Last time we heard from the duo of legendary Swedish industrial artist Peter Nystrom (Megaptera, Negru Voda) and Kristoffer Oustad from the industrial avant-black metal band V:28 was on the brakeHEAD album back in 2006. For their latest, the Kristoffer Nystroms Orkester returns with a darker, creepier sound and an obsession with the floor plan of the fictional hotel from Stephen King's The Shining. Compared to the grinding industrial of the previous disc, Overlook Hotel works on more of a psychological level, evoking dread and emptiness over and over again as the listener passes through each track.
Beginning with an eerie looped female vocal, the record takes shape slowly as deep pulsating electronics and abstract rhythmic sounds fade in and form into a hypnotic electrical field of black energy, the sound evolving into a swarming static-flecked drone before suddenly breaking into a heavy mechanical rhythm on "The Colorado Lounge", an almost breakbeat-like rhythm pounding beneath the trails of ominous minor key creep and abrasive noisy textures. From the start, this is the most cinematic sounding music that I've heard from KNO, the blend of hazy dark ambience and machine-like rhythm sounding like it could work exceedingly well as a film score. When conjuring images of this notorious site (best known of course as the evil sentient ski resort from Stephen King's The Shining, though you won't find any direct references to that book here), though, this inhabits a strange surreal dreamworld, consistently threatening and filled with a sense of lurking dread, but the washes of cloudy metallic drone and richly layered synthesizer drift and metallic percussion often take the album into a kind of surreal nocturnal terrain that's closer to Hoor-Paar-Kraat than the relentlessly horrific death industrial of Nystrom's work with Megaptera. Some of the tracks on the album move into a kind of minimal haunted techno pulse that reminds me of the black electronic Kompakt-like moves of some of Nordvargr's material, but then break down into the sound of distant chains being dragged and rustled amid deep ambient drones. Other songs deliver jackhammer blasts of industrial drumming that wouldn't sound out of place on a Ministry album, volleys of crushing wall-shaking percussion pounding away incessantly beneath fields of evil voice samples and electronics. There's moments of pure horror to be found here as well though, in the blasts of smoldering MZ.412-esque industrial and creaking factory death-marches that come into view in the last third of the record, and the closing symphonic swells of unearthly horns and wavering drones on "The Dormer". If you're a fan of Nystrom's other projects, this is very highly recommended. Released as both a digipack Cd and a limited-edition Lp in an edition of 217 copies.