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2007.06.05

[Call_and_Response_#18: Your_Verdict_on_Year_Zero]

Sheesh, you readers are quieter than my first-grade class after Sister Elizabeth paddled someone. Quieter than a university's folklore library at closing time. Quieter than the vacuum of space. Quieter than...well, you get the picture.

I mean, I can yap all day about all kinds of Bono and bullshit, but I'd like to hear from YOU, our reserved, reticent, restrained readers. And specifically, I'd like to hear what you all REALLY think of Trent's new album. Although all the anticipation and hype has died down, and the ARG has been set on pause, there really still is a lot to talk about. Ponder these questions, if you will, and then, let's hear from you!

Are you still listening to Year Zero? What's your favorite song on it? Least favorite song? Where do you think it ranks in terms of Trent's body of work? How do you feel about Trent getting sci-fi political on us? Do you think the ARG helped or hurt the album? Where do you want the story to go? Do you even want it to continue? What do you think Trent should do with the ARG? What do you think he should have done? What the fuck is "Vessel" about? Would you want to see a Year Zero movie or miniseries? Do you think the album leak hurt its sales? Why do people buy Avril Lavigne records anyway?

All of these topics are up for grabs, people. Well, except the Avril Lavigne thing anyway.

Ready? GO!

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Yes, I am still listening to it, and my fav is God Given, because Trent´s voice sounds so gorgeously brutal and male on it. Least favourite song, if I have to pick one, would be In This Twilight. I don´t know, it´s a bit boring. Oh, and Trent gets a deduction of points for the little melody at the end of Survivalism, which sounds a bit too much like a warm-up of the melody at the end of Closer to me.
But as a whole, I like the album. It´s a very integrated album, all songs fit together very well.
Trent getting sci-fi-political on us – well, I think this is one of the basic movements for industrial music anyway, to start people thinking about their environment. Therefore, it´s only logical. I think it´s great, because someone like he has the power to really move a large amount of people.
And yes, considering the beautiful comic strip story on onecountryatatime.net, I would really like to see what they make of the whole year zero story in a movie.
So far my 2 cents.

Posted by: whitelady | Jun 5, 2007 2:49:50 PM

"Meet Your Master" is good and so is "Zero Sum".

The rest of the album is a vague, disconnected mess, mostly because Reznor failed to deliver on his whole "new form of narrative" thang... the ambitions of this album were torpedoed the minute the ARG died, which happened shortly after the album's release.

Ultimately, I think YEAR ZERO is Reznor's moment of biggest wasted potential -- there was the chance to do something staggering here, and there may be a shot at redemption yet, but it certainly doesn't lie in enlisting the "A Listers" of another artistically corrupt industry.

It will come from Reznor committing himself 100% to creating a new form of artistic storytelling experience. YEAR ZERO looked like it was going to be that thing, then fell short, unfortunately. Still like the music, but ultimately I think the record is a broken promise.

Posted by: Gabriel | Jun 5, 2007 3:05:21 PM

Oh, and I have another idea -- why don't you fucking start a discussion by DISCUSSING something instead of daring our bored readers to do so. Why don't you just retitle your post "I'm Too Lazy To Think Of Something To Say But Thought I Should Post Something Because It Had Been A While".

Posted by: Gabriel | Jun 5, 2007 3:07:34 PM

Hey G-spot, that stick up your ass further then usual?

Posted by: FUCKERNOTTUCKER, please | Jun 5, 2007 3:15:20 PM

I like to eat, eat, eat, apples and bananas!
I like to eat, eat, eat, opples and bononos!
I like to eat, eat, eat, eeples and beeneenees!
I like to eat, eat, eat, upples and bununus!
I like to eat, eat, eat, ipples and bininis!

Posted by: FUCKERNOTTUCKER, please | Jun 5, 2007 3:23:23 PM

Gabriel IS the stick up the ass. Ponder that one. He doesn't bother me.

I am very satisfied with Year Zero as an album. I was a little worried with all his rumblings of "new directions" and "rhythm/rhyme/whatever"...I was worried it wouldn't sound like him. But it does, and it's very engaging.

