Thursday, June 9, 2011

Halo Collection Part 1

This will begin a series of posts about the Halo Collection. No, I am not talking about Master Chief, as power armor is for pussies, as Duke Nukem points out above. I am talking about the discography of Nine Inch Nails. The entire discography. All singles, everything. There are 27 Halo'd releases. They span over the 20 years that Trent Reznor was releasing music as Nine Inch Nails. Over the next few weeks I will review the entire collection.

Of course, We begin with Halo 01, Down In It. This represents the first release by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails. The US release has three mixes of the first single of Pretty Hate Machine which is obviously Down In It. The UK version has 6 mixes. I own the US CD release and the US Vinyl release. The vinyl isn't really pressed on any audiophile quality material, it is a simple 130g pressed vinyl, but due to the short nature of the release, the sound fidelity is quite amazing. I think its due to being pressed on a 12" record. The vinyl is semi-translucent and contains 2 mixes on side A and 1 mix on side B. The standard album release is of course included, and the two mixes are the Shred mix and the Singe mix, respectively. The shred mix is a more subdued mix of Down In It, a lot of the electronic elements seem to be shredded from the song (lol). It's total time is also double that of the original. After the lyrics end, the song is shredded into an industrial mix for the last half of the song. Overall a really awesome remix. The Singe mix starts with drums and electronical elements only, as the rest of the song slowly is built on top of that. Rather than be focused on the lyrics, this mix is more of a soundscape composed from the various elements of the original song. In a lot of ways it is more remeniscent of Trent's more recent work, such as Ghosts. I look at it as a representation of what Ghosts I-IV would have been like had it been written in 1989. Overall, a great introduction to Nine Inch Nails and a great starting point for a Halo collection.

Pretty Hate Machine is the first full length release by Nine Inch Nails. Being the second release, it has been released as Halo 02, and more recently 02R for the remastered version released in 2010. As an entire album, it is closer to With Teeth then The Downward Spiral or The Fragile. Specifically, it is a completely song-oriented release. I have heard it described as more easily accessible. You can pick any song out of the CD and enjoy it, there really isn't any over-arching story in the album. The original mixes for this CD were recorded by Trent Reznor when he worked at Right Track Studios. He played all of the instruments himself and recorded a demo CD which he called Purest Feeling. The demo was shopped around and Reznor was signed to TVT Records. Pretty Hate Machine could be considered the polishing of Purest Feeling. The album is classified as industrial, and retains some synth elements from Purest Feeling, though very little. The electronic/industrial songs age really well, and many are still a staple of live performances. Something I Can Never Have may be my favorite song by Nine Inch Nails. This is the beginning of Nine Inch Nails as it evolved and as fame and pressure shaped the man behind it. The overarching theme could be said to be sex, and with the fame that ensued after Trent began touring, this album was catapulted into the mainstream like few indie releases before it.

Stay tuned for more posts in the coming weeks!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

My Vinyls

Was taking pictures of my new The Downward Spiral vinyl and figured I would put some pictures of all my other NIN vinyls up.

Monday, June 6, 2011

iCloud, The Downward Spiral Vinyl, and 3DShop

WWDC and E3 officially kicked off today. First of the festivites included a Stevenote at WWDC about iOS 5, Lion, and iCloud, and Microsoft's keynote which brought "incredible" announcements like Halo 4 (which apparently will spawn another trilogy, joy) Halo HD for its 10th anniversary, and a slew of announcements about updates to xbox live, including getting YouTube (yay?). Apple announced that Lion will be 30 bucks, will only be available in the Mac App Store, and will not require a reboot. iOS 5 is getting a bunch of new features that just rip off android, although to their credit the features do appear to have more polish, and will be released in fall which pretty much confirms the fall release rumor of the iPhone 4S, or 5, or whatever they decide to ultimately call it.

A lot of buzz has been around this elusive iCloud that apple has been building data centers for. Stevey gave us some insight into the service today, as expected it will allow you to upload your music "into the cloud" so that any device can pull it back down. Honestly I'm not huge on cloud storage, I would rather have a media server running on my PC and just connect to that, but it does bring some nice features as well. Any song you have purchased can be downloaded again, and if you have ever purchased a song on iTunes and later needed to re-download it, you were up shit crick, so that's a nice change. Other features of iCloud are pretty intriguing too, I can definitely see the awesomeness in automatically syncing documents, and photos, and things like that. Ultimately none of it really matters now that I have made the switch to Android, but I can appreciate what they are doing.

Received The Downward Spiral on 180g Vinyl in the mail today. Really excited to hang the best album of all time on my wall, and the frame I chose for it will allow further enjoyment of the record as it opens up. Picked it up used for less than 10 bucks on amazon and the condition is amazing.

