Trent Reznor, you spoil us. Only two months since his last bout of goth generosity, the Dark Lord is treating us to a second free LP downloadable from Nine Inch Nails’ website. Unlike the instrumental ‘Ghosts I-IV’ released in March, where only the first eight tracks were free, Reznor is giving away the whole of ‘The Slip’ gratis, relying on an eventual physical release to generate the lucre. Not only that, but ‘The Slip’ operates under a Creative Commons “share-alike” licence, which, if you’ve never edited a Wikipedia page, means fans can splice and dice its contents without fear of a lawsuit. Whatever you might think of Reznor and his work, you can’t fault his ambition or synergistic vision; no other artist alive pays so much attention to the vagaries and zephyrs of technology as he does.
The album itself follows the thread started on 2005’s ‘With Teeth’, which is to say Reznor’s again favouring songs over soundscapes. The chaotic drums and bass of ‘Letting You’ is the best song Atari Teenage Riot never wrote while ‘Lights In The Sky’ echoes the funereal tones of ‘Hurt’, all knuckled piano and barely-contained rage. ‘Corona Radiata’ and ‘The Four Of Us Are Dying’ are the only traces of Ghosts I-IV’, two sparse arrangements that feel rather flat after the overall bombast of the album. They give the impression ‘The Slip’ is a collection of work mostly imitative of Reznor’s previous exercises. But, given his diverse career and his admission that ‘The Slip’ is fan service taken to the hilt, you just can’t fault it.