Describing their genre as ‘Claustrophobic Cinema Clatter’, the Nordic Giants live show is an immersive theatre experience. It sees the multi-instrumental Brighton duo provide the live soundtrack to a collection of short films, utilising atmospheric soundscapes, thunderous drums, bowed guitar, piano, electronics and a lovely bit of trumpet, as well as strobes to create an all encapsulating work of art.
This past week in Manchester was my first Nordic Giants live experience, though I did have the chance to catch them performing at ArcTanGent in 2014, but when we arrived, the tent was rammed. With what I could gather at the time from the brief glimpse I caught, it appeared seeing them live would be more preferable in a smaller, much more intimate venue. Lucky then that Nordic Giants have just been out on a UK Headline tour! Taking in seven dates across the country, I was able to catch them Tuesday night at the wonderful Deaf Institute.
I’ve heard the Nordic Giants live show being akin to a religious experience, and whilst I wouldn’t go that far, it is captivating from start to finish. The thing that immediately strikes you about the pair is their appearance. Shrouded in darkness and smoke, when you do catch a glimpse of them, they’re masked, covered in feathers and dressed in a very tribal way – like an up to date Wicker Man. Whilst one sits at the piano throughout the evening, the other spends his time between using a bow against a guitar and creating a booming sound on the drums.
A lot of the songs played on the evening are from their debut album ‘A Séance Of Dark Delusions’, released last month. As well as their own expansive, gorgeous arrangements, Nordic Giants have also enlisted the help of vocal talents such as Saturday Sun (on ‘Dissolve’), Nadine Wild Palmer (on ‘Futures Dark’), and Beth Cannon (on ‘Rapture’), the latter appearing in the live version of short film released for the song. Rapture is a brilliant, intriguing tale and a cinematic masterpiece, directed, edited and self-produced by Nordic Giants. The track is tremendously dramatic, with the soaring vocals reaching almost Bjork/Kate Bush levels at points.
Handpicked, award winning short films are played throughout the evening, with a post-apocalyptic theme running throughout. Some are humorous, others are peculiar and some are just jaw-dropping in story, but all are fantastic and remain in the consciousness long after the credits. One short is a brilliant slapstick animation that sees a pair of pallbearer’s transporting a coffin containing an old biddy across a treacherous landscape by foot, whilst another shows a gun-crazed dystopian city where horrible things are right around the corner. One of the shorts that really caught my eye was ‘The Last Breath’ by David Jackson, a film that follows a family on a scuba diving trip, who discover once they’ve emerged from the lake that earth’s air supply appears to have run out. It’s an incredible bit of storytelling. It also made me chuckle in that it features that geezer from Peep Show who played The Orgazoid! These shorts are really bought to life through the accompanying soundtrack from Nordic Giants, and they really develop on the original stories, creating their own in the process and making the pieces even more jarring. So jarring in fact, that a lot of the time people didn’t know when to clap, being so transfixed on the experience.
Much like how cinema audiences sometimes leave a screening in silence, in awe of the picture they’ve seen, the audience that evening at Deaf Institute was pretty much the same. After the applause had died down, the lights slowly came up and everyone filtered out – thoughts fixed on what they’d just seen. The Nordic Giants live show really is something else and certainly one to check out if you’ve not seen it before. Their album A Séance Of Dark Delusions is a masterful piece of work, and can even be purchased with a DVD that features their digital mapping work and extra digital content. For a taste of what Nordic Giants are all about and for information on their new album, head to the band’s website here.