Ever since Mr. Reznor did the sound for Quake (the first game I remember actually screaming out loud at out of fright), and really ever since I heard my first NIN record, I've known he could be...dark. But the marketing that's beginning to swell around NIN's Year Zero (out 4/17/07) is some of the creepiest/awesommest shit I have ever seen/read/heard.
What you need to know, I guess, is that Year Zero takes place in a not-so-distant future, in which the American government has taken some extreme measures in the name of freedom and security. See iamtryingtobelieve.com and artisresistance.com to get a sense of what I'm talking about here.
What's cool about this isn't the post-apocalyptic it-can-happen-here thing (okay, that's cool too). It's the way all this is slowly coming together, and how much planning must have gone into it ahead of time. iamtryingtobelieve.com was discovered as a result of some highlighted letters on an overseas tour t-shirt. And then there was a USB thumbdrive discovered in a bathroom at a show containing a song and a strange .mp3 file that sounded like crickets until it was passed through a spectograph analyzer to reveal a phone number: 1-216-333-1810. Call it (be warned, it's extremely disturbing). And from there, head on to uswiretap.com/71839j/ for more insanity.
Imagine putting all this together. Trusting your fans enough to analyze a sound file to get that phone number (okay, so maybe you could have given them hints if they didn't figure it out on their own). I have never seen or heard of anybody promoting a record quite like this.
I've referred you here to a few things. Over at ninwiki.com, they have a much more complete account and more legible transcripts of these pages. I encourage you, fan of NIN or not, to check it out.
In other news, NIN has a DVD out very soon of last year's tour, which I caught and somehow failed to blog about. Probably too late now to rave about it, but believe me when I tell you that this will be worth a netflix'ing.