to go it alone? It came off like he was aping Prince who had recently done the same thing for the first or second time, but then in many ways Trent Reznor is always aping Prince: hermetic studio methods, persistence of interest that increasingly exceeds its value, continuation of a vibe that was groundbreaking two decades ago, etc etc. I could go on. Trent Reznor is partially awesome in the same way Prince is totally awesome – I don’t like their music much anymore, but it pleases me greatly that they still come out of the cryo-chamber every couple years and do it again. Maybe NIN will get a Super Bowl gig, too?

It proves that Reznor has effectively destroyed the pretty hate machine in that I heard about this new album of his not through Pitchfork, not from a publicist’s email but in a post on a local message board from a guy that manages an 80s cover band. I wish all my information came through such channels, because it is information rooted in love, perhaps a cartoonish, goth-lingering, faux-hateful, anachronistic kind of love, but love nonetheless.

The album is available for free download but my download was corrupt (a fact which, if I was nineteen, I could find great meaning in) so I’m letting the stream of Rez pour over me. It’s a rather lovely soundtrack-y affair, opening with the vibraphone minimal vamp “21 Ghosts III” – evidently the future will sound like Stereolab form the 90s, which sounds like Steve Reich form the 70s. It has a sweet exotica flavor to it, the throb of the jeep beats rattling through his crystalline jungle. “15 Ghosts I” ushers our vibraphonist into a darker part of the wood, with tribal drums. All this humid leafy ambience is cut with some crowd noise samples, like Paul “19” Hardcastle was producing a Les Baxter tribute. I kinda like this new Nine Inch Nails – it sounds a little clever, inventive, subtle even. The façade starts to slip on the piano-dominated “10 Ghosts II” as we guide our canoe into for industrialized waters, but its still interesting. Read more...

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