Nordic Giants take to the stage at the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow.
Nordic Giants are a musical and visual phenomenon, who defy any form of easy categorisation. Tonight, they are playing the Centre for Contemporary Arts (CCA) in Glasgow. The CCA is a mixed media arts centre, which hosts exhibitions, films, music, and literature, and feels to be the ideal setting for what is to come.
Nordic Giants come on stage, accompanied by an animated film providing portraits of various wildlife, projected on a giant screen behind them. At a Nordic Giants event, a description of the stage set up is required to do full justice to their unique combination of sound and visuals. Stage left is Loki with a keyboards set up and trumpet, and on stage right is Rôka, who alternates between a drum kit and bowed guitar. Both are dressed enigmatically in feather costumes and head coverings and bathed in green and red lighting.
Behind them films are projected onto a giant screen, with each piece of music accompanied by a unique film narrative. At the front of the stage is a television type screen, that either mirrors the films shown or shows something distinctly different. In other words, this is a fully integrated audio-visual experience, that is unlike any other group of musicians you will see live.
Nordic Giants commence their set with Philosophy of Mind, the opening track from the recently released Symbiosis album. From a gentle introduction, the music ascends inexorably towards a rush of epic keyboards and thumping drums, accompanied by an animated film, that ranges across the themes of war, the insatiable appetite for profits, and the internalising of control. It is a piece that also has moments of quite beautiful, dreamy piano, interspersed with majestic drum fills.
Through A Lens Darkly from the A Tree As Old As Me EP, accompanies a chilling film The Last Breath. The plaintive piano melody and the atmospheric bowed guitar contrast with the disturbing fictional scenes of people dying from something mysterious in the air and a family turning against each other in the scramble to survive. Loki’s trumpet phrases create a musical sense of tragedy and sadness. The lighting of myriad reds and greens seem to bathe the musicians in melancholy.
Illuminate from the A Séance Of Dark Delusions album illustrates the contrasting elements that make up the Nordic Giants sound. It has a very poignant lament feel, which evolves into a danceable rhythm, with crashing cymbals. The film This Way Up that goes with the music has an episodic and gothic nightmarish quality. You soon notice that after each performance of a track ends, there is a pause, as the audience seem to take a moment to process what they have experienced, and then the appreciative applause starts.
Later in this remarkable set, Evolve or Perish also from the A Séance Of Dark Delusions album, brings to the fore another side of Nordic Giants. It is a hypnotic piece that brings together Tangerine Dream like rumbling electronic sounds, with clattering drums, and very lush rising cinematic sounds. The accompanying film sequence projects matching images of a dystopian nightmare.
Another piece from the A Tree As Old As Me EP, The Seed, features a stunning taped vocal by Jake Reid, with images of the vocal on the screen in front of the musicians, while insect like images fill the screen behind them. It contains perhaps Nordic Giants most romantic of melodies. Spheres, from the Symbiosis album, features the taped vocals of regular guest vocalist Freyja. It is a superb room filling vocal and Loki and Rôka’s almost operatic musical accompaniment perfectly fits the sense of yearning conveyed by Freyja’s vocal.
The track Together, is where Nordic Giants hit a metal like groove, that engenders some gentle head-banging by the audience. It feels important to note here that Nordic Giants deservedly have a significant following in the metal community. A musical community who took Nordic Giants’ audio/visual experimentation to their hearts very early on.
When the concert comes to an end, Loki and Rôka, rather touchingly take their bows to the audiance in darkness, their anonymity protected. Yet the connection between them and the audience is warm and palpable. A Nordic Giants performance is unique and like nothing else you will experience in a live setting. If you get the opportunity to see them perform, don’t let it pass you by, and experience the most unforgettable of evenings.
Live photos of Nordic Giants by Lewis Allen.
Read our review of the latest Nordic Giants album, Symbiosis, here.