Posts Tagged ‘Nordic Giants’

4th February 2022

Christopher Nosnibor

Nordic Giants are one of those acts who seem to exist almost mythically. Listening to their recordings, watching their visuals, even witnessing their live shows, does little to render them any more concrete or real. The duo go by the names Loki and Rôka, but beyond that, we know nothing. That they have managed to remain so shrouded in mystery is a remarkable achievement, especially in the Internet age. In doing so, they remind us of so much of what is missing in contemporary culture. Celebrities used to be distanced, unobtainable, out of reach, while underground acts were entirely obscure. It was possible to control the limits of what was in the public domain, by means of mailed or faxed press releases. Any kind of presence was optional, as radio play and word of mouth did the job of promotion. Times have changed, expectations have changed, and not necessarily for the better. Artists are expected to be so much more public now, buy to what benefit, ultimately?

Kudos, then, to Nordic Giants for being Nordic Giants, and doing what they do on their own terms. Symbiosis follows their debut album, A Sèance of Dark Delusions (2015) and their documentary / soundtrack project, Amplify Human Vibration (2017), and as such, it’s been a fair time in coming. So much so, that one worries how things will stand up in a contemporary context. A fair few bands making their post-lockdown return haven’t fared so well, largely because they still sound like their old selves – and times have changed, life had moved on. There may be nostalgia for the old times., but… we don’t need to relive the past times. This is not the early 00’s heyday of post-rock.

But Nordic Giants exist in their open space, and their own time.

According to the accompanying blurb, ‘Symbiosis represents the interdependent relationship of all life. The union and blending of polar opposites, the harmony created when two different elements combine, not just in nature or in a philosophical sense, but at the root creative level… This collection of songs blends light with dark, moments of ambience with power and the subtle with the mysterious – themes that Nordic Giants continue to experiment with extensively over the years.’

The first track, ‘Philosophy of Mind’ comprises many features typical to Nordic Giants: heraldic horns, vocal samples, resonant bass and rolling drums, depth, layers, atmosphere. It’s a mesmerising piece, spacious, moody. Rene Descartes’ famed quote (in translation) ‘I think, therefore I am’ echoes over the lilting piano, ahead of a roiling crescendo, and the closing couple of minutes grow in tension And scale. This is classic Nordic Giants, and the album progresses neatly from here. It may not present may serious surprises, but it does present a succession of immaculately-conceived and perfectly executed compositions, from the driving ‘Anamorphia’ to the supple, subtle melody of ‘Hjem’.

The featuring of guest vocalists – Alex Hedley on the expansive ‘Faceless’ and Freyja on ‘Spheres’, with its delicate, poised atmosphere and cinematic sound – add to the diversity of sound and also the stylistic range of Symbiosis, an album that really reaches deep into the emotional space. It’s lusciously-produced, but at the same time poignant, and you ache on hearing the soaring strings and the nagging piano trills. There are moments of ambience, of mind-sprawling semi-ambience, and of absolute magnificence.

Symbiosis is dateless, ageless, marvellous.

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South London duo VLMV (FKA Alma) have announced their new album ‘Stranded, Not Lost’ will be released on Fierce Panda on the 16th Feb.

They’ve shared this exciting news with new music in the form of beautiful single ‘All These Ghosts’ with an accompanying live video shot at The Nave in Leeds.

VLMV is made up of Pete Lambrou of Codes In The Clouds & Monsters Build Mean Robots and Ciaran Morahan, also of Codes In The Clouds. They’ve describe themselves as "ambient-ish, post-something” their music is beautiful and spacious ambient post-rock.

‘Stranded, Not Lost’ is a gorgeous and moving record replete with the kind of brooding, ambient soundscapes, soaring vocals and crashing intensity that have earned the band a small legion of dedicated fans and recent tours supporting the likes of post-rock stalwarts Nordic Giants.

You can see the video for ‘All These Ghosts’ here:

‘Taxonomy Of Illusions’ is the opening track to Amplify Human Vibration, a full length soundtrack from Brighton cinematic post-rock duo Nordic Giants.

Amplify Human Vibration is the soundtrack to an upcoming short film, directed by the duo, that hopes to shed a positive light on the everyday world we live in. The crowd-funded film will be proceeded by the soundtrack, released on CD & Vinyl with the film given away online for free at a later date. The opening track of the soundtrack, ‘The Taxonomy of Illusions’ is named after and features a speech given by Terence McKenna at UC Berkeley in 1993.

