In a year of bad surprises, Trent Reznor
decided to give us a good one before 2016 drew to a close. With barely a week’s notice in late December, he announced the release of a new Nine Inch Nails
EP, titled Not the Actual Events
. Also Reznor’s longtime musical collaborator Atticus Ross
(the two just scored the new film Patriots Day
) is now listed as an official member of NIN for the release. The five-song collection feels like a recap of the sounds and styles of NIN throughout Reznor’s career while never sounding like a true rehash.
Opener “Branches_Bones” revs ahead, comes to a start and kicks its engines back up again, all in under two minutes. Reznor appears to be thinking about aging as he roars “Parts of me are slowing down, time is speeding up” but in the chorus says, “Feels like I’ve been here before … and I don’t care anymore.”
“Dear World,” features creepy spoken vocals and is closest to the vibe of 2013’s Hesitation Marks
with its tumbling percussion and ‘80s electro sounds. Reznor’s wife, singer Mariqueen Mandig
, contributes to the stomping (but slightly plodding) “She’s Not Gone.”
The great Dave Grohl
’s drumming propels the most classic NIN-sounding track here, “The Idea of You.” Renzor moves from near-whispered verses to a chorus that almost gets into “March of the Pigs” territory, with a sentiment that’s easy to identify with nowdays: “None of this is happening!” Not the Actual Events
closes out with the expansive, stomping “Burning Bright (Field on Fire).” With an assist from Dave Navarro
, this ominous song sounds like the soundtrack to a march through an apocalyptic wasteland.
Not the Actual Event
s doesn’t break any new ground in Reznor’s career and you’d never call a NIN release “comforting” because of its familiar sound. Still, it’s good to know Trent is still committed to NIN as his stature in the film world continues to grow, and he has promised more new surprises in 2017. Let’s hope it’s the good kind once again.