Hesitation Marks (also known as Halo 28) is the ninth studio album from Nine Inch Nails. It was released on September 3, 2013 in a total of five formats: CD, Deluxe Edition CD, vinyl, digital and iTunes Deluxe Edition. The album was recorded secretly over the course of a year and came as a complete surprise to fans.
On August 26th, 2013, the full album was leaked on the internet, and was made available for streaming on iTunes the following day. The album was made available in two different masters for digital download, a "standard" version and an "Audiophile Mastered Version" - the latter having extended dynamic range, not meant to be competitive in the loudness war.
- "The Eater Of Dreams" – :52
- "Copy Of A" – 5:23
- "Came Back Haunted" – 5:17
- "Find My Way" – 5:16
- "All Time Low" – 6:18
- "Disappointed" – 5:44
- "Everything" – 3:20
- "Satellite" – 5:03
- "Various Methods Of Escape" – 5:01
- "Running" – 4:08
- "I Would For You" – 4:33
- "In Two" – 5:32
- "While I'm Still Here" – 4:03
- "Black Noise" – 1:29
Deluxe Edition CD
The Deluxe Edition CD includes the following remixes on a second disc:
- "Find My Way" (Oneohtrix Point Never Remix) – 4:47
- "All Time Low" (Todd Rundgren Remix) – 5:49
- "While I'm Still Here" (Breyer P-Orridge 'Howler' Remix) – 7:03
It also comes in a 28 page hardcover book. This is the only packaging that includes lyrics and the booklet contains significantly more artwork than that of the standard CD.
iTunes Deluxe Edition
The iTunes Deluxe Edition includes the above remixes as tracks 15-17 plus an interview as track 18:
- "Trent Reznor In Conversation With..." – 41:58
The interview also includes three untitled demo songs from the album sessions, along with a demo sample of the song "All Time Low". The interview is also included with the album when purchased from HDtracks.
The Japanese standard CD includes an exclusive bonus remix as track 15:
- "Everything" (Autolux Remix) – 4:30
The double vinyl release splits sides between "Find My Way" and "All Time Low", "Everything" and "Satellite", and "Running" and "I Would For You". It also contains the album on CD, as was the case with How To Destroy Angels' Welcome Oblivion.
"I've been less than honest about what I’ve really been up to lately. For the last year I’ve been secretly working non-stop with Atticus Ross and Alan Moulder on a new, full-length Nine Inch Nails record, which I am happy to say is finished and frankly fucking great. This is the real impetus and motivation behind the decision to assemble a new band and tour again. My forays into film, HTDA and other projects really stimulated me creatively and I decided to focus that energy on taking Nine Inch Nails to a new place. Here we go!"
— Trent Reznor, 5.28.13.
It was then officially announced via Twitter on June 5, 2013, the day before the release of its first single, Came Back Haunted. Nine Inch Nails signed with Columbia Records in 2013, making this the first album on a major label since Year Zero.
During the month of August, the tracks "Copy Of A", "Everything" and "Find My Way" were also made available through various online sources. "Copy Of A" and "Everything" were then released as commercial digital singles via Amazon and iTunes on August 20th. A teaser trailer featuring "The Eater Of Dreams" and a look at the album's packaging was posted on August 26th.
Inspiration and recording
The album began as a couple of tracks that were meant to be included in a forthcoming greatest hits package for Interscope Records. The sessions gave way to more songs and ended up yielding an entire album.
In an interview with The Guardian, Reznor revealed that the two songs originally written and recorded for the hits package were "Everything" and "Satellite". He also explained what inspired, in his view, a more minimal and sparse treatment of the music:
"What I found the most inspiring was sitting with just a drum machine in my bedroom, in my office. Not having a keyboard or a guitar and playing everything on pads. Me sitting alone with literally one piece of gear just messing around, I found it exciting. It lent to the minimal edge, because it didn't feel like it needed more."
The album title is a term for wounds that are sometimes made when a person is contemplating suicide by wrist cutting. Fans have speculated that this is either a reference to Reznor being not quite ready to put NIN to rest, or a reference to the fact that the album is conceptually an "upward spiral" and a reflection of the fact that Reznor did not end up killing himself when he was at his lowest point.
