March 2, 2008
Who You Gonna Call?

Ever since Trent "I Like To Shower Regularly" Reznor posted the words "two weeks" on his dumb blog-like thing, seemingly implying that something was going to happen in -- you guessed it, two weeks, his legions of dangerously unstable fans have been obsessing over what he could possibly have meant. Was a new NIN album about to be released? Was Trent going to finally admit that he likes to shower with other men? Did he just get finished watching Total Recall? Unfortunately, they were right the first time. However, for some inexplicable reason, many of these unhinged wackos were under the laughably misguided impression that the new NIN offering would be an EP of some sort. Just a few new songs Trent's been kicking around in the studio. Not quite, but thanks for playing. Tell him what they've won, Rod! Oh, Rod's dead. Shit. I guess I'll tell you myself, then.

No, instead of a wimpy little EP, or Year Zero Pt. 2 (ed. note: Year Zero Pt. 2 will never actually be made), Trent decided it would be a better idea to unload upon his loyal followers, most of whom are virgins, a goddamned metric shit-ton of crazy instrumental music that makes The Fragile look like the "Deep" promo. I mean, seriously, Jesus Christ, 36 tracks?!?! Doesn't this guy have anything better to do than make music all day? While those of us who actually are cool were going out and doing cool kickass stuff on Friday nights, Trent and his nerd friends were at home slaving away on Ghosts I-IV, a collection of soundtracks for daydreams or some such hippie nonsense. Or, if you prefer, it can be one long soundtrack to hibernate to for 3-4 months.

Of course, right now I sound like a dickhead. But that's just my job. I get paid each time I hurt Trent's feelings (by the way, I am very rich). Honestly, though, I'm not complaining. He has gone from putting out one LP per U.S. Presidential administration to releasing more music in one weekend than many artists do in their entire career. He may not be as socially active and popular with the ladies as I am, but at least he has something to show at the end of the day other than a splitting headache and two dead hookers in the closet.

The good thing about Ghosts I-IV is that it doesn't suck. It's always a refreshing feeling when there's a new Nine Inch Nails release that doesn't suck (as I recall, there have been several). The other good thing about Ghosts I-IV is that it should be more than enough music to stop people from complaining for the next couple weeks. Note that I said "should be," not "is." I considered writing up one of my usual album reviews with the cute little icons and such, like I did for The Fragile, AWITHA_TEETHA and Year Zero, but I'll be damned if I'm going to do that for this fucking monstrosity. I mean, come on. You're fucking crazy if you think I'm going to do that. Don't you know how long that would take? Okay, I'll do it. But you owe me.













Mercifully, Trent spared us the trouble of actually having "names" for the 36 songs. Specific titles are so 2007. Instead, we have generic pseudo-names like "4 Ghosts I," "17 Ghosts II," and what will undoubtedly be a smash hit single, "33 Ghosts IV." This is a much better idea. Now we'll have people at concerts shouting "Play 26 Ghosts III!!!" over and over and it still won't matter because NIN never takes requests. Also, thanks to the overall lack of words this time around, we can (hopefully) avoid another onslaught of NIN lyric interpretations. And the best thing of all is that the whole album is way too long to fit on one CD, which is very convenient as I greatly prefer having to switch from one disc to another while I'm speeding down the freeway at 90 miles an hour. Anyway, let's start this thing so I can actually have it finished before I'm 40 and arthritic.

The album gets the party started with a slow, dreary piano thing, and throws in some "ooooooeeeeeee" stuff for good measure. You know, the kind of song Trent likes to make when he feels sad and lonely and old and thinks everybody hates him and just needs someone to hug him and tell him it's okay and let's go to Wendy's and get a Frosty. Not too bad, if you're into that kind of stuff. And hey, it's short.

