The Null Device

Ghosts I-IV

They were a 1990s alternative act who hit the chart with an anthem of alienation and disaffection, before going weird and experimental, telling their record label to get lost and releasing a new record online, free for the taking. No, not Radiohead, Nine Inch Nails. Their new album Ghosts I-IV is out online, with the first 9 tracks available for free in MP3 form and the entire thing, in MP3 or lossless FLAC, costing a mere US$5. Trent Reznor even uploaded it to The Pirate Bay for you, which is probably just as well as NIN's official server's not holding up very well. There will also be a series of deluxe versions, including heavyweight vinyl, signed prints of artwork and Blu-Ray discs full of high-resolution separate tracks for making your own remix (which you're free to do as you please with, given that it's under the Creative Commons).

Musically, don't expect the same old Hot Topic teen-angst-noise; if anything, freed from his contract to "alternative" sausage factory Interscope, Trent Reznor has gone towards a more introspective ambient minimalism, with the odd touch of electric guitar or choppy breakbeat here and there, like a sort of black-clad Scott Walker. It's a bit repetitive in places, and parts (such as the opening track) carry their 1990s alternative legacy in the form of a sort of jarring dissonance in the harmonies that is of that generation. (Or at least this is the case with Ghosts I; I haven't heard the rest yet.) Also, the booklet is lovely; a collection of artful Lomo photographs of empty landscapes and fields of light and shade.

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