In an intriguing development, two musical institutions representing seemingly opposing ends of the industry have announced they will join forces.

Enigmatic industry outsider Trent Reznor –  famed for his work as primary member of Nine Inch Nails, constant and widespread collaboration with artists ranging from El-P to Maynard Keenan, producer of artists such as Marilyn Manson and Jane’s Addiction, and Oscar-winning film-scorer for David Fincher – can now add yet another feature to his already extensive resume.

Reznor has let slip, over his Facebook page, that he is currently working with rapidly expanding electronics company, Beats By Dre, on “a number of interesting projects.”

Asserting that he will not simply be attaching his name to a new range of trendsetting audio accessories, Reznor has described the process of working with Beats’ Dre, Jimmy Iovine and Luke Wood as “challenging and fascinating,” and assures his fans that the secretive project is “not what you’re expecting.”

Whatever the end result, one can be assured that Reznor will be pushing boundaries and thrusting the company into previously unconquered territory.

The audio company, founded by hip-hop legend Dr. Dre and record producer Jimmy Iovine, has taken consumers by storm as their celebrity endorsed cans have become the hottest accessory in the musical world, with Dr. Dre, Lady Gaga, and even basketballer LeBron James lending their namesake to signature headphone models.[do action=”pullquote”]I’d like to tell you about the things we’ve dreamed up… I just can’t. Not yet…[/do]

Accused by some as an exercise in marketing and publicity, and lauded by others as audiophile nirvana, the corporate entity is not the kind of collaborator Reznor would typically be expected to associate with. Despite being recognised for generally grinding against the grain of the musical mainstream, Reznor attested that working with Beats has afforded him opportunity to “experiment and focus [his] energy and creativity in some different directions.”

This news comes off the heels of Reznor also announcing that he will return to a major label for distribution of his music for the first time since Nine Inch Nails’ 2007 release Year Zero. Reznor announced over the weekend that the distribution of his new project How To Destroy Angels’ upcoming EP and LP will be handled by Columbia Records.

As Exclaim points out, the NIN linchpin has credited the lack of exposure whilst distributing independently as the deciding factor for the move, Reznor explained, “it really comes down to us experimenting and trying new things to see what best serves our needs. Complete independent releasing has its great points but also comes with shortcomings.”

Having experimented with the traditional music distribution models, Nine Inch Nails released Ghosts I-IV and The Slip over the Internet for free in 2008, before Reznor took a hiatus to work on his critically acclaimed film scores with Atticus Ross for The Social Network and The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo.

How To Destroy Angels will be Reznor’s return to the industry proper and he has described the experience of working with the majors again as being ”pleasantly pleasant, having people that actually kind of know what they’re talking about, having a team — it’s been nice.”

Paired with the fact that Reznor has also penned the main theme for the latest release of the figurehead videogame cash-cow franchise Call of Duty, it seems as though he has patched up his contentious relationship with big business.

However, expanding laterally in ways no one can predict, Reznor still seems intent on breaking down boundaries, stamping his vital and unconventional approach across an increasingly diverse range of projects. His involvement in any project promises innovation, and the approaching months assure plenty of output from the legendary counter-culture icon.

In related news, Beats has signalled their expansion beyond simply developing high-end audio accessories, announcing that they had recently bought out the MOG Internet streaming service, as well as integrating “Beats technology” into laptops and smartphones.

A diversion from the headphones that initially made the brand so marketable, the possibilities of Reznor’s involvement are seemingly endless, as he teases his legions of fans with the news that “I’d like to tell you about the things we’ve dreamed up… I just can’t. Not yet…”