Thank god the droning synths are back! Not to be confused with Richard Patrick's magnificent drone guitar, of course. Richard is gone, and we need to just accept that and move on. There's some more mournful piano left over from the previous song, in case you feel like crying a little more before the music starts to rock. At least, I hope it starts to rock. Oh please don't let this whole thing be two hours of nothing but this shit.

Okay, here we go. Now it's starting to actually rock. Not a whole lot, but it's a promising sign, at least. Trent and friends pick up the pace a little, with actual drums, and something resembling a funky bass line. I don't know exactly what kind of weird Eastern instruments he's using here, but it's making me want to eat goat meat all of a sudden.

You may not be aware of this, but Nine Inch Nails albums often have noisy parts that make your head hurt. "4 Ghosts I" is one of those parts. Trent's all like "check it out, I can play guitar passably now," and then as soon as you start to agree, he's like "psych, I still suck at guitar" and then destroys your eardrums. Asshole.

For some reason this song makes me think of Darth Vader watching a Quentin Tarantino movie. I'm not entirely sure why, but as soon as I figure it out, I won't bother to let you know. It's slow, creepy and ominous, and excessive listening may have a laxative effect. Not that that's necessarily a bad thing. ;) God I'm stupid.

About goddamn time the xylophones show up! Trent has this way of taking musical instruments that aren't conventionally considered "cool," and, well, playing them anyway because he's weird. This would be a great song to play for your kids when you want them to shut the hell up for four minutes and eighteen seconds. Sure, there's that ever-present looming sense of dread, but it's more of a happy kind of dread. Kind of like knowing that you're about to die by suffocating in a giant fudge sundae. Or knowing you still have thirty more Nine Inch Nails songs to listen to.

Hey, what time is it? It's time to get funky, like the pasty white guy/girl you are! I'm guessing Atticus had a lot to do with this song, because there's no way Trent could come up with a beat this cool by himself. Either way, I'm sure you will enjoy dancing badly to this tune in your bedroom, and I'm sure I will be videotaping it.

Slow, sludgy cock rock jam. This song probably would have been titled "I Have A Really Big Penis" if NIN didn't already have a song called that. Guys, this would be a perfect song to play for your lady-friend on a first date. You'll get to second base for sure, at least. (And I will be videotaping it)

More piano again, but at least this time there's a little beat you can kind of get into so you don't feel too gay. Assuming you haven't already turned this off and put on some Motörhead at this point. I can't totally blame you if you have. I mean, Motörhead does kick some ass.

The "Ghosts II" section starts now, apparently. It starts out actually rocking, more or less. I mean, not like "8 Ghosts I" rocking, but it'll do for the time being. This song is all loud and clangy. You like that, don't you? You would.

Wow, somebody sure likes their stringed instruments. Not that there's anything wrong with that. Weepy strings and sparse piano over an ethnic beat (I'll probably be using the word "ethnic" a lot here; I have a limited vocabulary, deal with it).

Hey, you know what this album needs? Some piano. Oh, here we go, an introspective, pretty piano tune. How relax-- shit, it just started rocking! Trent makes you think he's pussing out again just long enough to lull you into a false sense of security, then proceeds to punch you in the head with his big meaty, sweaty arm (pictured below). And he rocks out for over a whole minute! He's still got it (for now)!

Not to be confused with that piece of shit movie Thir13en Ghosts. This is... oh, it's another introspective, pretty piano tune. Better get used to these, I guess. Trent even mouth-breathes into the microphone a little towards the end, and I know how you ladies get all wet whenever he does that shit. Of course, whenever I do it, people just ask if I'm retarded.

Ethnic flair galore! Crazy beats and sitars and dulcimers and god knows what else. This song makes me want to call tech support while rocking out at my desk with a Slurpee and a mouthful of goat meat. Have you ever had goat before? It's pretty good. I could go for some naan too, while we're at it.

Hey how about some more of that ethnic flair. Sure, why not. But can you make it a little slower and noisier this time? Can you do that for me? I mean, it's not like I'm asking for that much. Oh, thanks! Hey, can you spot me 30 bucks? Fuck you then.

