Nordic Giants: A Seance Of Dark Delusions

Arresting debut from this shady post-rock duo.

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The trouble with so much ambient rock is that it often seems too thin to sustain itself, let alone the listener. Nordic Giants, however, have no such problem.

Theirs is the kind of full-bodied, tactile experience that gusts around your ears rather than lulls you into soporific drift. Like Mogwai or Godspeed You! Black Emperor, they’re capable of creating shuddering towers of noise and more abstract passages, the latter serving as temporary shelter from the former.

So who are they? Truth be told, it’s hard to say. The enigmatic twosome prefer to keep their identities largely under wraps, save for the fact that they trade as Roka Skuld and Loki and that Brighton is their most recent base of operations. With a similar sense of economy, they describe their music as “claustrophobic cinema clatter.”

What’s perhaps most intriguing is Nordic Giants’ wholesale immersion in this non-personality cult. On stage they wear feathered masks, body paint and animal skins – like a slimmed-down version of Swedish collective Goat, or a Fellini version of _Horrible Histories _– and play to a backdrop of illustrative short films. As an audio-visual encounter, it’s pretty unique.

A Séance Of Dark Delusions doesn’t come with the readymade visuals, but that’s not to say it doesn’t fire the optic nerves. The album is a bold, imagistic panorama of textures, rhythms and volume. Aside from a quartet of guest vocalists, there are extended samples from two very different, impassioned speeches that address us all.

Evolve Or Perish takes its title from a recent US documentary (Apocalypse, Man) in which conspiracy theorist Michael C. Ruppert predicts that mankind will only start to evolve when faced with its own destruction. It’s a raw tirade whose air of desperation is echoed in the unrelenting build of the music around it, as if in preparation for some terrible storm. (Ruppert, it transpires, shot himself last year.)

The other tract, during Spirit, is taken from Martin Luther King’s famous anti-Vietnam rhetoric of 1967. Both songs serve as the album’s political and moral conscience, framed by music that roars and falls, shrieks and caresses. Regular guest Freyja excels on Give Flight To The Imagination, while Futures Dark and Dissolve gather steam and boil into great sensory pieces overloaded with pounding drums, huge synths and the vocal incantations of, respectively, Nadine Wild-Palmer and Alex Hedley. As befits their name, Nordic Giants’ debut has genuine, dramatic presence.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.