Weird News Stories

Leaked New Nine Inch Nails: Viral Marketing?

posted by Chris Valentine

By now you’ve probably heard that a flash drive was found in a bathroom in Lisbon, Portugal, with a new Nine Inch Nails track, My Violent Heart on it. The track is a leak of sorts from the upcoming Nine Inch Nails album Year Zero, described oddly by various sources as an album cobbled together from various websites of the future, and due for release in April, 2007.

If you haven’t heard the song yet, here’s a couple links that were working when I posted this:

Link 1 [dead]
Link 2 [dead]
(See YouTube Embed of the Song at the end of this post)

Accident? Or great example of viral marketing? The track has made several laps around the internet already today, and forums are wild with speculation as to why and how it got placed in the lav. The forums on make a comparison to Aphex Twin’s Windowlicker where Richard D. James hid imagery in the spectra:

At the end of the track there is a huge bit of static that doesn’t really sound like static; it has a pattern. If you decompress the song and load it into a program capable of viewing spectral information, you’ll see this:


I don’t think this is a “leak” but the track was released on purpose.

My reasoning: Aphex Twin did something similar (hell, exactly the same) with the spectra on the Windowlicker album. If you loaded up the retail cd and loaded up the right track to be analyzed you would see his face. It didn’t work for mp3 because the compression killed the effect. If this was just a half-assed leak we wouldn’t be able to see The Presence. Trent & Co did this on purpose. It’s the only explanation.

If you’re having trouble, it’s supposed to be a hand/arm. The hand and arm have shown up several times in Trent Reznor’s lyrics, most recently in “The Hand That Feeds,” but also notably earlier in the lyrics to “The Wretched”: and God himself will reach his f*cking arm through/just to push you down.


What’s a spectral analyzer, you ask?

The spectral-analyzer is a graph that looks at all of the frequencies that the sound sample (in this case, the song) and colors the frequencies that are currently being output (those that can be heard). For instance, if a sine wave was oscillating at 700Hz for say 6 seconds, there would be one thin horizontal line at the x value of 700. The x axis is frequency (low to the left and higher to the right) and the y axis is time (soonest at the bottom, earliest at the top).

Lyrics to the leaked track, also courtesy

you and i only look the same
but we are very far apart
these bullet holes will mark where the passion used to be
and there is violence in my heart
in to fire you can send us
from the fire we return
you can label us a consequence
of how much you have to learn
you can try, but you’ll never understand
this is something you will never understand
can you hear it now?
hear it coming now?
can you hear it now?

on hands and knees we crawl
you cannot stop us all
our bones, our skin
we will not let you win

you have set something in motion
much greater than you have ever known
standing there in your great naivety
about to reap what you have sown
i will feed upon your weaknesses
soon you’ll lose the world (to care?)
when you return to the place you call home
we will be there x2

chorus x2
bridge: solo
(whisper) it seeks me out x4
bridge 2

It’s an interesting, noisy track with the vocals turned down quite a bit. Check it out even if you’re not interested in the viral marketing hype.

Edited — Trent Reznor has released this statement about Year Zero:

“This record began as an experiment with noise on a laptop in a bus on tour somewhere. That sound led to a daydream about the end of the world. That daydream stuck with me and over time revealed itself to be much more,” Reznor said in the statement. “I believe sometimes you have a choice in what inspiration you choose to follow and other times you really don’t. This record is the latter. Once I tuned into it, everything fell into place … as if it were meant to be. … The record turned out to be more than a just a record in scale, as you will see over time.

“Part one is Year Zero. Concept record. Sixteen tracks. What’s it about? Well, it takes place about 15 years in the future. Things are not good. If you imagine a world where greed and power continue to run their likely course, you’ll have an idea of the backdrop,” he continued. “The world has reached the breaking point politically, spiritually and ecologically. Written from various perspectives of people in this world, Year Zero examines various viewpoints set against an impending moment of truth.”

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