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'Year Zero': Trent Reznor's Cold World View

ALEX CHADWICK, Host:

Back now with DAY TO DAY and these guys.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CHADWICK: It's Nine Inch Nails. It's the band that put dark, industrial rock on the map and the pop charts, and they're back. In this age of iTunes and the stand-alone song, Nine Inch Nails point-man Trent Reznor has created a kind of an old-school concept album, and it's called "Year Zero."

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

CHADWICK: Here's DAY TO DAY music critic Christian Bordal.

CHRISTIAN BORDAL: Reznor's industrial touches have always helped conjure dark, dystopian landscape in his songs, but until now, that landscape has been mostly internal, dealing with his own haunted demons and desires.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

TRENT REZNOR: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

BORDAL: "Year Zero" is a political album. The landscape it describes is a world 15 years in the future, wracked by widespread violence, environmental devastation and moral and spiritual anarchy.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

REZNOR: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

BORDAL: This elaborate promotion has spawned a minor cottage industry of obsessive fans digging for and sharing over the Internet all the clues, music and videos they're discovering. Cynics are calling it a giant marketing strategy, but Reznor says it's all part of the art, that the CD is like a soundtrack to a movie that hasn't yet been made.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

REZNOR: You have set something in motion much greater than you've have ever known.

BORDAL: But whether or not you want to take the time to investigate the wider, multi- platform promotion surrounding the CD, you'll find that the music itself has a lot to offer.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

REZNOR: (Singing) (Unintelligible).

CHADWICK: The CD is "Year Zero" by Nine Inch Nails. Music Christian Bordal joins us from member station KCRW in Santa Monica, California. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

Christian Bordal
Christian Bordal is a Norwegian-American (via Australia) musician, radio producer, and freelance music journalist who contributes regularly to Day to Day. He's very good at making faces and making a fool of himself, and he once impressed his NPR editors with a drunken recitation of the gibberish poem "Jabberwocky." He briefly considered launching a career performing at children's parties, but he finds his own children to be trouble enough. In addition to this list of remarkable professional accomplishments, he is a producer at member station KCRW in Los Angeles.