The songs I LOVE in no particular order are as follows:

Survivalism
My Violent Heart
Capital G
God Given
Meet Your Master
In This Twlight
Zero Sum

That's a pretty healthy chunk of the whole album. And I don't actively dislike any of the songs, although I don't see much point to "The Greater Good" and "Vessel."

I am disappointed that the ARG died and that some of the songs (yes, I'm talking to you, "Me, I'm Not") don't seem to correspond to what we've learned through the ARG.

Let's just say that I'm greatly apprehensive with regard to any kind of Year Zero movie or the like. Lest it turn into something like "Across the Universe," which can only be a TRAVESTY.

Posted by: maise | Jun 5, 2007 3:45:18 PM

Determined to tackle each of these.

Definitely still listening to Year Zero; had it on in the car this morning.
Best-written song is In This Twilight; but the one I actually enjoy the most is Meet Your Master.
It's my second-favourite album, after The Fragile, then narrowly followed by TDS.
I like the sci-fi political thing; think it makes a nice deviation from the usual inwardly morbid concepts.
I'm a big ARG fan, actually. Been following it quite closely, it's been fantastic. I think for the fans it's a bonus, for people who don't care it's not good or bad. You don't need to participate in it to enjoy the music for what it is.
Wherever Reznor wants the story to go, I'm cool with that. I trust the dude. But definitely continue.
I think the ARG is working very well on drawing together reality and the supposed future. More of that, more information on the world of Year Zero ... and something for Australia. Jeez.
Vessel, reminds me of drugs, obviously. Maybe a link to Opal from the ARG. Who the fuck knows.
Year Zero movie or mini-series would be fucking awesome. There's a great world set up, it just needs to executed right.
Album leak ... maybe. Personally, I was listening to the leak, and it convinced me that I liked the album. Thus, I purchased it. If I like the music enough, I'll always buy it.
And I don't buy Avril Lavigne. I used to think she was alright, but this recent stuff seems like absolute shit.

Posted by: Artemisian | Jun 5, 2007 4:06:19 PM

It's Maise-bot to the rescue! Did you catch a virus at the Gasometer?

Posted by: pokeydots | Jun 5, 2007 5:20:10 PM

I liked the album a lot...so I feel sort of strange saying this...but I think it should end after Year Zero 2. I don't want a movie, or a reality TV show, or another form of the ARG. I think it's great that Trent is voicing his political beleifs, and I enjoy sci-fi plots so I know I should be happy, but...

His concept is a mishmash of Margrate Atwood's The Handmaids Tale, Orwell's 1984, and Elizabeth Hand's Glimmering. To me-and I realize this sounds annoyingly snobish-it wasn't orgininal or interesting enough to become the new face of NIN. It bothers me that more people-caught up in the hype of the ARG- are putting more effort and attention into defending that future-fantasy world than protecting the 'real' world and dealing with the serous problems we have today-both locally and globally.

Posted by: Rubicon | Jun 5, 2007 6:25:42 PM

I do trust Trent to put together an excellent sequel or trilogy or whatever he has in mind, but part of me wishes that he would leave the entire concept at the simple, eloquent heartbreak of "Zero Sum." I mean, once you've ended the world, what are you going to do that's not a rehash of The Stand? When he talks about "writing himself in a corner," I wonder if that's what he's referring to.

Posted by: maise | Jun 5, 2007 7:11:37 PM

*sigh* I wish music and the rest of the world would stay away from each other. The only reason NIN is so devotable--is that an actual word?!--is 'cause NIN has been staying away from reality from the get-go.
This YZ album...freaks my head.
Will Trent become yet another fuck-spewing crusader? I'll not stand for another one.
Sorry Sparklepants. Love you. Really.

Posted by: FUCKERNOTTUCKER, please | Jun 5, 2007 7:36:46 PM

(By the time you have read through all this you will probably be sorry you asked :-)


Are you still listening to Year Zero?
Yep.

What's your favorite song on it?
‘Meet Your Master’ or ‘Zero - Sum’ (though ‘In This Twilight’ is so far ahead in my play count that I don’t know any song will ever again touch it... )


Least favorite song?
‘Me, I’m Not’

Where do you think it ranks in terms of Trent's body of work?
In the larger sweep of Rock History, well... when the next Rolling Stone top albums of all time come out, The Downward Spiral will still be there and I don’t think Year Zero will. But as far as ambition I think it is the most ambitious work (yes even more than the Fragile which was ambitious in a different way...). It feels a lot like a first half though and I think that a definitive statement on the impact and value will have to wait until the next album.

