Nine Inch Nails Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts Review
Trent Reznor has spent the better part of his career exorcising demons in a loud, mud-soaked manner but there have always been many layers to Nine Inch Nails’ music that help to paint a more comprehensive picture of Trent and his art. For instance, one of the Downward Spiral’s most intriguing moments comes when he pours out his soul on a microphone as lo-fi hiss gives way to a wall-of-sound that would make Phil Spector blush on the standout “Hurt”. Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts pick up the Ghost series mantle where 2008’s Ghosts I-IV left off. That album introduced the world to yet another dimension of Renznor’s abilities when he traded in his role as lead singer for that of creator of meticulously crafted ambient music that had more in common with Brian Eno’s affinity for composing interesting background sounds than the industrial-goth breed of anti-heroism that Nine Inch Nails cashed in on in the nineties. Ghosts I-IV let Reznor focus more on the production side of electronic-based music but still provided an outlet to express his typically melancholic emotions. Like Ghosts I-IV, Ghosts V: Together and Ghosts VI: Locusts are instrumental albums that rely heavily on Reznor and longtime collaborator Atticus Ross’ electronic production prowess, which has evolved over the years with several high-profile soundtrack credits under their belt.
Since there are no lyrics on either of the albums, I will keep this review short and sweet.
Ghosts V: Together is the less creepy of the two albums. It focuses on detailed arrangements that conjure a calm-before-the-storm. Breathy synth passages and notes that sustain for days are given plenty of room and without a human voice, the music does plenty of talking. Opening track “Letting Go Without Holding On” has a slow but purposeful synthesizer line that rings into the ether. By the time the final track “Still Right Here” comes along, (especially at the 4:30 mark) electronic beats and heavier tones get thrown into the mix, foreshadowing the more sinister Ghosts VI: Locusts. Where Ghosts V: Together relied on electronic instruments to help provide space and create a sense of calm, Ghosts VI: Locusts arrives just in time to wake you up from the dream to show you a nightmarish reality. This album could easily be the soundtrack to your deepest held anxieties and fears. With instrumentation and performances designed to mimic paranoia, Ghosts VI: Locusts is not an easy listen by any means but it is the perfect juxtaposition to Ghosts V: Together and a significant release due to the moment in which we live. Mass hysteria and anxiety are part of the norm these days and songs like “Run Like Hell”, where Reznor and Ross blend late-night jazz horns, a relentless beat, and white noise, are not only musically interesting but relevant considering the circumstances. If you’re looking for some relaxing music to fall asleep to, stick to Ghosts V: Together. If you’re looking for music that lets you know Trent Reznor is going just as crazy as you are right now then try Ghosts VI: Locusts.
Ghosts V: Together- 7.3
Ghosts VI: Locusts- 7.8