It has been a trying few months, with the COVID-19 crisis escalating to a point of near-worldwide self-quarantine. With a palpable unease and uncertainty in the air, throughout the political sphere, and deeply ingrained in social media, it’s music that binds us together and heals all. With that mind, it seems that Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, the core working duo of Nine Inch Nails, have come to the same conclusion and released two instrumental records in the Ghosts series, both released for free this morning via nin.com.

Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts  dropped quietly via an announcement through the band’s social media, driving listeners to the website to download both albums in mp3 format. Youtube playlists of the entire release were slowly launched overnight, and according to the message on Reznor’s site, the albums will be hitting streaming services this evening. Reznor  and Ross offer a very fitting message to explain the albums’ synthesis and release:

FRIENDS-

WEIRD TIMES INDEED…

AS THE NEWS SEEMS TO TURN EVER MORE GRIM BY THE HOUR, WE’VE FOUND OURSELVES VACILLATING WILDLY BETWEEN FEELING LIKE THERE MAY BE HOPE AT TIMES TO UTTER DESPAIR – OFTEN CHANGING MINUTE TO MINUTE. ALTHOUGH EACH OF US DEFINE OURSELVES AS ANTISOCIAL-TYPES WHO PREFER BEING ON OUR OWN, THIS SITUATION HAS REALLY MADE US APPRECIATE THE POWER AND NEED FOR CONNECTION.

MUSIC – WHETHER LISTENING TO IT, THINKING ABOUT IT OR CREATING IT – HAS ALWAYS BEEN THE THING THAT HELPED US GET THROUGH ANYTHING – GOOD OR BAD. WITH THAT IN MIND, WE DECIDED TO BURN THE MIDNIGHT OIL AND COMPLETE THESE NEW GHOSTS RECORDS AS A MEANS OF STAYING SOMEWHAT SANE.

GHOSTS V: TOGETHER IS FOR WHEN THINGS SEEM LIKE IT MIGHT ALL BE OKAY, AND GHOSTS VI: LOCUSTS… WELL, YOU’LL FIGURE IT OUT.

IT MADE US FEEL BETTER TO MAKE THESE AND IT FEELS GOOD TO SHARE THEM. MUSIC HAS ALWAYS HAD A WAY OF MAKING US FEEL A LITTLE LESS ALONE IN THE WORLD… AND HOPEFULLY IT DOES FOR YOU, TOO. REMEMBER, EVERYONE IS IN THIS THING TOGETHER AND THIS TOO SHALL PASS.

WE LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU AGAIN SOON.
BE SMART AND SAFE AND TAKE CARE OF EACH OTHER.

WITH LOVE,
TRENT & ATTICUS

Like the previous installments in the Ghosts series, the albums are fully instrumental and showcase the mood and texture that Reznor has been carving out since walking on the scene with 1989’s Pretty Hate Machine. While it’s usually Reznor’s immaculate production, industrial/synth-pop hooks, and naked aggression that are often cited and celebrated, the kinder, more textured side of Nine Inch Nails is often the most rewarding, with explorations in the ambient genre dating back to 1994’s “A Warm Place” from The Downward Spiral. 2002’s Still dove heavily into ambient waters, followed by both 2008’s Ghosts I-IV and 2010’s The Social Network score, which was released outside of the Nine Inch Nails moniker and kicked off Reznor and Ross’ fruitful and prolific soundtrack career.

As explained above, Ghosts V: Together is a more hopeful affair, beautifully composed, with synth textures approaching almost ethereal levels. It’s the most immediate of the two records, a beautiful listen through and through. On the flip side, Ghosts VI: Locusts is more dissonant, noisier, chaotic, trading in beauty for unease, balancing the light with the dark, a suitable soundtrack for those times when things seem a bit too difficult to fathom.

Waking up to news of a new Nine Inch Nails album is always a surprise, though certainly not out of the realm of possibility, given Reznor’s knack for dropping new records and tracks for free, and with little-to-no buildup. Ghosts I-IV approached a similar model, with the first record in the series being made available for free upon release. While physical copies of the latest installments may not arrive for some time as the world continues to adapt and shift focus, the music is out there to enjoy. Check below for the full artwork and track listing:

Ghosts V: Together
1. Letting Go While Holding On
2. Together
3. Out in the Open
4. With Faith
5. Apart
6. Your Touch
7. Hope We Can Again
8. Still Right Here

Ghosts VI: Locusts
1. The Cursed Clock
2. Around Every Corner
3. The Worriment Waltz
4. Run Like Hell
5. When It Happens (Don’t Mind Me)
6. Another Crashed Car
7. Temp Fix
8. Trust Fades
9. A Really Bad Night
10. Your New Normal
11. Just Breathe
12. Right Behind You
13. Turn This Off Please
14. So Tired
15. Almost Dawn

Download both for free via nin.com
listen on YouTube

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