Ghosts I–IV (also known as Halo 26) is the seventh studio album from Nine Inch Nails, released March 2, 2008 over the internet, without prior information being released, and released April 8, 2008 in stores worldwide. It was the first NIN material to be independently released since leaving Interscope Records in 2007. The album is a four-volume, 2-disc release consisting of 36 instrumental tracks, featuring guest musicians. It is the most collaborative NIN album to date, with heavily shared songwriting and performance credits.
Deluxe and limited edition versions were sold through nin.com. Initial response was very positive, with heavy traffic causing servers to crash and all limited edition copies being sold in just over a day. Numerous tracks from this album were used in the television docuseries The Vietnam War, which was also scored by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross. On March 26, 2020 two more volumes of the Ghosts series were released unannounced for free during the #STAYHOME initiative in the wake of COVID-19 isolation due to viral outbreak worldwide.
- "1 Ghosts I" - 2:49
- "2 Ghosts I" - 3:16
- "3 Ghosts I" - 3:51
- "4 Ghosts I" - 2:13
- "5 Ghosts I" - 2:52
- "6 Ghosts I" - 4:19
- "7 Ghosts I" - 2:01
- "8 Ghosts I" - 2:56
- "9 Ghosts I" - 2:47
- "10 Ghosts II" - 2:42
- "11 Ghosts II" - 2:17
- "12 Ghosts II" - 2:17
- "13 Ghosts II" - 3:14
- "14 Ghosts II" - 3:06
- "15 Ghosts II" - 1:53
- "16 Ghosts II" - 2:30
- "17 Ghosts II" - 2:13
- "18 Ghosts II" - 5:23
- "19 Ghosts III" - 2:12
- "20 Ghosts III" - 3:39
- "21 Ghosts III" - 2:54
- "22 Ghosts III" - 2:31
- "23 Ghosts III" - 2:44
- "24 Ghosts III" - 2:39
- "25 Ghosts III" - 1:59
- "26 Ghosts III" - 2:26
- "27 Ghosts III" - 2:52
- "28 Ghosts IV" - 5:22
- "29 Ghosts IV" - 2:55
- "30 Ghosts IV" - 2:59
- "31 Ghosts IV" - 2:26
- "32 Ghosts IV" - 4:26
- "33 Ghosts IV" - 4:02
- "34 Ghosts IV" - 5:52
- "35 Ghosts IV" - 3:30
- "36 Ghosts IV" - 2:19
Full total: 110:26
Multitracks for two extra songs, "37 Ghosts" and "38 Ghosts", were found on the data disc that came as part of the deluxe and limited edition releases. "38 Ghosts" is very similar to "Demon Seed".
There is also a Japanese edition of the CD that comes with a bonus disc featuring commentary by Reznor.
Ghosts I–IV was made available in six different formats:
- A free 320Kbps DRM-free MP3 download consisting of Ghosts I only and a JPG file containing the cover art
- DRM-free download in consumers' choice of format (MP3/FLAC/ALAC), 40-page PDF booklet, and digital extras (wallpapers, avatars, banners)
- 2-CD set in custom digipak with 16-page booklet (priced at $10)
- 4XLP vinyl edition, which was made available in Australia and Japan on April 5, 2008, and in the US, UK, and most of Europe on April 8, 2008 (this was not made available through ghosts.nin.com)
- Deluxe Edition (priced at $75), which includes 2 CDs, a DVD-ROM of multitrack files, Blu-ray Disc of the album featuring a 96khz/24bit digital mix of the album as well as a slideshow, and hardcover 48-page booklet in a black fabric slipcase
- Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition (priced at $300), which includes everything in the Deluxe Edition, as well as the album on a 4-part 180 gram vinyl edition and two Giclée prints (one being the image used on the album cover, the other being one of eight other Phillip Graybill images.) This version is limited to 2500 copies, each of which is numbered and signed by Reznor himself. Although it was initially expected that this edition would take a while to sell out, it was announced on March 4, 2008 that all 2500 copies had been sold.
The Standard 2-CD edition, Deluxe Edition, and Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition also included an immediate download of the album in the consumers' choice of format. The Deluxe Edition and Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition were both shipped May 1, 2008.
