Nine Inch Nails - Ghosts I-IV (Cover Artwork)

Nine Inch Nails

Nine Inch Nails: Ghosts I-IVGhosts I-IV (2008)

Reviewer Rating: 2
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Contributed by: JeloneJelone
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Two hundred and ten songs in eight years. That's how many tunes Prince independently released on full-lengths and EPs after his mid-`90s split with Warner Bros. Records, not counting the 18 that comprised the Arista-distributed Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic. Now, I love Prince a lot. Purple Rain is one.
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Two hundred and ten songs in eight years. That's how many tunes Prince independently released on full-lengths and EPs after his mid-`90s split with Warner Bros. Records, not counting the 18 that comprised the Arista-distributed Rave Un2 the Joy Fantastic. Now, I love Prince a lot. Purple Rain is one of the best records of all time. Sign o' The Times, 1999 and 3121 are all up there too. But I can't name a single Prince song off of any of his indie releases (not counting the seven "1999" remixes he put out for no particular reason). That's because a huge heaping of those 210 songs suck. The guy's a virtuoso for sure, but he also needs someone to smack him around and say no every once in a while.

It is to this extent that some sort of editor, like a record label -- major or minor -- is useful in the creation of art, and not just the distribution of it. "Hey, Prince," the label could say, "Maybe releasing a record of prog-jazz songs that all start with the letter ‚??X' is a bad idea." And the label would be right, and Prince never would have put out Xpectation.

The reason why I bring up Prince in this, a Nine Inch Nails review, is because I fear NIN mastermind Trent Reznor may be on the same path. Fresh off of his split with Interscope, and less than a year after the superb dancepocalypse Year Zero, Reznor has rushed out Ghosts I-IV, a 36-track collection of tepid instrumental audio experiments.

Previous NIN releases like The Fragile and Year Zero had brilliant instrumental industrial tracks -- tunes so perfect in their aggression/depression that they didn't need lyrical or vocal input. Listeners still get that here to some extent, like on the My Bloody Valentine-soaked shoegaze haze of "4 Ghosts I" or the weirdly bluegrassy grind of "14 Ghosts II." Dresden Dolls drummer Brian Viglione lends percussion on bottles and scrap metal to "19 Ghosts III," and the resulting sonic experiment is actually interesting, calling to mind the urban bustle of, say Geino Yamashirogumi.

Most of the tracks on Ghosts I-IV are pretty brief, though -- 24 of the 36 songs are under three minutes long. This brevity often keeps ideas from fleshing out more. Besides, most of these cuts are homogenous blobs, indistinct background music that doesn't do a whole lot. That Reznor wouldn't bother giving these songs proper titles just adds to the half-baked nature of the collection. Right now, they feel more like demos of rhythms for a "real" NIN album.

As an opening statement of independence, Ghosts I-IV is a disheartening work. Bloated and directionless, it wastes listeners' time and money (a lot of money, in fact. Ghosts I-IV has already netted Reznor more than $1.5 million). Like Radiohead's In Rainbows, buyers can purchase a variety of editions of the record. Ghosts I is available for free download, whereas a deluxe package including Ghosts I-IV in MP3, CD and vinyl formats was $300 before it sold out. More modest fans can pick up the CD/MP3 combo for $10, but be prepared to weep, and not because it's the second coming of "Hurt."


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Fine Print: The following comments are owned by whoever posted them. We are not respon sible for them in any way. Seriously.
consider_the_ravens (February 6, 2009)

not as good as the fragile but its hard to rate a cd like this. i personally think its great though but i can see why many people on this site wouldnt like it since they are used to power chords and simple structures songs. not to sound like a music snob because im not.

xmidipunkbastardx (May 21, 2008)

hrm, somehow everything gets compared to my bloody valentine now... when the fuck did that start?

shark-e (May 20, 2008)

Very good review.

Senior (May 20, 2008)

For the value (5 bucks) its a 10. Not bad, just some crap to throw on and savor your 90's indie cred.

wadebrigade (May 19, 2008)

"it is to this extent that some sort of editor, like a record label -- major or minor -- is useful in the creation of art"

this statement, even with the 'minor' label thing mentioned, is so totally inexplicably not punk at all, whatsoever.

like the album or not that one sentence negates yr review. sorry.

Schwartzwelder (May 19, 2008)

Very well written review.

I can't really rate [Ghosts] yet because it takes me a long time to get used to some NIN albums. Year Zero is still growing on me right now...

conduit (May 19, 2008)

This record may be nothing special, but compared to the absolute garbage that both With Teeth (WITH-A TEETH-A!) and Year Zero were, at least he isn't laying down some tired vocals which basically killed both albums for me.

