The Softer Side of Nine Inch Nails

Draw a bubble bath and pour a glass of chardonnay as you chill out to these four ambient and unexpectedly mellow cuts from NIN’s oeuvre.

After a long day of work there’s nothing like a glass of Franzia chardonnay, a bubble bath with your favorite loofah, and bracing dose of Nine Inch Nails. Many will find these elements–relaxing to music about performing the physical act of love like a zoo creature or references to humankind as curly-tailed oinkers–too incongruous to reconcile, but Trent Reznor does in fact have a softer side.

Tonight, NIN unleashes a live show at the Staples Center, one that should showcase its evolution from a minimalist Kraftwerk-style keyboard outfit into a volcanic full-band blowout. The Texas post-rockers Explosions in the Sky, best known for the Friday Night Lights theme song, will open with their expansive soundscapes. It’s going to get loud, that’s for sure, but Reznor, who’s now in his 40s, happily married, and a proud father has changed.

In 2009, he pulled the plug on his agro-industrial band and meandered into soundtrack work, scoring two David Fincher flicks, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and The Social Network, for which he earned an Oscar. How to Destroy Angels, his band with his wife Mariqueen Maandig, was worlds away from the angst and grit of his early works. Four years after he announced his “retirement” with a small show at the Echoplex, Reznor returned with a new album, Hesitation Marks, and this new show.

Tonight should be a facemelter, but for a look at the laid back yin that balances Reznor’s intense yang here are four ambient and unexpectedly mellow cuts from NIN’s oeuvre.

Ghosts I–IV (2008)
For Nine Inch Nails sixth album, Reznor released an almost all instrumental work, with almost all ambient, atmospheric tracks.

The Social Network
Reznor teams up with Atticus Ross for mostly ethereal soundscapes.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo
The second soundtrack offering from the duo of Reznor and Ross features prepared pianos and abstract beats that feels like Aphex Twin or Brian Eno.

How to Destroy Angels
This Reznor project with wife Mariqueen Maandig and Atticus Ross evokes chill-out seshs of the trip-hop persuasion.