“Feathered headdresses and cloaks suggest a spell in Game Of Thrones’ Night’s Watch…”
If there is just one thing to be taken away from a performance by Nordic Giants, it’s the comfort in knowing that scale, ambition and a sense of daring in which audio visual elements are interlocked to create a compelling form of communication are very much alive and well. As exemplified by their debut album, A Séance Of Dark Delusions, the Brighton duo are masters of the grand statement and panoramic aural sweeps that are at once sumptuous and seductive. Yet it’s here, in the live setting, that Nordic Giants truly grow in stature as their post-rock soundscapes are given an added dimension.
Nordic Giants are probably aware more than most that the sight of two blokes coaxing otherworldly sounds from a variety of instruments including bowed guitars, keyboards, trumpets and drums would make for a less than arresting experience, hence the visual stimulus. Disguised in feathered headdresses and cloaks suggesting a spell with Game Of Thrones’ Night’s Watch and immersed in the personas of Loki and Roka, the stage set is augmented by a screen that shows a number of specially commissioned films. These are visions of a dim view of humanity. Take The Last Breath that accompanies Evolve Or Perish wherein a family of scuba divers emerges from the water to discover that they’ll suffocate on the surface without their breathing apparatus before succumbing to murderous intent; or the dystopian shorts Stardust and N10N that find humans tracked, tagged and monitored.
Not that the viewpoint of Nordic Giants is entirely devoid of hope. As evidenced by the samples used throughout their pieces, humanity has the power in its own grasp to avoid the apocalyptic conclusions on offer at the back of the stage and the duo’s ability to provoke thought is to be lauded.
But there are caveats. While much preparation has evidently gone into the synchronicity between sound and vision, the feeling that the light show is an afterthought is difficult to shake. Too often strobes or beams of light serve not to enhance the set pieces but to distract from the films being shown and lessen their impact. The use of pre-recorded guest vocals has a tendency to distract from the multi-instrumental dexterity at the heart of the performance.
However, these are minor gripes and the suspicion lingers that as Nordic Giants take take bigger strides and achieve a deserved wider audience, so the production values of the show will reach maturity and fruition. This is a bold and daring vision and one that challenges as much as it entertains.