You didn't seriously think you'd go through an entire Nine Inch Nails album without some in-your-face tambourine, did you? What are you, stupid? This fast-paced number not only has a spicy old-school beat and piles of tambourine, but also has some weird-ass chanting (not to be confused with weird ass-chanting) going on, which I guess qualifies it for the coveted ethnic flair icon. Trent should go to Asia or wherever more often.

Things slow down a little here, and Trent drags out the Fisher-Price xylophone for some more noodling. Hey, he can't rock as much as he used to. Cut the guy some slack.

"Ghosts II" closes on a sort of upbeat-ish note, and there's some more weird whispery stuff going on (control yourselves, ladies, we've still got a long way to go). It almost sounds like there are words being sung over the funky beat, and certainly there will be dorks on the internet trying to decipher them. You know, the same dorks on the internet who are still giddy because their dumb screen name showed up with a dumb number next to it on some dumb list on some dumb website a year ago. In other words, you.

ALL RIGHT!!!! TIME FOR "GHOSTS III!" ROCK!!!! The third act begins by jumping out at you with a loud, noisy beat fresh from Atticus Ross' beat sweatshop. I've seen that place on Dateline, and trust me, the conditions are terrible. Kids work there for like 2 cents a day, with no air conditioning. But the beats are so worth it!

Oh hey, more doom and gloom and noise. After a couple minutes of "Wretched"-esque droning sounds, a "Starfuckers"-esque beat arises out of the noise and makes it even noisier. Then some piano comes in. Pretty standard Nine Inch Nails, actually. All it needs is Trent whining about some skank who wouldn't put out and it would be perfect.

Wow, okay, more xylophone. All right, we'll do that. The beat is fairly enjoyable, and there's some more droning synth for you droning synth fans. I think this album has more xylophone in it than any other Nine Inch Nails album, including that one tribute album of covers made up almost entirely of xylophones. Well, actually, it probably has more anything in it than any other Nine Inch Nails album, since it's over 87 hours long.

In a sudden, dramatic change of pace, Trent goes for the introspective, pretty piano melody. That's new! Never done that before! This time, however, it's backed by some more ethnic junk and punctuated by a sparse, heavy beat that sounds like Saul Williams' "Raised To Be Lowered" someone hitting a bunch of metal chains and plastic tubs. Of course, I'm sure whatever they actually used was much more sophisticated than that.

Trent's long-awaited official tribute to Michael Jordan is quite noisy, with no immediately discernable instruments. Just like the real Michael Jordan. Whatever is in there has had the everloving fuck distorted out of it. Sounds like maybe there's a tuba, and possibly an accordion and/or jazz flute. I demand answers. And seriously, who do I have to blow to get some piping hot goat meat around here? I'm hungry.

More funkiness ensues, along with some strange vocal samples. This song would sound great in an 80's movie with Nick Nolte in it. Like, in a scene with Nick Nolte chasing some drug dealers in an undercover police car. Or maybe Kurt Russell, I don't care.

I'm not sure if Trent knew they were recording when this was made. Sounds like he was just testing out the drums while Atticus left the ambience machine on before going to the bathroom. What the hell is taking him so long in there, anyway? Did he fall in?

They really throw everything into this rockin' number. Guitars? Check. Drums? Check. Droning synths? Check. Tambourine? Of course. Piano? Check. Palpable sense of unease? You know it!

Another slow, sludgy rocker (the song's pretty slow and sludgy, too). If "8 Ghosts I" didn't get you laid, this one will definitely do the trick. If not, then just give up.

Okay, enough with that "Ghosts III" shit. Time for some "Ghosts IV" action! Oh crap, looks like Trent's busted out the banjo for this one! Look out! And do I hear a glockenspiel? Yeah, Trent, you have lots of instruments. We get it. You're cool.

