Here’s a throwback to 2008. Nine Inch Nails released an album under a Creative Commons license, originally intending it to be a short EP but ending up with 36 unplanned instrumental tracks. They entitled the collection Ghosts I-IV and gave it away. For free.
The music goes everywhere from beatless ambient and minimal electronic downtempo, all the way to the abrasive industrial sound the band is known for (though perhaps with abrasiveness dialed down to 9). It’s a perfect headphone listen, veering from introspective to wild abandon. The freedom from artistic boundaries equates to a breathable, liquid joy in this collection of vocal-less tracks.
The beauty of creating music with no set parameters is: you let go and let your subconscious figure it out on its own. The structure, the direction, the chord changes, the tempo. When you’re released from defined structures (and a rigid marketing campaign), you’re free to do anything. While such a blank canvas is often scary for artists, it proved to be a fertile foundation for Trent Reznor and his collaborators.
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.”
Also: since it’s under this Creative Commons license, that means bedroom recording artists are free to use and reuse these tracks for their own projects. As long as they’re non-commercial e.g. you don’t sell the music you make with these instrumentals.
If you haven’t yet, download the album and drown in the freedom: https://archive.org/details/nineinchnails_ghosts_I_IV
Direct Download (267 MB ZIP file) containing MP3s encoded at 320 kbps.