It’s difficult to know where to start with Nordic Giants. Their multidimensional post-rock soundscapes are audacious to say the least, but leaving the venue after they’ve played leaves the sensation that you’ve had your head in a tumble dryer for the last two hours.
Loki and Roka are on the second date of their 7 Depths Of Consciousness tour, playing tonight in East London’s trendy Hoxton Hall, a Grade II listed Victorian music hall. The musty dark-wood surrounding is perfect for an audio-visual performance that soundtracks new material from A Séance Of Dark Delusions and a bunch of older tunes, occasionally remixed. They’re set against a screen showing short films, all of which allude to an earnest socio-political statement about the state of the world. On top of this, Loki and Roka are dressed in black-feathered headdresses and warrior chest plates. It’s a lot to take in… almost too much.
One hour later than the stated stage time, they arrive and take their seats in the shadows, Loki on keys and Roka on drums. The massive screen that hangs over the stage reads “We are all made of stardust” as the titles scroll across the display. To the sounds of The Seed, an animated film begins exhibiting images of spiky-looking undertakers carrying a coffin across troublesome terrain.
It’s a multi-sensory experience, but for all the incredible films on offer, it’s hard not to fixate on the duo and their plumage, particularly when Roka comes to the front of the stage to play bowed guitar under an eerie red spotlight.
Every second of their sound syncs perfectly with the visuals on screen. At times it’s uplifting, at others mournful, nihilistic, defiant or downright depressing, but always packing a punch. We only hear (recorded) vocals on Shine and Little Bird; otherwise the set is strewn with spoken-word samples offering cynical, hopeless or reassuring monologues, while on screen there are images of violence, urban deterioration, epic nature, global catastrophe and the outer cosmos.
During Dark Clouds Mean War, the apocalyptic vignettes on screen enhance the sense of painful existentialism, but the instrumentation doesn’t have a chance to shine through. Still, nothing can take away from the complexity and sheer intensity of these enveloping soundscapes.