“This opening track highlights some of the great illusions most of us have unwillingly accepted as our reality. The toxic consequences are now clear for everyone to see, so its really up to us to face our issues -not tomorrow, but today! The message of this song is not to create any more fear or negativity but to help realise our problems so we can empower ourselves and step out from this illusion/delusion we are living in,” say the band.

Listen here:

Amplify Human Vibration  is released on October 22nd.

Nordic

Christopher Nosnibor

Having only recently found TesseracT on my radar through their latest album, Polaris, which is vast in its ambition and the scope of its realisation, I arrived with no real knowledge of their back catalogue, or what to expect from a live show. I realise, on arriving well after doors to find a queue halfway down the Brudenell’s car park on a soggy Sunday night, I’d also no real idea of their popularity.

The crowd are unexpectedly hip; lots of dudes with beards and plaid shirt, but then, also multitudinous hoodies and gothy / metal chicks. I’m 40 and very much in the older minority – along with the guy in the Europe T-shirt, who must have at least 10 years and 5 stone on me. I say unexpectedly, because the meaning of the band’s name perhaps gives a fair indication of what the Milton Keynes quintet are about, and their progressive / mathematical inclinations: ‘In geometry, the tesseract is the four-dimensional analog of the cube; the tesseract is to the cube as the cube is to the square. Just as the surface of the cube consists of six square faces, the hypersurface of the tesseract consists of eight cubical cells. The tesseract is one of the six convex regular 4-polytopes.’

Is prog cool now? The one thing to be clear on here is that progressive rock has, in fact, progressed. The new breed – the neo-prog brigade, if you will – are a world away from the indulgence of the likes of Yes, ELP, early Genesis. Tonight’s lineup places the emphasis very strongly on the rock element, and it’s perhaps too not difficult to unravel the appeal of music that’s cerebral and articulate, but packs a real punch at the same time.

I only catch a fleeting glimpse of Nordic Giants, but it’s enough to remind me of what a spellbinding live act they are. Resonant bass and rolling piano fill the room while the feathered duo play before a backdrop of dramatic visuals which accentuate the cinematic qualities of their expansive progressive / post-rock instrumentals.

I usually do a spot of research into the support acts prior to turning up to review bands, but The Contortionist are a completely unknown quantity to me – and I’m clearly in the minority. But then, the fact a band from Indianapolis of some considerable standing are supporting a UK band around Europe is in itself quite a deal. And they’re certainly not slack as a live act.

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The Contortionist

While they’re very much a technical band, with intricate guitar parts defining their sound, they’re paired with a thunderous bass sound that’s pure metal – and corresponds with the preponderance of beards and leather jackets on display. When they go for the heavy, The Contortionist do heavy, and there are many epic chug sections propelled by some powerful double-stroke kick drumming during the course of their 45-minute set. As impressive as the music is, I’m also impressed by vocalist Mike Lessard’s vascular arms. At times, it does feel a shade pompous and that there’s a lack of engagement between band and audience, but I don’t see any of those pressed into the front rows complaining.

Some may argue that TesseracT aren’t so much a prog act as exponents of djent, or at least exemplars of the bands who emerged from the microgenre which itself grew out of progressive metal in the wake of bands like Meshuggah and Sikth. The point is, it’s heavily technical, and yes, a bit muso – the stage is cluttered with eight-string guitars and five and six-string basses, which are used to create some of the most bewilderingly complex music, both in terms of notation and time signatures, not to mention the tempo changes and dynamic leaps between the multiple sections of each song. But they sure as hell know how to let rip in the riffage stakes, too.

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TesseracT

Benefiting from a big lighting rig to illuminate their vast arena sound, they perform like an arena band, and pull out all the stops. Daniel Tompkins’ return to the fold has clearly had an impact on both the sound and the style of the performance: he spends the set at the front, leaning over the crowd and projecting, while switching effortlessly between thick, throaty vocals and a clean, melodic range. They manage to lift a fair chunk of their debut album, while also fairly representing both Altered State and Polaris – as you might expect from a set that runs for around an hour and a half, and much to the delight of the packed-out audience.

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TesseracT

Again, there are times when I feel the rock posturing actually builds a significant separation between band and audience, who standm rapt, as Tompkins postures and powers his way through the songs. But then, I see just how happy everyone is. It may be a 450-capacity venue, but it feels like an arena show. TesseracT play like they’re rock deities, and the audience respond in kind. And that’s cool. Certain bands require a degree of inaccessibility, of otherness to really work, and that’s very much the case with TesseracT. They’re a band with big ideas, a big sound, a big lighting rig and some big tunes, and they pull the whole deal off with aplomb.