When I was about 12-years-old and first started to really engage with music, I found that there were sometimes spine-tingling moments in tracks. This sensation translated into other forms of Art too like literature. But now, rather depressingly, the sensation seldom occurs. Is it desensitisation or that I’m simply listening to the terrible music now? Who knows but today, the sensation raised it curious head!
Admittedly, post-rock does have a habit of conjuring emotions that don’t yet have a word to describe them. But any band that can tingle spines and stand hairs on end deserves a mention. The first time I heard of them was during a Brighton SoundScreen gig where audio and video joined in matrimony. The enigmatic duo clothed in fantastical costumes lingered in the shadows backed by thought-provoking visuals and chillingly atmospheric soundscapes.
In a way, their debut album title perfectly encapsulates their sound. A Séance of Dark Delusions introduces us with Elysian Dreams’ which carries a haunting presence that swells to explosive levels. But ‘Evolve or Perish’ shows us that Nordic Giants’ dark imagery is often a result of our polluted planet.
The planet is being destroyed all around us.
Using money to try to address that problem, you’re shooting yourself in the foot.
And it doesn’t take long for the frustration to result in aural dissonance that’s strangely reminiscent of the unnerving portions of The Beatles’ ‘A Day In The Life’. What’s surprising is how much of their murky ambience comes not from electronics but the organic sound of a piano.
Although Nordic Giants are one of those bands that must be seen live to fully appreciate their work, A Séance of Dark Delusions illustrates that sound often compliments visuals and not the other way round. Imagine all your favourite movies minus the score; the experience would be completely diluted. Nordic Giants often have that cinematic quality to their tracks – it’s orchestral and grandiose – and when you’ve got the vocals of Beth Cannon (of Written In Waters) lifting the already soaring sound of ‘Rapture’ then you’re left with something that is achingly beautiful.
What’s so enduring about this album is that Nordic Giants seem to be equally adept at being ominously thunderous and enigmatically intriguing. While ‘Rapture’ has the energy to quake mountains, ‘Illuminate’ whistles through the air like a wispy haze wondering what the barren soundscape has to offer. It’s alluringly mystical with plenty of textural layers for you to be lost in.
The aural experience that graces your ears is one of the best you’ll ever get from a debut album. And after the sensory overload, you might wonder how much more thrilling the experience could be live. But the album closer ‘A Thousand Lost Dream’ provides the best glimpse in what Nordic Giants live is like. With ethereal drones looming overhead and the omnipresent piano delivering its organic chill, it’s a track that peaks and troughs at will. But you’re never struggling to keep up. You’re just enthralled by it all. If your ears could gawp, they would.