Trent Reznor delivered on the promise he set forth earlier in the year that there would be new Nine Inch Nails by the end of 2016. That promise culminated in a 5 song EP entitled Not the Actual Events. The prolific Reznor has been extremely busy since he came back with NIN in 2005, but has not veered to far from the original sound that he has been known for, a driving, uncomfortable crunch that has become unmistakably his. His output with Atticus Ross has garnered him all kinds of awards, including an Oscar for the soundtrack to The Social Network. In some respects he has turned a career that shunned the idea of rock stardom and the music “business”, into the ideal music businessman, with his partnering with Apple Music, and his tight cultivation of NIN. However, take out the soundtrack, and take off the businessmans hat, and you have pure vintage, Reznor – NIN, which is where you will find Not the Actual Events.
The 5 song E.P. sees Reznor charging back with something of a pseudo- Downward Spiral sound, but augmented with the addition of Ross as a full time member. Album opener “Branches/Bones” is a frenetic noise machine with a landscaped beauty underneath. Along with Ross, Reznor brought Dave Grohl on board to provide heart pounding drum badassery on the blistering “The Idea of You” which could have been appeared somewhere on Broken. “She’s Gone Away” features Reznor’s wife, and How To Destroy Angels lead vocalist, Mariqueen Maandig on backing vocals, with the song verging on something for the next David Lynch project. “Dear World” offers skittish beats, and an aura of dystopia circa Year Zero. Jane’s Addictions alum Dave Navarro appears on the prodding “Burning Bright (Field on Fire)”.
This incarnation of Nine Inch Nails, with sound not entirely original but enough change and movement to remain interesting, ever so subtly pushes the band in a new direction. Like gravity nudging an asteroid on a new path, Atticus Ross’s presence can be felt with slight changes in tone, and backing ambience. Not the Actual Events is a good listen and hopefully Reznor, Ross, and NIN keep moving in this direction.