The Gentleman Loser

Thoughts and Musings of a Loser

The SlipSo yeah, late last night, only a few months after releasing an expansive instrumental double album for just a $5 download, nine inch nails releases a new 10-track/43 min album completely for free. Not instrumentals this time, but a more standard album called “the slip” and available for download in many different audio formats. And it ain’t a bad album either. Don’t really know where this one falls sonically or thematically in relation to other releases, it’s a somewhat hard to classify album. Tracks are as follows:

  1. 999,999
  2. 1,000,000
  3. letting you
  4. discipline
  5. echoplex
  6. head down
  7. lights in the sky
  8. corona radiata
  9. the four of us are dying
  10. demon seed

The first track is a weird glitchy intro to the album. The four tacks that follow sound like they could be at home with the 2005 release [with_teeth], except done better, louder, harder. In fact, the songs “1,000,000″ and especially “letting you” are about as loud and angry as I have ever heard nine inch nails. The song “Discipline,” which was released a few weeks ago as a radio single, sounds like Trent said “Okay, lets make a dancy song like ‘Only‘, except this time not so silly sounding.”

“Head Down” is immediately my favorite of the album. Doesn’t really sound like anything else I have heard by nin, the chorus is warm lush all while glitch and distortion rule the background. “Lights in the Sky” is your nin-standard quiet song that every album seems to have. “Corona Radiata” and “The Four of Us Are Dying” are instrumentals that sounds like they would be at home on The Fragile, aside from the layers, note the signature guitar stylings. The last track, “Demon Seed” is another one that is hard to place, some of the synth sounds are reminiscent of the Reznor-produced Saul Williams album The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of Niggy Tardust, regardless, it’s probably my second favorite song on the album and has some unique lyrical progression.

I also find it interesting that I noted a trend on nine inch nails discussion boards where fans were wishing they could have the option to pay for this release. Like some sort of strange Stockholm’s syndrome, once released from the captivity of the status quo for record releases, they try to go running back to something more familiar.

Below I have set up a playlist with the entire album, so you can just go ahead and check it out now if you like:


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So if any of you know me, you probably know that I am a big fan of nine inch nails. Like, obsessive fan, as in I used to have a scrapbook full of nine inch nails stuff…and only threw it away last year.

So Trent has been doing everything humanly possible to say to the world “Hey! Look what you can do when you are not on a label!” He releases the multi-tracks for his entire last album and creates a website where people can post remixes of nine inch nails music (okay, he was technically still with Interscope for that). He works with poet/rapper Saul Williams and they release their collaborative work for free on the internet, ala Radiohead. Then they release a nice big fat two disc instrumental CD called Ghosts with no advertising or fanfare, just a $5 download (or free download of about 1/4 of the songs) with options for getting assorted limited edition physical versions. And what the hell, while he’s at it, he releases it under a Creative Commonslicense, which all-but plainly states that we are all intended to experiment with this music as much as he and the other musicians did while creating it.

Now he goes one step further into the world of film. He wants fans to shoot videos for all of the songs on the album and is working with YouTube to sort through them, pick the exceptional ones, and do “something” with them.

I should really be excited about this shouldn’t I? I mean here is a band that I have loved for the last decade and a half being mixed with amateur/indie (seriously, those two words are interchangeable, but one sounds more respectable) filmmaking which I have done one way or another for almost as long and is currently something I obsess over almost as much. However, I remember always wanting to remix nine inch nails and wishing for multitracks, but now that I have them, all I did was one crappy remix of The Hand That Feeds. It seems like the same thing may happen here.

Regardless, I still think it is a great idea, and I can’t wait to see how it plays out. What he is doing here is quite similar to what we are doing with Wis-Kino and the Kino movement in general. The important subtext is in this part of Trent’s announcement:

“This isn’t a contest and you don’t win elaborate prizes – it’s meant to be an experiment in collaboration and a chance for us to interact beyond the typical one-way artist-to-fan relationship”

The heart of the Kino movement has been collaboration over competition. This is what sets it apart from things like The 48-Hour Film Project, which may have similarity to our 48-hour film challenges but is competitive, as well as other independent cinema which has become a matter of style and attitude over substance. It seems like what is being set up here will develop into a real collaborative dynamic between fans that can draw off of their individual creative talents.

I have seen in the recent years, that the general direction nine inch nails has been going in has been one that involves active participation of the fans to create a collaborative reality. Look at last year’s ARG promotion for Year Zero, while it was most certainly an ad campaign, I watch from the message boards and saw people forming constructive (and sometimes destructive) social advocacy, others worked on a number of collaborative art projects involving the theme of activism that predominated the ARG. The ARG itself required the collective detective work of all the participants.

All the tech geeks around me know (and lament) the term “Web 2.0″ (or it’s sexy counterpart Porn 2 point oh yeah), hell, your viewing it right now. It seems as though Mr. Reznor is as much a futurist as a good musician, because he and only a small number of other musicians seem to be paving the way to move those concepts into an industry that is desperately trying to find relevance in today’s culture. Today’s (and yesterday’s and the day before’s) music industry sucks (well, to be more precise, the major labels suck), but maybe we can elevate it into a more personal, enlightened experience. Because let’s face it, ain’t nobody ever been excited about “The Music Industry” outside of stuffy white men who are lining their pockets because of it, let’s see if we can’t all start to benifit in some way from it now.


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