Relation to The Downward Spiral
In interviews with The New York Times and SPIN, Reznor stated that he had The Downward Spiral in mind as he worked on Hesitation Marks:
"I felt very aware that it's 20 years later, and I'm still that guy. I know that guy, and I feel for him. I don't resent him, I don't miss him. But how would things feel on the other side of that now, in a much more stable life place, mentally and physically, and with a new family? The incentive has changed. It's not about, 'I'm going to kill myself if I don't get this out of my head.' But the excavation and the architecture behind it, the motivation behind it, is similar."
"For some reason, when I started working more on Hesitation Marks, I started thinking back romantically about who I was when I was writing The Downward Spiral. I was looking back on who I was then and who I am now and how things have turned out, for better or worse. That was the air the new record was born in. I was looking at the other side of how I was not always honest about who I was in the '90s — and I knew I wasn't being honest — and if you sprinkle those negative feelings with some drugs and alcohol, it's usually not a recipe for success."
This album marks a return to the artwork of Russell Mills, whose work was previously used for March Of The Pigs, The Downward Spiral, Further Down The Spiral and Closure. There is a different cover for each of the five editions. Reznor stated in a radio interview that he couldn't choose between the various covers and decided to use them all. He also stated that Mills had suggested the album title.
Some of the alternate covers are used within the packaging of the other editions, i.e. the cover of the standard CD is inside the gatefold of the vinyl, the cover of the iTunes Deluxe Edition is on the booklet of the standard CD, etc.
The covers of the international and Japanese standard CDs are a variation on the cover of the US standard CD, with the painting oriented sideways and, in the case of the Japanese cover, photographed from a slightly different vantage point and lighter in hue. The digital Audiophile Mastered Version cover is a variation on the standard digital cover, with the painting again oriented sideways.
In a post on the official NIN Tumblr account, the various artwork was elaborated on by Mills:
"The artworks, (30 mixed media pieces) that I eventually produced towards uses in the Hesitation Marks releases, evolved out of lengthy exchanges between myself and Trent and in response to the conceptual ideas that thread through the tracks and to the sonic territory that the album explores. I’ve tried to lock into the album’s prevailing mood and echo the album’s essence. The ideas are not communicated in a literal or easily digested form, as this would be boring for me and would insult the intelligence of a potential audience. I’ve tried to make works that obliquely allude to the essence of the subject matter, to its emotional core.
As with my self-initiated works - the paintings, assemblages, collages and multimedia installations - personal ideas and obsessions seep into these works. The organic, the natural, prevailing over or feeding into the industrial, the man made, is a common theme in my work generally and in this instance was particularly apt for the art required.
The works explore ideas of catharsis, of being into dissolution into being, both on a personal and sociological level. They allude to ideas about chaos and order. They deal with ways of suggesting presence in absence. They are a cross between the forensic and a pathology of the personal in which only fragments remain, in which minimal clues can suggest events that may have occurred. They attempt to harness the chaos of a situation, of now, of the personal trauma, of the human condition, into a form that is coherent, a form that accommodates the mess without disguising it as something else. It attempts to capture the essence of these ideas by implication and exclusion. Beneath the form lies the uncertainty and ceaseless flux of the mess, of the chaos.
An amalgam of the contextually-anchored and the process-driven, they are hopefully powerful, arresting, seductive, suggestive and resonant. I hope that they will invite multiple readings."
The titles and materials for the five paintings are as follows:
- Digital cover: "Turn And Burn" (Plaster, earth, oils, acrylics, etching varnish, bitumen, burning, rusted linen, blood, spent matches, on wood)
- Deluxe CD cover: "Cargo In The Blood" (Burning, Polaroid frame, copper wire, mica, on velvet, on wood)
- Standard CD cover: "Time And Again" (Plaster, earth, oils, acrylics, etching varnish, rusted linen, blood, microscope slides, on wood)
- Vinyl cover: "Other Murmurs" (Plaster, earth, oils, acrylics, etching varnish, collage, on canvas, on wood)
- iTunes Deluxe cover: "Lures" (Plaster, earth, oils, acrylics, fishing flies, threads, on wood)
For more information, see Live 2013-2014
The album is being supported by a major tour that has so far visited festivals and arenas around the world. The touring lineup was expanded to eight members for the Tension leg, and was the largest in the history of the band and the first to utilize backup singers. The visual elements are partly a logical continuation of those from the Lights In The Sky Tour. The tour will stretch into 2014 and will include a co-headlining leg with Queens Of The Stone Age. The Los Angeles show of the Tension leg was filmed and will be released on DVD and Blu-ray in Spring 2014.
