Nine Inch Nails[remixed]

young trent reznor presents a remix

For nearly as long as there’s been an Internet, fans have been contributing to the nine inch nails experience. There’s something about the music that seems to inspire a devotional following (probably has to do with expressions of angst, contempt and alienation wrapped appealing pop sensibilities). Youthful rebelliousness and antiestablishmentism runs deep through both camps.

Indeed, the rise of nin and the net seems to have coincided perfectly with each other. There were discussions on Usenet about Pretty Hate Machine being one of the best albums of the year in 1989 and the earliest mention of a nine inch nails web site that I could find is dated Nov 1, 1994, shortly after the net was opened to the public.

1994, of course, was the year the The Downward Spiral took the world by storm, reaching #2 on the Billboard Charts and exposing nin to the mainstream. Long story short: Reznor took five years to release another album and while lost in the wilderness, the steadfast fanbase incubated around the Internet. Fansites came and went, trading bootlegs and rumors and tracking the handful of singles and soundtrack songs released in the interim.

By the time 1999’s The Fragile release cycle began, Internet culture had matured quiet a bit. MP3’s and broadband were just starting to be mentioned in mainstream, but the leading-edge nails fans had already adopted them. I downloaded my first fan remixes sometime in the 99-00 winter and some of them were really good (like The Day The World Went Away (peppy by ignorantLOSER). download it). On the official front, Trent made several remixes and exclusive tracks available at the nine inch nails website. There was even a remix contest held for the song The Big Come Down (the winner can be found here).

Fast forward another five years. The Internet and computer technology had advanced quite a bit further. The album With Teeth was released in the spring of 2005 and a month later, Trent posted the source files to the first single The Hand That Feeds to his website in Apple’s Garageband format, officially sanctioning home-brewed remixes of the song. Websites sprang up immediately to catalog and share the fan-created materials.

Which brings me to today. One of the predominant trends on the Internet is, to be sure, social networking and inter-site integration (some call it “web 2.0”). What happens when you mix web 2.0 with the nine inch nails online ethos?


Taking the home remix concept a step further, Trent Reznor has put together a site where anyone can sign up, listen to, vote on, make comments about and download nine inch nails remixes, both official (as in previously-released on CD) and fan made. It’s freakin huge. The more industrious fans can download master tracks and make their own remixes for community evaluation and sharing.

The site combines the nine inch nails community and do-it-yourself artistry with a heavy dose of modern social media technology. The entire site is built in Flash and follows the graphic spirit typical of a nine inch nails presentation. Music can be selected from a playlist showing the latest top rated songs or you can search or browse for a particular piece. When browsing, you can create your own custom playlists. I started to put together a complete instrumental version of Year Zero before I realized that Trent had already done it for me. Other available playlists include Top Rated Fan Mixes, Most Commented, Newest, and Most Listened to, among others. attributes

Once a song is selected, it begins playing in the browser and the song’s curriculum vitae is displayed along with it. If you enjoy what you hear, there’s a “download mp3” button next to the rating number. Users can also assign attributes to songs based on various continua such mellow vs aggressive or dense vs sparse.

Playlists as well as individual remixes can be shared. Playlists via RSS feed so you can publish your favorite tracks or keep tails on a favorite remixer. Individual songs can be shared via URL. Here is a decent remix of The Beginning of the End. The only thing that’s missing is embedable player, a la YouTube, for putting the mixes on your own site.

There is one thing I can’t help but grumble about (but good-naturedly): all those rare and unreleased songs for the downloadin’. Being the nails fan that I am, I’ve spent more a decade keeping up with all the loose-ended ephemera of the catalog. Imports, promos, versions, bootlegs and anything else rare and obscure. After all the work and effort, to my (light-hearted) chagrin, I come to find that a lot of it is now free for the taking. It took me six and a half years to find a copy of the Aphrodite remix of The Perfect Drug, but you can have it just by clicking on this link.

But hey, the fact that it’s available at all is pretty freakin cool.

In Rainbows Diskbox shipped

in Diskbox


No announcement on dead air space or And no rumblings on the net save for this report about one fan receiving it early. But today, Saturday Dec 1, is the last day for Radiohead to make good on its promise to ship the Diskbox version of In Rainbows “before 3rd December 2007.”

So it begs the question: Are the packages in the mail? Will legions of fans worldwide receive early holiday presents in the coming week?

Only time will tell. Let the anticipation build!


radiohead volcano estate
Volcano Estate, an image from the In Rainbows Diskbox.

Update 12/6. The answer of course is yes, Radiohead did begin fulfilling the Diskbox orders as they said they would.

Now the ordeal is over, I’ve taken a step back and have been thinking about the whole In Rainbows experience. While the band is to be commended for its work at changing the contemporary music model, something about the method of release has left me divided. Maybe I’m just coming down from two months of Radiohead excitement, but now that’s I’ve heard the album in its entirety, I’m somewhat disappointed. To be sure, the record is good with its stretches of characteristic brilliance, even if the mood is dour and unwelcoming. It’s funny, for a product titled “In Rainbows” the principal color I associate with it is grey. For some reason though, I’m having a hard time “connecting” with it.

I also can’t seem to find any artistic reason for splitting the release into two CDs. Its total running time is 79:30, just shy of a single CD’s limit. Disc two isn’t especially different than Disc one. In fact, if you listen in iTunes, the transition from Videotape to Mk 1 is virtually seamless. It just stikes me as a bit exploitive I guess. Maybe when the “real” CD is released, all the songs will be on a single disc for those who don’t need the extravagance of the Diskbox. is still taking orders for the Diskbox (made to order), but you only have until December 10 to grab the pay-what-you-want mp3s of the first disc.