The official introduction page for the album reads:
Nine Inch Nails presents Ghosts I–IV, a brand new 36 track instrumental collection available right now. Almost two hours of new music composed and recorded over an intense ten week period last fall, Ghosts I - IV sprawls Nine Inch Nails across a variety of new terrain. Trent Reznor explains, "I've been considering and wanting to make this kind of record for years, but by its very nature it wouldn't have made sense until this point. This collection of music is the result of working from a very visual perspective - dressing imagined locations and scenarios with sound and texture; a soundtrack for daydreams. I'm very pleased with the result and the ability to present it directly to you without interference. I hope you enjoy the first four volumes of Ghosts."
The official site also contains the following under "More Info"
This music arrived unexpectedly as the result of an experiment. The rules were as follows: 10 weeks, no clear agenda, no overthinking, everything driven by impulse. Whatever happens during that time gets released as... something.
The team: Atticus Ross, Alan Moulder and myself with some help from Alessandro Cortini, Adrian Belew and Brian Viglione. Rob Sheridan collaborated with Artist in Residence (A+R) to create the accompanying visual and physical aesthetic.
We began improvising and let the music decide the direction. Eyes were closed, hands played instruments and it began. Within a matter of days it became clear we were on to something, and a lot of material began appearing. What we thought could be a five song EP became much more. I invited some friends over to join in and we all enjoyed the process of collaborating on this.
The end result is a wildly varied body of music that we're able to present to the world in ways the confines of a major record label would never have allowed - from a 100% DRM-free, high-quality download, to the most luxurious physical package we've ever created.
More volumes of Ghosts are likely to appear in the future.
- Trent Reznor, March 2, 2008
In commentary tracks from the Japanese release of Ghosts I-IV, Reznor explained that ambient works by Brian Eno and Aphex Twin, as well as Eno and David Byrne's My Life In The Bush Of Ghosts and Bone Machine by Tom Waits were reference points. Reznor also stated in a fan interview that the quieter sound of Still and the Bridge School Benefit shows had provided some inspiration for the album.
The multitracks for all the songs on Ghosts I–IV are included on a DVD-ROM as a part of the deluxe and ultra-deluxe editions of the album which can be ordered from ghosts.nin.com, although the latter has sold out. Additionally, multitracks for the songs "10 Ghosts II", "19 Ghosts III", "26 Ghosts III", "34 Ghosts IV" and "35 Ghosts IV" were available from remix.nin.com.
Main article: The Photography of Ghosts I–IV
Intended as a visual aesthetic to accompany Ghosts I–IV, a 40 page PDF is included with all of the official digital releases from nin.com. Each page is dedicated to a track and serves as the album's credits. The PDF contains photography by Phillip Graybill and Rob Sheridan highlighting the recording process as well as the outside world. The Deluxe and Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition of Ghosts I–IV feature a hardcover booklet in a fabric slipcase.
When purchasing the album in MP3 or Apple Lossless formats through nin.com, each track is embedded with unique track art that differs from the photograph in the PDF. While some of the images appear to be cropped from the larger PDF, most of the images are noticeably different. A slideshow on the Blu-ray from the Deluxe and Ultra-Deluxe editions contains un-cropped versions of the images embedded in the digital version of the album.
In a post on his Patreon, Rob Sheridan posted the following background info:
When the Ghosts I-IV album was coming together, Trent Reznor and I talked about what the visual approach would be, and agreed it should feel organic and textural, something aesthetically miles away from the glitchy sci-fi visuals of NIN's previous release, Year Zero. The instrumental pieces of music that comprised Ghosts felt like soundtracks to places, so environmental photography was a natural fit. I also wanted to capture the recording process itself in a textural way, and blend photography from the studio in with environmental photography, creating a mix of textures that represented the music both directly and thematically.
