Giving it a second listen here now:
- At 43 minutes this is the shortest album Trent R. has released since Pretty Hate Machine, and while arguably you can look at Ghosts I-IV as being a complement to it all that could have easily swollen the size of it, taking a more compact route all around with this one seems just right.
- Initial impressions among many friends ranked it as Trent by numbers to a large extent and I can’t disagree — without the selling point of Ghosts as a fully instrumental collection, this feels like a combination extension and reworking of recent obsessions on the rhythm front, as the lead ‘singles’ “Discipline” and “Echoplex” (and I can’t get over the name of that one, knowing how much my old roommate/housemate Jake loved his — and a more un-Trent-like person I could not name) showed already. This is so far enjoyable rather than striking, and in terms of compressed pop punch nothing still beats “The Hand That Feeds” for me when it comes to the last three years, though I suspect everything on here will be more of a grower with time.
- It is, however, extremely poppy in the best possible way — elsewhere today friend Anthony talked about how he might have figured Trent would have in fact gone ahead and just ‘dropped the boogie’ once he was off a major label, but as I said in response, there’s some part of him that will always want to be Prince. I think this is exactly what he needed and showed from the start, to excellent effect, and his devotion to astringent funk — again, “Echoplex” provides a prime example — pays off in spades. There are a couple of quiet and ambient moments as per usual — indeed, it’s interesting that all the instrumentals didn’t just end up on Ghosts, and “Corona Radiata” is an entrancing take on that style, while “Lights in the Sky” lets him indulge in his piano jones once again, nearly two decades removed from “Something I Can Never Have” but still tackling that sorrowful bent.
- The whole thing, as I muttered earlier today, is yet another astounding PR move on the part of Reznor and his team — and there’s no doubt that having learned their lessons well they got in the server space to handle everything properly, links and downloads worked like a charm for folks and I got my Apple Lossless torrent downloaded within a couple of hours on my DSL line.
- Finally, I’m still wondering what exactly the full impact of these experiments will turn out to be. Earlier today something occurred to me that hadn’t fully before — most of the various comments on the ‘free’ experiments and downloads and alternate arrangements address the question of how new bands and acts might make money in this environment, but I’ve now been wondering what if anything the current high profile pop acts would exactly do in the face of all this. The method of sale for Ghosts demonstrated one way forward; this even more consumer friendly approach is another and fully transforms the idea of album-as-promotional-tool for the current time and place.
More detailed thoughts at another time, perhaps.