How to Destroy AngelsAn omen EP is my favorite release on Columbia Records in years, if not decades. It’s the major-label debut release by Trent Reznor’s latest project, and it reveals a musician who’s retreating from Nine Inch Nails’ more bombastic, demonstrative proclivities and into more interiorized, subtle explorations of sonic and lyrical expression.

“Ice Age” foregrounds delicate string plucking (a dulcimer, I think) and thumb piano and vocalist Mariqueen Maandig’s smooth, refined, folk-pop inflections over subliminally tense, metallic drones that intensify as the song progresses. The restraint suits Reznor well and the tune is very hypnotic and pretty (no hate machine). The entire EP is solid, too. I, for one, did not expect to like a Trent Reznor-dominated release this much in 2012.