How do you feel about Trent getting sci-fi political on us?
Everyone is talking about the fad, the whole “I hated Bush before it was cool” thing, but that is part of what I like so much about Year Zero... it is not as tied to this current administration, it gives it a more timeless warning feel, though it will be dated (like 1984 or Alas Babylon that this is really dated!) the general warnings and ideas remain relevant. And I do think the narrative works really well. It is just not spoon fed to us like most things in pop culture now are. You have to work at it. I really have appreciated how the ARG and the album have assumed we were smart enough to figure it out and play along.

Do you think the ARG helped or hurt the album?
I think it helped immensely... it created a world and a mind set in which to house the songs and I, at least, feel much more connected to the album than if I had just read a booklet telling me the story, even a well written booklet. (But then we must all remember that even now I am completely sucked into the whole ARG, hook line and sinker, to the point that it is a little sick... and probably doesn’t speak very well for my mental health... I for one will be taking a vacation and getting the hell out of LA during the Academy Awards 2009)

Where do you want the story to go?
Please explain the freaken presence to me! Please! I am down to begging!

Where do I want it to go? Lets destroy the world and watch it burn! Where do I think it will go? I think we will have reluctant redemption... and despite my burn it all tendencies, that will probably be the most satisfying ending as well.

Do you even want it to continue?
Hell yes!

Ok, I have a pet theory that has been bothering me a lot. I think we were left with the wrong impression at the end of the ARG. It is beautiful and heartbreaking ending with the Dear Danny (or Jane) letter but I don’t think we were meant to end here. I think we were meant to find that web site earlier (most likely from the solutions backwards initiative site) and we just missed it (that is why it showed up on the Exhibit 24 web site... and then when we still didn’t get it and they knew the ARG was coming to an intermission they called a few of the phone holders with that clunky, for them, clue). But think about it. If we had ended, as I believe we were supposed to, with Exhibit 24 there would be a very different feel right now, less apocalyptical and more paranoid. I don’t think the world has ended yet... something very very bad happened that is true, and we are closer to the end than before... but the Bureau of Morality is alive and well... and they are watching us...

What do you think Trent should do with the ARG?
Ah, now this is interesting because we are at a very intriguing place in the ARG. We now know that all the sites were being watched and that they have our screen names... so we can’t trust anything. But I really like the blurring of the lines between the good guys and the bad guys. Maybe have us choose a side?

But I have not forgotten just how much info they have (paranoia, paranoia, paranoia). And things were getting much more... hum... personal. So yeah, anyone expecting another e-mail or maybe a phone call? Or log on and read about your own imprisonment or death... oh wait... ha. Actually I think TV might be the next media to be utilized... commercials maybe? That would be cool. Or maybe a real time live chat?


What do you think he should have done?
Done about what?

With the ARG? Not imprisoned my little brother! My family is blaming me for that one and so Christmas is going to be uncomfortable!

WIth the album? I’m just going to say it... I don’t like the album cover. The arms inside, great. The wall and the two cityscapes brilliant. The windshield and the presence... eh?

With life in general? The beard doesn’t work for me. Love the sideburns, and the spiky hair, but the beard reminds me too much of my crazy ex-uncle.

What the fuck is "Vessel" about?
Opal. The seductive/destructive power of drugs. Control. Throw in some sex, or better yet, sex while on Opal, and its all fun from there.

Would you want to see a Year Zero movie or miniseries?
No. Not even a little bit (of course if they make it I will go... repeatedly, and buy the DVD and all that but I don’t think they should... I could be wrong, I could be blown away, but I like the pictures in my head and the pictures the music paints and I don’t know I want to see some else’s pictures... not even Trent’s)

Do you think the album leak hurt its sales?
Ah, that is the question of the hour for the entire music industry right now and the subject of my 11 am Monday morning class... If anyone knows the definitive answer please, e-mail me, I have a final in two weeks.

Now, do I personally think so. Yea I do. There is no doubt album sales are down and if this was ten years ago they would be much higher. The doubt come in with people who listened to the leak and then buy an album they would not have bought otherwise...

