The downward spiral away from music with any semblance of song structure continues. The God of Anger Pop, who once created the singularly perfect musical moment that was Pretty Hate Machine, must have reached his seventh day of creation: for he is clearly resting on Ghosts. This is Reznor on a lazy day, bored with nothing better to do.
Ghosts I-IV is an organized chaos of happy (and angry and sad) accidents. I imagine a herd (or pod?) of Macs and samplers, pots and pans; left to their own devices, could produce something akin to Ghosts if they tried real hard. And I suspect Trent made exactly what he intended to make.
I admit that I’m still a pathetic hold-out waiting for Pretty Hate Machine II – The Revenge. Thus, nothing less will ever truly satisfy. Ghosts is neither fixed nor broken. It’s really not that bad, but it’s just not that good. And for a small fistful of dollars, I shouldn’t complain.
I certainly like the progressive and revolutionary distribution (a la Radiohead’s Rainbows) where the evil middle-man record company is kept out of the artist’s and fans’ relationship. I have to give kudos to NIN for fighting the good fight. So at worst, Ghosts I-IV will take up some precious space on your iPod. At best, it’s harmless background noise. NIN Ghosts is a little haunting but definitely not scary.