All Hesitation Marks songs have been played live except "The Eater Of Dreams" and "Everything", though the latter has been played at rehearsals for the Tension 2013 tour.
- Written by Trent Reznor
- Produced by Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross, and Alan Moulder
- Arranged by Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross
- Programmed by Atticus Ross, with Trent Reznor and Dustin Mosley
- Mixed by Alan Moulder
- Mastered by Tom Baker at Precision Mastering, Hollywood, CA
- Engineered by Jun Murakawa, Dustin Mosley, Atticus Ross, and Alan Moulder
- Artwork by Russell Mills
- Photographed by Rob Sheridan and Dayve Ward
- Digital Assistance by Michael Webster
- Art Direction by Rob Sheridan
- Management: Rebel Waltz
- Booking: Marc Geiger at WME
- Publicity: Ambrosia Healy, The Fun Star
- Business Management: William "Bill" Harper and Michael Walsh at Gelfand, Rennert and Feldman, LLP
- Legal: Gary Stiffelman and David Byrnes at Ziffren Brittenham, LLP
- Studio Manager / Project Coordination / Guy That Makes Everything Work: Dustin Mosley
- Additional Recording at The Village Studios, West LA
- Engineered by Ghian Wright and Jun Murakawa
- Drum Recording by Joe Barresi at JHOC, Pasadena
- Engineered by Jun Murakawa
- Drum Technician: Mike Fasano
All songs published by Form And Texture [ASCAP] except:
"The Eater Of Dreams" written by Trent Reznor and Alessandro Cortini, mixed and engineered by Michael Patterson.
Published by Form And Texture / Modwheelmusic, Inc. [ASCAP]
"While I'm Still Here" contains portions of "Weary Blues From Waiting" [Hank Williams, Sr.]
Published by Sony/ATV Acuff Rose Music [BMI]
Ableton, Antiquity Music, Stephen Bannister and Joe Taupier from Westlake Pro, Gerry Barad, Karen Ciccone, Alessandro Cortini, Adrian and Martha Belew, Michele Bernstein, Big City Music, Elena Dickstein and Preferred Travel, Lon Cohen Studio Rentals, Tom Consolo, Markus Dravs, Erik Eger, Joshua Eustis, Robin Finck, Nicki Goldstein and Midway Car Rental, Jeff Greenberg and Tina Morris at The Village, Toni Halliday, Izotope, Claudia Lagan, Christina Lum, Mariqueen, Frank McDonogh, Ian Montone, Joe Munns, Steve Nightingale, Samantha Sissons, Rob Fleming, Olivia Hobbs, Hannah Neaves, Susie Ember and the rest of the Universal Music team, Native Instruments, Amos Newman, Ruairi O'Flaherty and PMC Ultimate Speakers, David Passick, Maurice Patist, Michael Patterson, Marc Picken, Tony Pinnick and Design FX Audio, Glen Pratley and SSL, Pete Prokopiw, Sandy Roberton, Ross Rosen, Aaron Rubin, Ilan Rubin, Joe Ryan and Rock-It Cargo, Claudia Sarne, Angela Sidlow, Dave Sitek, Dave Smith and everyone at Dave Smith Instruments, Soundtoys, Seph Sowers, Rob Stringer, Ashley Newton, Mark Williams, Scott Greer, Erika Alfredson, Bryan Younce and the rest of the Columbia team, Marc Vangool, Irina Volodarksy, Barbara West, Iowa Wong and Selene Yen.
"Find My Way" (Oneohtrix Point Never Remix)
- Mixed by Daniel Lopatin + Paul Corley
- Additional Engineering by Paul Corley
- Recorded in a kitchen in Brooklyn, NY
"All Time Low" (Todd Rundgren Remix)
- Remixed by Todd Rundgren
- Vocals by Trent Reznor and Todd Rundgren
"While I'm Still Here" (Breyer P-Orridge 'Howler' Remix)
- Remixed by Genesis Breyer P-Orridge, an Angry Love production (BMI)
- Engineered by Sean Ragon at Heaven Street Studios, June 2013
- Additional Vocals: Genesis and Lady Jaye Breyer P-Orridge
- Tibetan Thigh Bone Trumpet & Shiva Naga Serpent Trumpet: Sean Ragon