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Monday, April 09, 2007

Counting down to Year Zero

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Pleasant surprises sometimes come from the most unexpected sources. And the nice little surprise for today came courtesy of Technorati. And after a little digging around the 'Net...

Image hosting by PhotobucketNIИ: Year Zero
(Malaysian release date unknown, but hopefully soon)

Yes, boys and girls, Nine Inch Nails will soon be releasing their 6th studio album, entitled Year Zero. Apparently the first single from the album, "Survivalism" has been getting airplay on MTV. Walski, however, doesn't tune it to MTV - not on Astro anyway. Already, MTV-Asia is quite pop-heavy, catering to the fans of more syruppy-sweet pop trash. Couple that the filtering our censor-happy folks at Astro apply, and there's nothing much left that's appealing to a eclectic music-head like Walski.

But we digress...

What struck Walski most about this news, apart from being excited about a new Nine Inch Nails album, was the way that the album has been marketed. In true viral fashion. In February of this year, USB sticks containing tracks from the album and dystopian images began appearing in washroom stalls at venues where the band is touring (Wikepedia reports findings in Lisbon, Madid, Barcelona, and Manchester).

In a recent article in The Guardian, Trent Reznor (the force behind Nine Inch Nails) explains:

"The USB drive was simply a mechanism of leaking the music and data we wanted out there," he explained. "The medium of the CD is outdated and irrelevant. It's really painfully obvious what people want - DRM-free music they can do what they want with. If the greedy record industry would embrace that concept I truly think people would pay for music and consume more of it."

Novel would be an understatement of how Year Zero has been marketed. Think of it as a long, elaborate, cookie trail of clues and cryptically hidden website URLs hidden in the most unlikely of places.

Among them, at the back of a concert t-shirt.
(more Year Zero, and listening to it FREE, in the full post)

It started with a NIИ concert t-shirt, on which certain letters were bolded. Put together, the letters formed a website URL (minus the trailing .com), iamtryingtobelieve. This then led to another website,, which has a brilliantly hidden picture underneath the color pix on the front page (click-n-hold your mouse and "rub-off" the color pix). Clicking on it brings up a "forum" page, which then...

Tell you what, why don't you read this Rolling Stone article, and follow the cookie crumbs for yourself... All in all a very elaborate, and BRILLIANT web-based marketing campaign, if Walski ever saw one.

Year Zero, according to Reznor is a "concept album" (source), and to Walski is a dystopian view of the future, reflective of the general despair being felt in the US populace, and the growing dissatisfaction and anger towards the nation's administration under Baby Bush. A clue to this can be heard in one of the tracks, "Capital G".

Oh, Walski's just realized he's gotten ahead of himself. Heard the track? Indeed. The entire album, in fact, is available for online listening! Go to the official Year Zero website, click on the "listen to year zero" link, and knock yourself out. Registration is required, however, but all it involves is leaving an e-mail address. Easy. You're there in seconds (Streamyx permitting)...

Musically, think of it as biting drum-n-bass, sometimes dreamy, but with sudden bursts of energetic anger that screams out of the speakers and bites you when you least expect it. It is nowhere as MOR as With Teeth was, incidentally. But a lot more minimalist than other NIИ releases. One of the tracks (My Violent Heart) opens with a narative rap - a la William S. Burroughs, but less raspy - and follows the characteristic Reznor style of dissonance and quirky use of odd time signatures. And it rocks. As does the album, in toto.

Making the entire album for pre-release listening is very much in line with Trent Reznor's view of how archaic the music industry is today, being monopolized by the grubby hands of the business side of music. And it probably will deter piracy, as well. Fans of NIИ, like yours truly, will have no qualms forking out some moolah to get a copy once it's been released.

The album has 16 tracks in total, and Walski's advice for Malaysian fans is to get it as soon as the first-pressing release is out. The authorities have been known to censor music in this country, and if you don't wish to have a yours with bleeped out portions (like watching Astro), get it ASAP.

The worldwide release is slated for release in Europe on April 16, 2007, a day later in the United States, and on April 25, 2007 in Japan. It is not immediately know what the release date will be for Malaysia, but it's likely to be sometime after the Japan release (and if anyone knows, please do the needful).

Year Zero, the concept album, is part of something bigger that Trent Reznor apparently has planned. Among other things, expect a film surrounding the bleak future world of Year Zero. You can find out more at the Year Zero Research page, which is part of the NIИ wiki site. One thing that Walski will mention is that Year Zero refers to 2022 AD, also known as 0000 BA (Born Again). Making this year -15 BA.

Walski for one, cannot wait till the album is released in Malaysia (hopefully intact). Meanwhile, he will be listening to it online. To close out this post, Walski hereby presents what he also found today on YouTube - the Survivalism video mentioned earlier. Enjoy!

Walski's pondersome post-video footnote: By the way, if you think the track is too Middle-Of-the-Road (MOR), the full album is a lot better. It's the subtext to the video that's the key. You know, it's as if Trent knew exactly what to get Walski for his birthday...