Around 18 months ago, Trent Reznor started working on new songs for a Nine Inch Nails greatest-hits set. But he discovered he had more than just a few tracks in him. He thought hard about what was exciting him musically: "Is it rock bands and guitars, is it noise, is it dance beats and electronics?" Reznor recalls.
Working mostly on a laptop attached to a "drum-machine type of compositional tool," Reznor crafted foreboding electronic textures reminiscent of his recent soundtrack work, although he says 1994's The Downward Spiral was a deliberate touchstone. One thing nobody could have predicted? A cameo by Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham, who adds guitar to three songs. Says Reznor, "I thought his style might be so out it would be in, compared to the alien landscapes we were dropping him into."