Shortly after midnight last night, a short message appeared on the nin.com homepage:
Click HERE to get the new full-length nine inch nails record: the slip. (thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years- this one’s on me)
Suddenly remembering the “two weeks!” tease posted there a while back, I chose my format with a greedy grin and downloaded my free new Nine Inch Nails album. Ten tracks. 43 minutes and change. Real songs, vocals and all.
Here’s our first-listen review:
It’s clear from the very start of the album that things are different in the house of Nails. Opener 999,999‘s ambient dreaminess possesses Reznor’s signature air of impending doom, but there’s a sense of something brighter looming. Is it just my tired mind, excited that Reznor has officially become the Santa Claus / chief freedom fighter of the music business? Maybe. But as the first track ends, the percolating buzz and abstract vocal track suddenly drop to Trent’s lone voice, as if waking from a dream. The words “how did I slip into…” fade directly into 1,000,000– a snare-heavy dance track with an energized live band sound that’s as refreshing as anything I’ve heard from Reznor in years. Keep an ear out for the sudden free-fall break around 2:55, before crashing back into a more colorful visit to the magnetic funk riff structures of Year Zero, Reznor teasingly whispering “I don’t… feel… anything at all…” over and over.
Letting You: This song is fucking awesome. Trent’s high-impact sonic muscle is fully flexed here with breathless breakbeats, thick distortion buzzing like a swarm of hypersonic hornets, the vocals slutty and mean with an explosive barking chorus. Sick.
Discipline and Echoplex have been made available within the past couple weeks, the latter as a gift to radio and the former as a gift to… Facebook. When I first heard these songs I was underwhelmed, and the feeling hasn’t changed about Echoplex. Poppy, danceable, and better placed in the context of the full album.
Head Down: A perfect example of the ever-restless, constantly evolving direction Reznor’s taking the Nails sound. This song possesses exactly the kind of warmth missing from most of Year Zero. A great track.
Lights In Tthe Sky, made only of Trent’s soft, reflective vocals and soft-stepping piano chords, builds to an unexpected declaration of devotion with beautiful simplicity. A departure from the rest of the album, but by no means a weak point.
Corona Radiata provides the albums only true soundscape, ethereal ambience with occasional muted orb sensations building slowly to a menacing buzz, with what sounds like a mix of screams, cats fighting and a massive flock of birds. It seems Trent’s added some new colors to his apocalyptic palette.
Instrumental track The Four Of Us Are Dying follows, stylistically a more digitized visit to the sounds of The Fragile. Demon Seed closes out the album with a bass-fuzz heavy head-bobbing groove laid over a jagged, irresistable drum track, through ever-deepening layers of vocals. “There is a seed… inside of me…” are the last words you hear before the silence comes suddenly crashing in, and you realize that 43 minutes and 45 seconds have passed in what seems like no time at all.
The Slip picks up and runs like hell with the ball that the magnetic, minimalist Year Zero left behind. It can be called anything but minimalistic, given the sonic depth and much-needed return to the warmth of the full Nails’ band treatment. Suffice to say, it’s going to be fucking awesome to see these songs fleshed out live, especially with Robin Finck back on axe duties after a lengthy stint with Guns ‘N’ Roses.
As Trent himself put it on nin.com, “the music is available in a variety of formats including high-quality MP3, FLAC or M4A lossless at CD quality and even higher-than-CD quality 24/96 WAVE. Your link will include all options- all free. All downloads include a PDF with artwork and credits.” If by some ridiculous stretch of the imagination that’s not enough for you, The Slip will be available in CD and vinyl formats in July as well.
In addition, the album is being released under Creative Commons non-commercial license, so you can feel free to do whatever the hell you want with it. “We encourage you to remix it, share it with your friends, post it on your blog, play it on your podcast, give it to strangers, etc,” said Reznor.
While the record companies scramble to recalibrate their moneymaking format and plug the holes in the crumbling dam of their infrastructure, Trent Reznor’s leading the charge of the new revolution with colors blazing, and the battle’s clearly a no-contest. This is undeniably a watershed moment in the music business, and Reznor’s efforts will undoubtedly be noted as pivotal in getting the new age of music off the ground. He’s walking the walk, engaging in honest, open discussions at a time when the possibilities are limitless and millions of music fans have the music biz by the balls.
“Head down… too late for that,” Trent proclaims at the start of the sixth track, and if he’s talking about the record industry, he’s (once again) hit the nail on the head.
Written by Trent Reznor
Performed by Trent Reznor, Josh Freese, Robin Finck and Allesandro Cortini
Produced by Trent Reznor and Alan Moulder
Get it at nin.com
Reviews published prior to February 23, 2015 used a 1-5 star rating system.