Why do people buy Avril Lavigne records anyway?
Masochism. Deep rooted masochism.

Posted by: Adrienne | Jun 5, 2007 10:08:58 PM

Are you still listening to Year Zero?

Not at all. It sucks.

What's your favorite song on it?

"Great Destroyer" - That song, especially the end, is what the whole album should have been.

Least favorite song?

All the rest.

Where do you think it ranks in terms of Trent's body of work?

It ranks below those empty tracks on Broken.

How do you feel about Trent getting sci-fi political on us?

It's tired and derivative. Sorry guys, it is. For a dude who has made a living being one step ahead of the mainstream this is a colossal misstep. I'm sorry - you name any dystopian future movie/book etc and it is better than Year Zero. WATERWORLD was better. THE POSTMAN was better. BULL DURHAM was better.

Do you think the ARG helped or hurt the album?

Helped. Great idea.

Where do you want the story to go?

Somewhere original - prove me wrong, Trent! - sucker me in with the cliche and then blow my mind and salvage what little respect I have left for you.

Do you even want it to continue?

Only if it is good.

What do you think Trent should do with the ARG?

Take it up 12 notches. Hire pro actors, develop more content... make us feel like we REALLY live in this world. Give me the ultimate multi-media holodeck experience.

What do you think he should have done?
Spent more time on the details of the ARG, the music, etc. There is no depth here. Someone coing to TDS for the first time with no other knowledge of NIN could dig through the lyrics for hours. Not so with YZ.

WIth the album?

He should have brought in outside musicians. Heresy? Maybe. But some artists get a real second wind when they bring in other people to challenge them and provide constructive opinions and compositions/ideas.

With life in general?

I'm all about the beard. A handlebar mustache would have ruled.

What the fuck is "Vessel" about?
Who cares? Really?

Would you want to see a Year Zero movie or miniseries?

No. Maybe a retro "Choose Your Own Adventure" book, but more ambitious. I'm Serious.

Do you think the album leak hurt its sales?

Not even a little bit. What hurt him is he is getting older and less passionate about music (as evidenced by his constant telling to the press about how eager he is to get done with his record contract). Every ageing artist suffers from this. Plus after 18 years of "playing Trent" for fans, I'm sure he's tired of having to live up to his persona. Anyway - records sales just aren't what they used to be and NIN is not the hot item it used to be. It just isn't (not a sleight on NIN or Trent - just the reality of the biz).

Why do people buy Avril Lavigne records anyway?
Because she is a hot-ass Canadian slutbomb.

Don't be blinded by Trent worship, people... I think he is a terifically talented guy who has made some great music - but this just ain't it.

Iris - I've been too busy to type up the recipes but they are coming (I've been on suicide watch with my cat ever since he read (yes, he can read) that you called him "fat"

Posted by: Angelman | Jun 5, 2007 11:40:09 PM

Adrienne, I think I'm falling in love with you.

LOTS to comment on, but it's 2 in the morning, and I'm supposed to just take my pills and go right back to bed.

More to follow...

Thanks, guys! I knew you could do it! Keep it up!

Posted by: maise | Jun 6, 2007 12:11:51 AM

Who the hell is buying Advil lah-vig-nee cds anyway?
From what I can tell, kids--on buzznet, at least--think she's a phony and are rather disgusted with her.

Posted by: FUCKERNOTTUCKER, please | Jun 6, 2007 6:33:21 AM

Adrienne, there are so many good points in your post, I don't even know where to begin.

This statement probably most closely echoes my personal feelings:

Where do you think it ranks in terms of Trent's body of work?
In the larger sweep of Rock History, well... when the next Rolling Stone top albums of all time come out, The Downward Spiral will still be there and I don’t think Year Zero will. But as far as ambition I think it is the most ambitious work (yes even more than the Fragile which was ambitious in a different way...). It feels a lot like a first half though and I think that a definitive statement on the impact and value will have to wait until the next album.

What I most admire about Year Zero is its ambition, its attempt to branch out into something completely different, even if it doesn't always succeed at that attempt. Content-wise, it's different than anything Trent has ever done. It's outwardly-focused, it's sci-fi political (in a way that's not preachy or obnoxious), and through the album supplemented by the ARG, he has created a very detailed alternate universe. The album and the ARG are not without their flaws, but I still feel that it's quite an accomplishment and one of Trent's most *interesting* projects in years.