Finally, my 3DS is going to get some use after a month of no use, Nintendo is finally launching their 3DS store thing, I think they are calling it the 3DShop. I'm hoping for 3DS demos, virtual console games in 3D, and 3D video and other content. They will be giving a 3D enhanced copy of Excitebike to everyone in the shop for a limited time, so that will hopefully be pretty sweet. Too bad they couldn't give me a better game like LoZ, but they will definitely be saving that for a cash cow.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Small Update/Rant, a Message to Trent

In some ways, Trent is giving us more music now than ever before. As much as I miss Nine Inch Nails, I can take this extended break. Trent is still putting out music, and he seems to be unstoppable. The Social Network soundtrack and the How to Destroy Angels EP last year, The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo soundtrack and full-length How to Destroy Angels cd this year, next year I bet we see Halo 28, if not this year. Never stop creating art Trent. Whether you call yourself Nine Inch Nails, become the background in How to Destroy Angels, or mold our emotions with enchanting scores and masterful collaboration, I know you will never cease to amaze me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011


Front Cover

What makes an artist good? Is it the label they are signed on? The amount of radio play they get? I personally couldn't care less about the radio, most of the songs they play are mediocre garbage and greedy music labels are continuing to ruin music. Skill obviously plays a factor in a good artist, but a combination of poor decisions and poor distribution can kill an artist's work in this increasingly digital age. This post will highlight a music distribution method that I think is genius and focus on a very talented artist who is utilizing this method.

Back Cover
Ever heard of Alessandro Cortini? That's him on the back cover of NON SONOIO. He is a part of Modwheelmood and the sole member of Blindoldfreak and SONOIO. I was first introduced to Alessandro's art while he toured with Trent Reznor's most famous art vehicle Nine Inch Nails. I've heard Nine Inch Nails described as two separate entities, the studio and the live versions. This makes sense as in the studio, Trent creates approximately 90% of the music. That is, he typically plays all the instruments, does all of the songwriting, and provides the vocals and backup with some exceptions (he doesn't play the drums). To tour, rather than have one dude up on stage playing a lot of samples, Trent opts to assemble a live band of the best musicians he can find and melds masterful performing with mind-blowing special effects. In 2005, Alessandro joined the live lineup of NIN. He primarily played the keyboard, and could be said to have brought a distinct sound to Nine Inch Nails. Following the completion of The Lights in the Sky 2008 tour, Alessandro departed from Nine Inch Nails to refocus on other projects, and in 2010 under his one-man project SONOIO released BLUE in limited physical copies with a simultaneous digital release.

If you visit his website you can begin to see the genius in his distribution. SONOIO is not signed. At all. No indie label at all. His primary focus is digital distribution. He has his music on amazon and iTunes, but the real genius comes from his site. BLUE was released in a limited run digipack limited to 1000 copies. When you purchase a copy of BLUE, be it physical or digital, the purchase always includes digital files in your choice of quality, be that MP3, FLAC, WAV, ALAC, etc. This is a very nice touch, and satisfies people like me who love physical copies but also couldn't get by without their hundreds of GBs of digital music. He also allows anyone to download the first 4 tracks completely free, and I believe you can listen to the entire album through his site. Shortly after the release of BLUE, he released a remix album NON SONOIO, or NON BLUE on his website, and allowed anyone to download the entire album free of charge. Each song has it's own artwork, much like Reznor's The Slip. If you so desire, he gives you the option to "upgrade to hi-def" for a few bucks, and that allows you to get lossless copies of the album. He did not release a physical copy of NON SONOIO. 

You may be scratching your head at this point, wondering what I'm talking about. If the pictures have fooled you, I'm proud. Pictured is a custom copy of NON SONOIO that I designed, printed, and assembled, using the artwork embedded in the audio files and the physical release of BLUE for reference. Pictured is copy 2 of 10, the second printing and first revision to my original design. I purchased the FLAC copies on and recorded them to the CD pictured. This copy was given to my good friend Toral Coalt. As you can imagine, I am very proud of how well this came together.

Here's the contents of the booklet, its assembled from the embedded artwork in each song, with a page giving blurbs about each remixer.

Since this release, SONOIO has opened up the pre-orders for his next release RED. If you pre-order the physical release, you'll receive it signed. Pop over to and check out NON SONOIO, since its available completely free, check out the first 4 songs of BLUE, or RED, and see if you like him. The best part of SONOIO's site is most of the money actually goes to Alessandro, so you can feel like you really are supporting this very unique and excellent artist.

If you are seriously interested in one of the other 8 copies, maybe we can work something out.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Sweet News!

As if the postal service somehow heard me, Halo 17 DVD arrived today!

Dinner with Trent

Just finished up dinner with Trent Reznor, was pretty awesome. Thanks to Toral for the photo!