Swirling around the announcement of Nine Inch Nail’s upcoming album, Year Zero, are stories of mysterious finds related to the album: songs “leaked” on thumb drives left in bathrooms during concerts, unsettling websites and videos haunted by an ominous presence, and glimpses into a dystopian future not far removed from our own.
Unfolding from the websites, songs, and videos is a tale of oppression, injustice, and revolution. Fed up with increasing violence, civil unrest and terrorism, an unelected U.S. Government created a Bureau of Morality and restarted the nation’s clock at Year Zero. The First Amendment is now a thing of the past and the authorities have their thumb firmly positioned over all matters pertaining to art and culture. The quasi-totalitarian administration also utilizes the power of reactionary religious organizations to ensure that U.S. citizens are kept under tight control.
If history tells us anything, however, it is that such a restrictive regime cannot last forever. A resistance has been formed to speak out against the government’s oppressive intervention into its citizens’ lives. Using codes, flyers, USB drives left in restrooms across the world, spectrograms on MP3 songs, and a handful of websites, the faithful (or fanatics, depending on your point of view) are spreading their message and gathering in secret to discuss the latest salvos in their ongoing battle against The Man.
But there’s more going on here than just freedom fighters arrayed against the full tide of an overbearing and illegitimate leadership. A hand-like creature has been seen walking the desert, slipping downwards to earth from the heavens. The sightings started after a drug, Parepin, was added to the water in an effort to prevent bioterrorist attacks. Is it a hallucination? Divine intervention? The Angel of Death? Or, as clever Unfiction players recently suggested, might the Presence be a cross-temporal manifestation of the players themselves?
With speculation that this might be the latest production from 42 Entertainment, curiosity about the way the story is being told (is this a flashback hidden between clips of music, a la The Handmaid’s Tale? And how is it being transmitted back in time to 2007?) and a claim from Trent Reznor that this is not “some gimmick to get you to buy a record…this IS the art form,” which is “just getting started,” interest is high. The scheduled release of the Year Zero album is 4/17/07. Until then do not drink the water.