nnord are a French ambient, soundscape project that put out their debut LP, Orbital, on June 16th through the newly founded record label, Winter Alternatives Records. nnord claim influences from bands like Sun O))) and Tangerine Dream and off the bat it’s easy to see where these influences come into play with the feel and sound of the LP. There’s a lot of work with textures and droneing going on, sometimes I even think of Solar Fields.
This is WAR’s first release on their label, so it’s important for themselves and nnord, to thrust themselves out there and although I do think Orbital does a decent enough job of this, it could be done better one.
Orbital is very much an ambient/soundscape and droney release and what makes these genres interesting, for me at least, is the textures used. nnord make fantastic use of textures in some points of this LP but I feel, that they could be infinitely more daring with their music.
There is an adventurous spirit that’s adopted on specific songs, but on the first track, which is also the longest, it’s left behind. Said first track, Arrival On The Great Plains, takes a long time to get anywhere and even when it does, it does not show nnord at their most brilliant moments. There are some pleasurable sounds on this track though, which make the slow pacing forgivable. The subtle changes in the synths at the 3min mark onward are all very pleasing, especially with headphones on.
There’s also this outro in Arrival On The Great Plains and it sounds majestic and elegant; the instruments sound powerful and, ultimately, it does make this track worth the listen.
The next track, Black Sky and Cosmic Dust, didn’t grab me either at first, until I heard something very strange; a synth that made me think, instantly, of that very plastic sounding, jelly-like synth sound from the 80’s. Now, this is something that has been used again sparingly throughout, Orbital. Again, it was this moment that broke up the slow droning of this song, which is what this project is all about; subtle surprises hidden in a thick world of noise.
This 80’s style of synthesiser is used again in Beyond The Orbital River and, my personal favourite track, The Last Bison. It works well in both of these tracks and explores a lot of new ground for nnord. At points in Beyond The Orbital River, it sounds like you could paste the track into The Terminator or possible Blade Runner and no one would bat an eyelid.
I think the song, Asteroid Tomb, does the best job of portraying nnord as an ambient act; the clean synths are incredibly satisfying and I adore the way that the track slowly evolves into a barrage of harsh noise. This track may also be the one that is spaced out and paced the best, as some of the songs feel a bit too long and could do with trimming just a spell.
The Last Bison remains my favourite song on this LP though, with its angelic synths at the beginning and the tiny little flares of something so gorgeous, I can’t put words to it. It’s also like this song is the most well thought out; everything has its place and, like Asteroid Tomb, seems well paced. It does turn around rather quickly into that 80’s movie soundtrack vibe again, but I like that and it suits nnords sound in my opinion.
nnord’s debut LP, Orbital didn’t grab me at first and I’m not sure it has yet, but there are definitely some well thought out ambient music on this record.
It’s by no means a bad LP and I’m pleased to have had the opportunity to listen to it, but I’d love to see nnord break some experimental ground; don’t be afraid of cutting things short.
Orbital is available through Bandcamp at a ‘name your price’ price and I think it’s worth your time, especially if you dig ambient and droning music.