While we were busy in the studio and Joshua Tree, we sent photographer Phillip Graybill out on a road trip across the US armed with a vintage film camera, specifically to capture environmental textures we could use as imagery in the album. We chose one of his photos from the unique desert landscape of White Sands, New Mexico to be the album cover. A lot of Phillip's photography from Ghosts, especially the album cover, is often misattributed to me, but I only took about half of the photos in Ghosts. Between Phillip's photos and mine we ended up with a massive pool of fantastic art, so Trent and I had a lot to work with as we sat down to pair photos with songs. This led to each track having its own cover art in the digital release, a unique touch I always loved (I did it again on NIN's The Slip and HTDA's Welcome Oblivion) and still wish it was a feature that streaming services supported.
For individual song credits, see song pages
- Trent Reznor: All performance except as noted, production
- Atticus Ross: Programming, arranging, production
- Alan Moulder: Engineering, mix engineering, production
- Rob Sheridan: art direction, with Trent Reznor and Artist In Residence
- With special guests Alessandro Cortini, Adrian Belew and Brian Viglione
- Support: Brett Bachemin, Dustin Mosley, Michael Tuller and Alynn Dotson
- Management: Rebel Waltz
- Mastered by Tom Baker, Precision Mastering, Hollywood, CA
- Photography by Phillip Graybill and Rob Sheridan
- Additional photography: Tamar Levine
- Business management: William Harper and Michael Walsh for Gelfand, Rennert and Feldman, LLP
- Legal: Gary Stiffelman and David Byrnes
- Worldwide booking: Marc Geiger for William Morris Agency
- Label: The Null Corporation
- Press: US—Steve Martin (Nasty Little Man); UK—Frances McCahon (RMP)
- The Null Corporation Europe: Didi Parlevliet
- Web integration: Sudjam
- Thank you: Bruno Bondarelli, Andrew Grad, Andrew "Hans" Buscher, Angela Sidlow, Christina Lum, Cori Bardow, Craig Johnston, Guitar Center, Irina Volodarsky, Jeff Anderson, Jeff Davis, Jeff Masud, Jim Scheel, Miles Rogers and Digidesign, Pable La Rosa and Native Instruments, Paul Cox, Paul Haines, Paul J. Cox Studio Systems, Phillip Scholes and SSL, Ricky Chao, Rock-It Cargo, Roger Cordell and Big City Music, Ross Rosen, Scott Rodger, Shawn Cleary and Analogue Haven, Steve "Coco" Brandon, Vintage King, Westlake Audio, West L.A. Music, Zia Modabber
This album is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial Share Alike license. More information: www.creativecommons.org
halo twenty six
Prior to the album's release photos taken in the studio and cryptic messages had been left on the front page of nin.com suggesting "secret things", however there was no mention of an actual album. Ghosts was released without prior warning when a message from Reznor appearing on nin.com announced that 'The new Nine Inch Nails record is available RIGHT NOW!' with a link to ghosts.nin.com where the album is available in various formats.
Ghosts I was uploaded to various torrent sites, most notably The Pirate Bay, with the following message included:
Nine Inch Nails: Ghosts I (2008)
This torrent is an official upload from Nine Inch Nails.
We're very proud to present a new collection of instrumental music, Ghosts I-IV. Almost two hours of music recorded over an intense ten week period last fall, Ghosts I-IV sprawls Nine Inch Nails across a variety of new terrain.
Now that we're no longer constrained by a record label, we've decided to personally upload Ghosts I, the first of the four volumes, to various torrent sites, because we believe BitTorrent is a revolutionary digital distribution method, and we believe in finding ways to utilize new technologies instead of fighting them.
We encourage you to share the music of Ghosts I with your friends, post it on your website, play it on your podcast, use it for video projects, etc. It's licensed for all non-commercial use under Creative Commons.
We've also made a 40 page PDF book to accompany the album. If you'd like to download it for free, visit
Ghosts I is the first part of the 36 track collection Ghosts I-IV. Undoubtedly you'll be able to find the complete collection on the same torrent network you found this file, but if you're interested in the release, we encourage you to check it out at ghosts.nin.com, where the complete Ghosts I-IV is available directly from us in a variety of DRM-free digital formats, including FLAC lossless, for only $5. You can also order it on CD, or as a deluxe package with multitrack audio files, high definition audio on Blu-ray disc, and a large hard-bound book.
We genuinely appreciate your support, and hope you enjoy the new music. Thanks for listening."