Even The Slip, his new album is worlds better then both, but NIN certainly lost something from the transition of their excellent second disc Still from their live album (And All That Could Have Been was an awesome song) and With Teeth. I just don't really get into those albums much at all.

But either way, this is a good review, and a pretty accurate comparison as far as prince and songs go, haha.

sweetsuperior (May 19, 2008)

great review. true fans should realize that everyone's opinion is different and connect with the record regardless of what some dude on a website posted.

INDW (May 19, 2008)

since when does disagreeing with a review make it a crap review?

I couldn't give a rats as about this album it is a solid review.

wyzo (May 19, 2008)

This is actually one of the better reviews, whether you agree with it or not one very accessible example very nicely and creatively deployed quickly set the frame of why he gave it what he did.

I do think like David Lynch's last movie wankfest, sometimes freedom is meant to be checked by something to give it that bite.

Otherwise, concept albums and extra long albums run amok.

I've only somewhat listened to the slip (as a whole, eh, but some good single tracks), but I think Trent needs to take a pause to release the next album. I appreciate Ghosts, but it won't get much future play.

It's not like if moody ambient pieces is what your after there aren't better records solely built for that type of thing. NIN certainly can hit a tone, but any William Basinski record, a thousand European bands do this type of record much better, and its not what NIN really fulfills as unique to Trent's talents.


steveman (May 18, 2008)

Score is for the review. This is my favorite NIN disc.

wellfedfuck (May 18, 2008)

That was a horrible review. please visit this website for a quality review: http://allmusic.com/cg/amg.dll?p=amg&sql=10:hxfexzwjldde
Also fans should check out the new album (an actual album)

TommyPickles (May 18, 2008)

I can't spell

holy_balls (May 18, 2008)

you can't wear backwards hats and get drunk to this!

sleepwalker (May 18, 2008)

Speaking of Prince...If you haven't heard the remix of "Pussy Control", you haven't lived.

TommyPickles (May 18, 2008)

I am a NIN whore so I like everything they do. I thought this album was amazing. Very moody, very relazing, why it's on punknews I don't know but still a great album.

GhostsxShadow (May 17, 2008)

I like some of these songs but what he said was right, some of the songs aren't long enough to develop into anything substantial. The Fragile to me though is their best work. I like the instrumentals in that and I hear some of it on this newer release. Anyone listen the The Slip yet?

Luke01 (May 16, 2008)

I just registered and I totally thought I was giving a 3/5 score but accidentally gave a 3/10 score.

Luke01 (May 16, 2008)

Score is for the album. 5 for the review.
I do gotta disagree. Ghosts grew on me. I think that it isn't meant to be so much a stand-alone record, but a compliment to different eras in Renzor's resume. It's not a masterpiece, but I liked it more than you did.
Anyway, despite my disagreement, this is one of the best reviews that I've read on punknews in a long time and a hell of a lot less pretentious than the reviews over at Pitchfork.

pokinatchakid (May 16, 2008)

Not his best effort but.. o wait. this isn't an album and shouldnt be treated that way. its like a musical sketchbook. theyre sounds scapes. theyre textures. its like elevator music for the NIN fan. your review is poorly written, being an extensive NIN i can write a much better one. Its not about your score either dude. but your review, you prolly gave it one fucking listen.

dougstalin (May 16, 2008)

I have to disagree - I think Ghosts was a pretty respectable addition to his body of work. I don't think Reznor attempted to put out a solid conventionally accessible cd with this, and you're holding that against him. Of course a 2 hour soundscape isn't going to appeal to the everyday layman, but I wouldn't hold it too much against Trent. It's more like a very interesting collection of b-sides directed toward more of a hardcore NIN audience. Not his best work, but it never tried to be. Just an interesting collection of instrumentals that flirted heavily with The Fragile.

maladroit (May 16, 2008)

i completely disagree, so there you go

jzero666 (May 16, 2008)

I dig this record, it's not like jaw dropping, pants tenting awesome or anything, but it's interesting. I like having it on while I read.

bryne (May 16, 2008)

This score is.

bryne (May 16, 2008)

Score's for Purple Rain.

klashedki (May 16, 2008)

Prince 4 Lyfe.

BrandonSideleau (May 16, 2008)

I disagree.......excellent recording.....some of the best instrumentals nine inch nails have ever released....some of it reminds me of boards of canada...which isn't a bad thing.

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