As we reported earlier this week, Nine Inch Nails released their first album free from a recording contract, entitled ‘Ghosts
Volume I-IV.’ Through the release of his previous album, ‘Year Zero,’ Nine Inch Nails
front (or only) man Trent Reznor was vocal
about his displeasure with the record label, specifically about the limitations to releasing the material and the pricing of the album (he deemed it too high in certain places). Despite these limitations, Reznor used a clever “marketing” device to successfully promote the album: USB drives in bathroom stalls of concert venues were planted at the stadiums hosting NIN on their ‘With Teeth’ tour. Some of these drives had samples of the upcoming ‘Year Zero’ tracks, others had encrypted messages (concert T-shirts were riddled with hidden codes as well) that led to various webpages and phone numbers, slowly revealing an Alternate Reality Game that revealed the world behind the concept of ‘Year Zero.’ With this, Reznor planted the seed and paved the way for his latest release, ‘Ghosts Volume I-IV.’
On March 2nd, the cryptic messages on NIN’s website went away, revealing Reznor’s new project: a 36-track album of instrumental music. As
Now that’s not to say that this isn’t worth picking up and listening to. ‘Ghosts Volume I-IV,’ when it’s on track, is right on track. As I said, it’s hard to note which tracks to draw your attention to as they all tend to blend together (not to mention the naming scheme of 1 Ghosts I, 2 Ghosts I, etc. doesn’t really help clear things up), which is probably the point, but the stand out tracks are there. And the execution of the distribution is great. Reznor took full advantage of this digital revolution. With the download comes the 36 tracks and each track has attached to it a piece of art that reflects the song. So for those with portable music devices that allow for album art, you get a new picture to look at with each tune. And with the download price of $5 for the 36 songs, Reznor’s point is made: the music you want to listen to can be in your earbuds for less money than record companies made you pay.
Overall, I say that the $5 you spend is absolutely worth what you get. However, I personally would have rather had NIN release 10 fully realized tracks than 36 musical ideas. ‘Ghosts Volume I-IV’ feels more like listening to a musical notebook for future songs than it does listening to an album. The songs were good, but given more time, it’s clear a lot of them could have been great.