In 1996 legendary developer id Software released Quake. The game borrowed the first person shooter mechanics introduced in Wolfenstein, perfected in Doom and lampooned in Duke Nukem 3D and injected imagery and stylistic flourishes from H.P. Lovecraft's Cthulu mythos. The dark and menacing world conjured in the game was brought to life with an original soundtrack by Trent Reznor of Nine Inch Nails (NIN) acclaim. It represented Reznor's first soundtrack work and he would later win an Oscar for his work alongside Atticus Ross (the recently announced second member of NIN!) on The Social Network soundtrack. The Quake soundtrack is important becuase it set a precedent for well respected experimental artists lending soundtrack work to major games. David Bowie would follow suit a few years later for his work on Omikron: The Nomad Soul. More recently The Alchemist, Oh No and Tangerine Dream collaborated with Woody Jackson and Dj Shadow on the soundtrack for Grand Theft Auto 5.
The Quake soundtrack is being remastered for re-release this year and will be available on streaming services soon. I thought that while we wait we might revisit some other great NIN tracks that have appeared on games. I was torn between The Hand that Feeds from 2007s Rockband or Discipline from Rockstar Games' 2008 racer Midnight Club: Los Angeles. I eventually came down on Discipline not because one song is better than another but I've got a song from Guitar Hero 2 lined up for the playlist soon and I'd rather not choose too many tracks from music simulators. That feels like cheating. Discipline opens with a straight ahead drum pattern from Josh Freese before Robin Finck's trademark guitar weirdness floods the track. From there the bass lifts the track to meet Reznor's vocals while Allesandro Cortini's synth swells and piano phrases weave in and out of the track. It's basically a Disco song reminiscent of Pretty Hate Machine but with that gritty digital sound that NIN developed post-The Fragile. Discipline featured on The Slip which was released for free as a kind of thank you note to NIN fans in the summer of 2008 and has been a favorite of mine ever since.