Dec 15, 2007

The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!

You know, it's amazing how even the underground has its levels of hype and overhype. Not to say that Radiohead is "underground" by any means, but their decision to put up the new album, "in Rainbows," as a digital download for which listeners could pay what they want has been heralded as a move that will change the face of the music industry. Meanwhile, a remarkable collaboration that went further than radiohead (with big names of its own, but maybe not names that stack up against the unlikely combination of stadium-filling grandeur and art rock that is the radiohead phenomenon) hasn't gotten much play. Well, maybe real music heads know about it, but I sure didn't.

It's a collaboration by Saul Williams, poet, MC, and voice, and trent reznor. Yeah, that trent reznor. Called "The Inevitable Rise and Liberation of NiggyTardust!", an obvious tip of the hat to Bowie's Stardust album, it was made available in two formats online in November 2007: a $5 version that comes in either 192Kbps DRM-free MP3 or FLAC (lossless), or, completely free, which comes in the 192Kbps DRM-free version. Both come with a beautiful, 33 page PDF of lyrics and intricate artwork that's worth the $5 alone. I still have to listen to most of it, but it's an edgy piece of work - Reznor's production shines, unhampered by his usual attempts to rewrite his angst from his first 2 albums in new and interesting ways. Williams is a powerful MC, and he even pulls in a cover of U2's Sunday Bloody Sunday for good measure.

I strongly recommend this album to anyone looking for something new and interesting, and in the interest of supporting artists who aren't afraid to take on the record companies and distribute their own music at a far more reasonable price than what you get for packaging at a big box store. And this album, unlike the Radiohead album, will not be available on CD after the fact (which folks didn't know when the rh album hit the net).

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