Oh, here we go. This is more like it. Rock that tambourine. This almost sounds like something that could be on The Fragile, except, you know, good. Just kidding! No, but seriously, where was this song back in 1999 when we needed it?

This song starts out sounding like it could go either way. Will it be cool and rockin' like the last song, or will it be a sappy "poor me" piano song instead? It actually ends up trying to be somewhere in between. It doesn't know what it wants to be, and will probably have identity issues later in life. Other, cooler songs will give it wedgies in the bathroom at school.

We're back in cock rock territory. Don't act surprised, you knew it was gonna happen. Actually, this is one of the songs that will give the previous song wedgies. This is a standout track, nice and noisy, Downward Spiral-esque, just how you like it. I actually wish it were a little longer (Trent wishes the same thing, no doubt).

This is another song that would sound great for Nick Nolte to chase drug dealers to. I know I say that about lots of songs, but I'm serious this time. Maybe he could follow them to a dark shipyard for a shootout or something. How old is that guy, anyway? I wonder if it's too late. Does anybody know how to get in touch with his agent?

Is this album over yet? I'm tired. Oh, shit. Well, this song is bouncy, weird and a little creepy. It's what the Teletubbies might listen to in hell. What ever happened to the Teletubbies? They're probably partying with Nick Nolte right about now.

The last few songs have been awfully noisy, and the neighbors were starting to get pissed off. This one is much more relaxed, so hopefully I won't get evicted. It starts out with mostly banjos, or mandolins, or whatever the fuck guitar-type instruments, I don't know/care. Then the court-mandated introspective piano melody comes in. Not bad, sounds like something on Still (other than the dried pancake syrup that I can't fucking seem to get off of it). Some weird feedback noise starts to seep in towards the end, because feedback is the best thing ever apparently.

Finally, the last song! Oh, I mean, there's still one more after this. Another cool beat that Trent will probably take credit for because what is anybody going to do about it. Nothing, that's what. Go back and sit down, Atticus. This song isn't as cool as "29 Ghosts IV," but most songs aren't. It's still better than "Where Is Everybody," but then again, most songs are.

This time, seriously, it's the last song. Of course, in typical NIN fashion, the last song has to be a real downer. More sad "nobody loves me" piano. It's basically Trent's way of saying "Okay, party's over, now get the fuck out of my house." Hey, no problem. I mean, "31 Ghosts IV" already left, so there's not much reason to stick around anyway. Besides, it sounds like you're about to break out into "Something I Can Never Have" at any moment now, and I definitely don't want to be here for that. I'm taking your Cool Ranch Doritos though. Later!

In conclusion, this is one really long piece of work. I mean, really, really, really long. If you're thinking about having kids when you start listening to it, they will be in college before it's over. But if you have the time to kill, there are worse things you could do. And I'd be willing to bet you a Snickers bar that Ghosts I-IV is better than whatever musical turd Filter is crapping out this year. Speaking of turds, some might feel the need to attempt to compare it conceptually to Sigur Ros' ( ) album for some stupid reason, but I'd be quick to point out a few key differences: namely, Ghosts I-IV is actually interesting, and you can do more than simply take a shit to it. I mean, if you wanted to take a shit while listening to Ghosts I-IV, I'm sure you could, but I would be careful not to get your feces all over the place while dancing on the toilet seat during Atticus' stuff. That could be unpleasant. On that note, I'm going to listen to it some more.

If you're not currently digging out your credit card to buy this album (assuming you haven't already) or begging your ugly parents to buy it for you (assuming you haven't already), you are a lousy fan and you deserve to get your ass kicked in front of your girlfriend and/or boyfriend and/or mom. Seriously. It's 36 damn songs, most of which are actually good, that your imaginary friend Trent slaved over so that he can pay the electric bill. It gets pretty chilly in his mansion up in the hills this time of year, so quit being such a cheap ass and help a brother out.

Home | Top of Page | Glossary | Contact | The RSS That Feeds