When Not the Actual Events
came out in December of last year, Nine Inch Nails
fans were given a pleasant surprise. The EP was a return to form for Trent Reznor, and the grooves of 2013's Hesitation Marks
were tossed aside for a sound that harkened back to classic NIN albums like The Downward Spiral
and The Fragile
. In other words, it was exactly what diehard NIN fans would want: music that is almost impenetrable at times, but still equally engrossing and exciting. The opening track, "Branches / Bones," propels itself along recklessly, and eventually devolves into an indiscernible cloud of distorted screams. "Dear World" sounds like a leftover composition that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross wrote for yet another David Fincher collaboration, but repurposed with Reznor's monotone, schizophrenic rambling. "The Idea of You" is a dark, monstrous track featuring Dave Grohl's typically intense drumming. "Burning Bright (Field on Fire)" is an epic slow-burner that utilizes some of the most creative guitar work in Nine Inch Nails' entire discography (not in small part due to former Jane's Addiction guitarist Dave Navarro).
And then there's "She's Gone Away," which sounds… well, like it belongs in a David Lynch production:
In short, Not the Actual Events
is fantastic, but what's even more exciting than the actual music is the fact that it's only a taste of what's to come. Last month, Reznor revealed in an email sent out to fans
that the EP is the first part of a trilogy, with each release coming 6-8 months apart. So, naturally, this means that fans have been waiting patiently for the imminent release of part two, given that Reznor's deadline is almost here.
We're witnessing a monumental achievement taking shape with the way Nine Inch Nails is going about releasing new material. What is happening with NIN right now is essentially a year-long process that all but forces fans to stay engaged. Artists like Beyonce have surprised fans, in the past, by releasing an entire album without any promotion behind it, but ultimately, the excitement around these occasions is short-lived. However, with these new NIN EPs, the excitement lasts all year. Rather than surprise fans with the sudden release of an album that is fifteen songs long, which they would have already listened to extensively by now, Reznor has split the new music up into three EPs that will be released… well, who really knows when? All we know about the release dates is that vague, 6-8 month time frame. The excitement is in not knowing, in the mystery of it all. Honestly, it's likely that Reznor himself doesn't even know when exactly the EPs will come out. And, when a new EP is coming up, we're given so little information about it that we can still enjoy the feeling of surprise when it does, eventually, arrive.
For example, here's how Reznor announced today that the second EP was coming out next week:
Yup, that's it. Just "NEXT WEEK." No title, no specific release date, no nothing. Hell, we don't even know for sure that it'll be an EP!
This is what's so great about this release process: fans get a new EP to enjoy, and avidly wait for any clues about the next one over a long stretch of time. And, when they do get a hint about what's coming, like Reznor's tweet, it provides so little information that fans are still excited about the potential of what it could be. In these overstimulated times, it's great to see an artist interacting with their fan base in a way that encourages them to be intrigued about new music throughout an entire year, rather than for a few short weeks at the most.