And at this point, I feel that maybe the ARG should be a bit more focused and character-driven. We've gotten a really good glimpse at the world of Year Zero, and I don't think we need any more quasi-snarky "Be a patriot, turn in your neighbors!" websites. Maybe we should get to know people in more detail, especially if they're going to be active in "preventing" Year Zero from happening.

Another option would be to make the ARG even more interactive with phone calls, emails, commercials, etc., as Adrienne suggested.

Also, Open Source Resistance needs to do MORE. I mean, Art IS Resistance, after all, but wouldn't it be cool if they could motivate people to send emails or letters to Congress about a couple of pet issues, like protecting habeas corpus? There are ways people could be rewarded for participating in OSR projects, like special downloads, access to new parts of the ARG, etc. That would also be a way to transition people from caring about a fictional future world to caring about our world now. Also, God Bless the City of Angels, but can the rest of us play too when OSR has some kind of meet-up?

As far as album sales go, I'm not sure whether people just don't want to pay for music anymore or whether it's because the people who would normally buy an album and think, "Eh" now listen to it ahead of time and think, "Eh, I don't need to buy that one." The album leak may have resulted in less people buying the album out of curiosity, but I bet that everyone who *has* bought it is a satisfied customer, at least.

Angelman, underneath all your snark and your attempts to out-Gabriel Gabriel, you actually a valid point or two. The ARG *should* be taken up as many notches as it can go. Some people may dismiss it as so much dorkery, but the more absorbing and involving the ARG is for the people who like to play, the better.

I don't think Trent is less passionate about music, but he *is* very dissatisfied with the music industry. And you can hardly blame him for that...it is run by morons.

I can't agree with you on the beard either...how can he rock out with that beard? It's so...paternal. I just can't even picture it.

Posted by: maise | Jun 6, 2007 7:28:59 AM

so here goes:
favorite song: torn between so many! first ones that come to mind are capital g, zero sum and in this twilight. i can't believe anyone could dislike that song...
but i love the whole album, i don't skip any of the tracks and would have a hard time picking a least favorite, though 'god given' is the closest thing for me.
can we just talk a minute about the awesome ness of 'the great destroyer'?? is anyone else struck by the almost 80s way he screams 'i am the great destroyer' the second times (it kind of made me giggle the first time i heard it) then kicks you in the back of the head with one of the best nin beats ever. seriously. seriously.
i think the ARG was awesome. the fac that they threw in those personal stories (that amazing comic book/strip, the dear danny letter) made it amazing. i was impressed. but i read in an interview that he used the ARG as a backstory for the tracks, and that was amazing for me. if i didn't have the stories behind the songs it would have been lacking in any sort of emotional engagement for me. (the great destroyer=angry sniper, the warning=the comic book [maybe?])
the vessel just screams parein to me, did no one else think of that?
i fear the ARG being expanded into a movie because not only do i have the obvious fears of it being the worst idea ever, but honestly, i know that trent would start it, get us all pumped and then not release it because it wasn't good enough. tapeworm part dieux.
honestly i'm getting a little pissed at everyone's (gabriel) whining about there not being more ARG. Trent is one dude, and he's got more to do than please our geek asses with backstory and scary as hell websites. as much as i love it and will go crazy when it starts again, i'm frankly more excited for a u.s. tour, another album or five, and having him not die of exhaustion.
and frankly there are too many real life niel czernos out there for us to be getting behind and supporting and joining to agree with your disillusionment. honestly.

Posted by: guru shabd | Jun 6, 2007 7:49:13 AM

Everybody listen up, because yours truly will likely never utter these words again (nor will it be a fact ever again, most likely):

Angelman Is Right.

We can all talk about great ambition, and what was intended, and how neato-keen that is, but let's face it -- that is the very DEFINITION of cutting an artist slack because you like them. That's letting your love the artist, and knowing where they came from, and where they hope to go, cloud your perception of the work itself.

There's nothing wrong with loving the work of the artists we love -- all of it, even the less than stellar stuff. The "Deep" video rules in its stupid way, for example. But to really look at "Year Zero" properly we all have to put aside what Trent may or may not have intended to do, and see what exactly he put out there into the world: a half-baked concept with enormous potential that never manifested.

