The leader of Nine Inch Nails, Trent Reznor, announced this week the release of a new NIN album, and it’s available entirely for free. He did so with a simple statement: “Thank you for your continued and loyal support over the years — this one’s on me.” The album, titled The Slip, contains 10 tracks, much of it in the mode of industrial-rock, a former niche genre that NIN helped push up the Billboard charts. The Slip follows quickly on Ghosts I-IV, a 36-track collection of instrumentals released by NIN back in March (disquiet.com, ghosts.nin.com). Though the majority of the tracks on The Slip are proper songs with vocals, three are heavily electronic instrumentals that continue the ambient effort that Ghosts I-IV initiated. The full set is available (as MP3s and in other formats) at theslip.nin.com (there are no direct links to individual tracks).
Before diving into a song that’s oddly reminiscent of the Kinks, The Slip opens on “999,999,” a minute and a half of tapered incidental noises and swelling electric pulses. Toward the end of the album, there’s a one-two lull in the form of “Corona Radiata” and “The Four of Us Are Dying.” Neither is an interlude. “Corona” is the album’s longest cut, at seven and a half minutes, and as the title suggest, it plays like the score to a documentary about the collapse of star systems. “Dying” is a low-key slocore pop instrumental, with guitars that sound like someone’s humming the melody absentmindedly, amid heavily echoed background tones and a sublimated guitar crunch.
And, as they say on infomercials, that’s not all. The entirety of The Slip has been made available for open-source, multi-track remixing at remix.nin.com, where musicians are invited to download the constituent parts of songs (encoded as individual WAV files) and to upload their mixes. This means, among other things, that you can download the songs on The Slip, remove Reznor’s serviceable but utilitarian vocals, and just listen to the instrumental versions — and, furthermore, you can reduce or excise the occasionally heavy rhythms and enjoy the album’s atmospheric touches.