While a double album containing 36 instrumental vignettes from Trent Reznor may appear to be the very definition of self-indulgence, listeners should know by now that Reznor doesn't do anything half-assed. That he focused on this material over a ten-week period late last year further suggests that Ghosts I-IV is no mere odds and sods collection. Nor is it simply a case of an artist overshooting his mark, thinking that fans will want every little last bit of sound they've ever put down on tape. (Even though, in Reznor's case, they clearly would!) Reznor envisioned this material as a marriage of soundscapes with visuals, specifically a "soundtrack for daydreams." Which means, as expected, there are plenty of exquisitely nightmarish moments. Interestingly enough, though, as much as this looks like Reznor's push into ambient Brian Eno territory, much of the material touches closely on things he's already done. The track titled "(17)" partially revisits a compelling motif Reznor introduced way back in '92 on the Broken EP song "Help Me I Am in Hell." A lot of the music retains the loping rhythms and soft-focus menace of The Fragile, a surprise considering the new ground NIN broke on its last album. Still, the bottom line is that Reznor would never offer us throwaways. Ghosts I-IV stands as an artist making a bold statement about what he wants to do while offering fans plenty to sink their teeth into.
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