Yes, there are several great songs on there (don't agree with Angleman in this regard), but they are disposable, and without context or deeper meaning. I think he may have INTENDED for them to be deeper, but in fact they don't. Yes, the ARG helped the record, because it took a bunch of nonsense words and gave us a SLIVER of a notion of what the fuck he was talking about, but when you have a record that is set up as a form of narrative, but instead just gives two plot points: The Epic Visitation Of the Others, Telling Earthlings to Get Their Shit Together Or They Will Destroy Us, and then Everything Getting Blown UP at the end of the album, with a bunch of non-specific, unrelatable vaguery thrown in before and in between, you have the equivalent of a drunk college girl trying to jerk you off for the first time and passing out before she can finish.

Sure, she may have intended to show you a good time, but all you're left with is a bad attitude, and then you have to go into the bathroom to finish shit yourself.

Trent's other records get you off, 100%. This one leaves you chaffed and wanting.

Posted by: Gabriel | Jun 6, 2007 10:50:49 AM

Gabriel, if you're calling the lyrics to this album "nonsense words" and "vagaries," then you're not paying enough attention. And you know it.

Granted, there are some exceptions to this. "The Greater Good" = WTF?

Posted by: maise | Jun 6, 2007 11:00:25 AM

And is it possible to feel fully satisified from an album that you know is supposed to be Part One of Two or More?

Posted by: maise | Jun 6, 2007 11:05:13 AM

Maise, please -- we went through this game off-site two days ago.

I challenged Maise to explain to me what each song was about on YEAR ZERO. We each had WILDLY different interpretations on several songs (i.e., to the point where the meaning of my take was anathema to the meaning of her take) and a bunch of others we were just all, "Uh, I dunno."

And it wasn't just "The Greater Good". It was also "Me, I'm Not"; "Vessel"; my fave "Meet Your Master", "The Great Destroyer"; etc... And two of the songs we did find meaning in were so blatantly about the most surface level takes of obvious issues in modern day America that Paul Haggis would have been embarassed.

Being non-specific and conceptually elusive is fine if Trent wants to be coy about some girl named "Annie" -- it's not fine if he's telling a STORY. Stop making excuses Maise. The content is not there and you know it.

Posted by: Gabriel | Jun 6, 2007 11:09:11 AM

I didn't need to see Matrix Revolutions to know that Matrix Reloaded didn't work, Maise.

STOP MAKING EXCUSES.

Posted by: Gabriel | Jun 6, 2007 11:09:59 AM

Liar, liar, PVC pants on fire. We did NOT talk about "The Greater Good," or "Meet Your Master" OR "The Great Destroyer," and I had to leave before you could tell me how WRONG I was about "Me, I'm Not."

Granted, Trent's not saying anything that good progressive liberal types didn't already know, but you are so throwing the baby out with the bathwater as usual by crying about how much it SUCKS.

And need I remind you? When you first heard this album, you sounded pretty damn satisfied. Not at all like a Matrix: Reloaded review.

Posted by: maise | Jun 6, 2007 11:23:54 AM

Gabriel is just coming to the realization I pointed out to you a few threads back, that once the "I like NIN - new album - YAY!" thing wore off YEAR ZERO would reveal its lack of depth. Gabriel is ahead of you. A few months from now, when you realize it too, we can all come back to this thread and laugh about how you didn't believe us.

Posted by: Angelman | Jun 6, 2007 11:37:03 AM

And let's not forget the most relevant portion of my review, Maise, which you conveniently glossed over (or maybe your Denial Filter prevented you from reading it):

Lyrically, I suspect more will be revealed about the storyline being described via the ARG, but lacking this knowledge is not diminshing my experience of the record, as it had before; it's simply hungering me for more.

Even then I thought the record was weak lyrically, and content wise, and perhaps naively assumed the ARG would fill in the gaps of a larger story. This larger story never came, of course, and the gaps remained unfilled, as the ARG ended days after I posted that review.

Oh shit, what was that I just heard? The sound of Maise being PWNED.

Posted by: Gabriel | Jun 6, 2007 11:44:09 AM

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