Kristoffer Nystroms Orkester – Overlook Hotel

Kristoffer Nystroms Orkester - Overlook Hotel

LP, Malignant Records, 2011
www.myspace.com/knoprojekt

“Overlook Hotel” is the new LP from Kristoffer Nystroms Orkester (a joint project of Peter Nystrom, of Megaptera, and Kristoffer Oustad of V:28). It’s been a while since I’ve heard their debut, but I recall it being pretty solid industrial/noise, rather towards the abrasive side. “Overlook Hotel” is another adventure into industrial/noise/experimental territory, though with significantly more emphasis on atmospherics and subdued, ghostly moods.
The A-side of the record opens with the disposable intro track “The Colorado Lounge” and then hits you full-force on “The Broom Closet”. This second track is one of my favorites on the album, as it perfectly blends pounding industrial percussion, weird creepy noise(s), and haunting atmospheres. Makes me wonder what the hell the broom closet was used for! The song is quite diverse and flows through many different sections before its completion. This is what industrial should sound like!
Oddly, the rest of the album is generally concentrated more towards the ambient end of the spectrum. Tracks like “The Gold Ballroom”, “The Green Room” and “The Meat Room” are mainly droning pieces with bits of percussion, field samples, or similar. All have a genuinely gritty, disturbing feel to them, akin to Megaptera (with better production). These are deep soundscapes that truly bring you the cold, antiquated eeriness of an old, dilapidated building. Even though there are bits of harsh noise, unsettling spoken samples or peculiar noises, it’s never overly abrasive or pointless; all the elements work in tandem to further manifest the innards of this otherworldly edifice.
“The Red Room” is the only other heavy industrial song, and it, too, is a driving piece that is furnished with the great hallmarks of the genre. KNO’s strength comes from their ability to write interesting, multi-layered tracks that evolve throughout their duration and keep the listening experience fresh as the track/album progresses – all the while focusing on bringing to life the world within the Overlook Hotel.
The only thing I don’t like about the album is the inclusion of a few short pieces (The aforementioned intro, “The Restaurant” and “The Staircase”) which are basically just spoken word samples and maybe a drone; these don’t go anywhere and don’t particularly add anything to the album. At least they’re short enough so that they don’t detract, either. Speaking of short, at just over 40 minutes, this album is too brief and I wish it were longer. Much longer.
As a whole, this is one of the better albums I have heard this year and a great find for those who enjoy industrial/ambient. Unfortunately, it seems to be a vinyl-only release at this time, but hopefully there will be a CD or digital release for those of us who don’t have turntables. It would really be a shame to miss this! Hopefully there is much more to come from this project in the future!

[9/10]

— Dan Barrett