Music Reviews
Kristoffer Nystroms Orkester

Kristoffer Nystroms Orkester



It’s easy to imagine brakeHEAD being born during a post-gig improvised session by Scandinavian noise artists Peter Nystrom and Kristoffer Oustad. The sounds generated throughout the album’s four tracks are nervy and frazzled, the result of too much narcotics consumption, but they all also inevitably give way to the calm fade of a new day breaking and sleep following. It’s an odd combination of sounds, and it makes for a very compelling listen. The disc opens with “biTer,” which feels like a field recording of after hours at a foundry. Sinister metallic assaults and spooky synth undercurrents haunt every rusted second of this track, careening through the metalworks at an unstoppable gait. It’s worthy of soundtracking the climax scene of The Terminator.

“high_level_input_slow_speed_output” is introduced by blistering white noise and a complete lack of melody. Only a chugging rhythmic pulse beating deep below the surface keeps it remotely in the realm of song. A slow fades into silence and arrhythmic clanks of metal on metal usher the track out.

The album’s 19-minute centerpiece, “exenDEAD konnektion,” is perfectly in keeping with the 1980s horror film soundtrack theme the duo has pushed on the first two tracks. Oscillating synths and low rumbles of aggressive guitar noise interact with a variety of spooky effects thrown into the mix while voice samples thread quietly though the noise. The voices continue on “asphalt flowers” where heavy echo and an ominous, sustained chord cuts through the molten effluence left clinging to this track after it’s been scoured clean.

Although it’s bound to be borderline unlistenable to most of the public, brakeHEAD is what contemporary industrial music should aspire to reach. It’s frightening, abrasive, despondent and in some ways surprisingly calming. It’s music that feels comfortable with the image of dark surroundings and black leather, but is far from being defined by the genre’s stereotypes.

Malignant Records:

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