Initial response and technical issues
On March 3, 2008, the day after the release, the following was put up in place of the Ghosts I-IV web site:
Unfortunately, the Ghosts I–IV site is down for the next few hours for maintenance.
We quietly released this album last night without any warning, and without any press. Because we know how devoted our fans are, we planned for an overwhelming response, and expected heavy traffic. To our surprise, the traffic was more than three times what we anticipated, and has only been getting heavier throughout the day. The response has been absolutely phenomenal, and we couldn't be happier, but our servers have taken a beating, causing numerous problems with the download site. Our developers, who have been working non-stop to combat the surge of traffic, feel that taking the site down for a few hours to fix some crucial issues is the best way to get things running smoothly again. We sincerely apologize for the inconvenience.
While the site is down, you can still purchase the complete Ghosts I–IV here from Amazon's MP3 store for only $5. The MP3s are high quality and DRM-free. You can also order the deluxe and limited edition packages from Artist in Residence.
If you're familiar with BitTorrent, you can download Ghosts I, the first of the four volumes, for free, from our official upload at The Pirate Bay.
If you ordered a download and have not yet been able to retrieve it or have experienced any technical difficulties with the download, your download link will work as soon as the site returns.
Thanks again for the amazing support, and your continuing patience. Watch nin.com for updates during the downtime.
Later, the following message was posted to nin.com:
The new Nine Inch Nails record is available RIGHT NOW! (for real this time)
Sorry again about the hassle. Somebody kicked the plug out of our internets, but we're all set now.
P.S. DIGG THIS
posted by Trent Reznor at 8:00 PM pst, from hong kong.
NIN's PR firm, Nasty Little Man, announced that "barely a day after going on sale, the $300 Ultra-Deluxe Limited Edition of Nine Inch Nails’ Ghosts I-IV has completely sold out" and Ghosts I–IV was at #1 at the Amazon mp3 store. On March 12, it was reported by various sites that nin.com had amassed a first week total of 781,917 transactions (including free and paid downloads as well as orders for physical product), resulting in a take of $1,619,420 USD.  Reznor expressed his pleasant surprise over the response in a post on nin.com that read: "We are all amazed at the reaction for what we assumed would be a quiet curiosity in the NIN catalog. My faith in all of you has been restored - let's all go have coffee somewhere (my treat)!"
Following through on Reznor's statement about future volumes, in 2020 the band released Ghosts V-VI.
For more information, see Lights In The Sky Tour
The album (as well as The Slip, which was released the same year) was supported by a tour that visited North and South America. This tour was notable for having the most ambitious production of any NIN tour up to that point, using groundbreaking lighting and video technology. The middle portion of the set, referred to as the "Ghosts" portion, utilized some of that album's unorthodox (for NIN) instrumentation such as marimba, banjo and small percussion.
Main article: Ghosts Film Festival
On March 13, 2008, Reznor announced a partnership with YouTube to host a "film festival" around Ghosts, writing on nin.com:
The concept is for you to take whatever tracks you feel inspired by from Ghosts and create what you feel should accompany them visually. You will be able to see all of the submissions, and a team of us (including me) will be sorting through them and setting aside ones we feel are exceptional. Eventually (within a couple of months?) we will present a virtual "film festival" with me and some special guests presenting selections of your work.
This isn't a contest and you don't win elaborate prizes - it's meant to be an experiment in collaboration and a chance for us to interact beyond the typical one-way artist-to-fan relationship. We've discussed some interesting ways this could go, including multiple installments of the online "film festivals," to broadcast TV specials, to a one-time live performance of the entire Ghosts record with your visuals involved. It really depends on how this progresses and develops.
- The official Ghosts I-IV site (archived at Portrait of Decay)
- Ghosts I-IV PDF at archive.org
- Ghosts I-IV Multitracks at archive.org
- Photos from the recording of Ghosts I-IV
- "New Nine Inch Nails Album Hits The Web" from Billboard.com News
- Spend the day with us: Watch this 2500 times. Reznor signing Limited-Edition books.
- Halo 26 LE Owner's Lists at nin-au.com
- Ghosts I-IV at nincatalog.com
- Ghosts I-IV at Amazon
- Ghosts I-IV at eBay