“A sonic makeover more befitting of the inscrutable duo’s recent work”: Nordic Giants revisit their past on Origins

Post-rock duo Rôka and Löki reshape their earliest tracks ahead of all-new album’s arrival

Nordic Giants - Origins
(Image: © Nice Weather For Airstrikes)

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Ahead of a new studio album slated for September, Nordic Giants have decided to undertake a little housekeeping, reshaping the earliest songs from their catalogue. Origins revisits 2010’s debut EP A Tree As Old As Me, plus both sides of standalone singles Shine and Speed The Crow’s Nest, alongside the epic Dark Clouds Mean War.

All of these tracks predate the self-styled “claustrophobic cinema clutter” of their first album, 2015’s A Séance Of Dark Delusions, prompting a sonic makeover more befitting of the inscrutable duo’s recent work.

Freshly recorded guitars, piano, synths, drums and strings give these songs a greater dynamic range – and a crisper, cleaner fidelity – that serve to bridge the furthest extremes of the Giants’ sound.

Huge, dramatic swells heighten the urgency of opening cut Together, which uses samples from key Martin Luther King speeches, particularly 1967’s ‘Beyond Vietnam’ address. An intense ride, the music underscores society’s need for ‘a radical revolution of values’ and the imminent peril of being ‘dragged down the long, dark and shameful corridors of time reserved for those who possess power without compassion, might without morality, and strength without sight.’

It’s a call to humanity, and a quest for moral conviction, that still resonates, of course. And one that the Giants would repeat on A Séance Of Dark Delusions – whose similarly-pointed Spirit also samples MLK.

Nordic Giants - Through A Lens Darkly - Re-Recorded / Re-Mastered 2024 (From 'Origins') - YouTube Nordic Giants - Through A Lens Darkly - Re-Recorded / Re-Mastered 2024 (From 'Origins') - YouTube
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By contrast, Rod Steiger’s impassioned turn as Napoleon in 1970’s Waterloo, making his abdication speech to the Old Guard at Fontainebleau, forms the spine of Dark Clouds Mean War. It’s a brilliantly-measured piece, with Rôka and Löki building the musical drama with piano and synths, gradually rising into something symphonic.

As Steiger becomes more histrionic, screaming “Remember me!” a great fanfare crashes around him, finally subsiding into the faded echo of a man broken by his own hubris. Like Sigur Rós or This Will Destroy You, it’s further proof that Nordic Giants are capable of stirring the emotions at a visceral level.

Further proof that Nordic Giants are capable of stirring the emotions at a visceral level

There’s plenty of subtlety here too. The rippling piano that ushers in Jake Reid’s faintly sinister guest turn on The Seed is delicacy itself, embellished with minimal snare rolls. Regular collaborator Freyja is fittingly Liz Fraser-like on the Cocteau Twins glow of Glass Skinned Girl, a violin peeking through its ambient haze.

We are stars/Trapped inside skin and bone,’ sings Cate Ferris on Shine, which expands into a thundering rock epiphany, her voice mutating from gentle incantation to quasi-religious rapture, the whole thing serving as a perfect illustration of the Giants’ mighty aesthetic.

Origins is on sale now via Nice Weather For Airstrikes.

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.