Nine Inch Nails: Ghosts I-IV Review

In my opinion, some of the best music came out of the 90s--most of my collection is from that era. The music I seek out even today is from artists who established themselves then, and it's rare that I hear a new artist who deserves much of my attention. In fact, the last music review I wrote was roughly a year ago about another mid-90s band: MTV Unplugged: Korn.

Nine Inch Nails falls into a similar category: an artist I discovered previously who has released something new. Ghosts I-IV is exciting for two reasons: the distribution model and the music. Briefly: I always enjoy listening to NIN, but this release may be my favorite.

Trent Reznor (whenever you talk about NIN, you're really just talking about him) has been vocal about how awful record companies are to musicians and has been experimenting and working to find a better method. In particular, the previous album, Year Zero was first available to freely listen to the full album before purchase, and remixes of all NIN work are available thanks to open distribution of the multi-track originals. That's some very pioneering work in itself! Ghosts is available a few different ways, ranging from free to $300 (and the $300 sets were sold out in one day). I paid $5 for the download; I'm comfortable saying that's the best $5 I've spent on music in a very, very long time.

Ghosts is all instrumental tracks put together by a couple of guys looking to have fun making music. The music isn't quite typical NIN, but Reznor obviously played a large role in the sound. The best way I can describe it is that the sound is Halloween-y. Very tense and almost mystical, and fitting to be played at that time of year. You don't need to take my word for it, though, since Ghosts I is free.

I find it funny that I am having a hard time describing the music and picking favorite tracks. A lot of it blends together so smoothly that the whole album is almost like one continuous song. Anyway, the two points that have stood out to me are the tracks with heavy use of the piano and track 24 on Ghosts III.

If more volumes do appear, I'll definitely buy them.

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Absolutely right on! I love NIN and would not hesitate to name Reznor my favorite musician. And my respect for him keeps growing as he strives to connect with his fans in real and innovative ways, and grow musically. His work is never "just another day at the studio" and like it nor not, he's true to himself and his expression through music.

Ghosts was well worth the $10 (I bought the physical 2-CD set). The sound is a bit spooky sometimes, filled both with tension and calm. Saying it is excellent "background" music isn't meant to disparage it in any way: instead it's music I can absorb and be absorbed by rather than necessarily have to concentrate on or ever get tired of.

Kudos to Trent.

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