Lately, I’ve been craving something different. Don’t get me wrong: I get plenty of awesome, unique promos every week. However, I’ve been wanting something truly outside the box, almost more simplistic, if that makes sense. As if on cue, I received two or three such albums recently, and the new album from Nordic Giants is one of them. “Amplify Human Vibration” releases on October 20th, and it is definitely different than anything I’ve heard this year.
Stylistically, the Nordic Giants are ambient, dark, cinematic, psychedelic, organic electronic music. Yes, that is quite a few adjectives, and I still don’t think that adequately describes them. While much of their music involves programming and loops, the drums are still real, as are the instruments, like keys, horns, etc. It’s a perfect combination of all of the above. Their music is made to flow through you as you sit back and absorb all of it. This is not casual listening. It is an experience, almost apocalyptic in nature.
The band consists of Loki on keys, synth, trumpet and loops; and Rôka Skulld on drums, bowed guitar, and samples. These guys are not only outside the box, but they are known for their stunning live shows that I hope to witness someday. That’s quite a bit for just two people! And, of course, the performances and compositions are all amazingly well done. I especially love Loki’s mesmerizing keys and Rôka’s fantastic, unorthodox drumming.
For those expecting a dark instrumental journey like the amazing “A Séance of Dark Delusions”, this new album is something quite different. While the musical style is still in place, the band themselves have been labelling this as more of a soundtrack than an album, as it is a companion piece to a short film they are also releasing which explores the good, kind things that are taking place in this world. “Amplify Human Vibration” sets the electronic, ambient beauty of the Nordic Giants up against the philosophical musings of multiple modern philosophers. There is quite a bit of spoken word, maybe even too much for a standard album. The band has perfectly timed the music, though, to enhance philosophical points and to evoke a reaction inside of us. That is amazing and they do a great job, but I admit that I am afraid this album is also something that will definitely not win new listeners, and it may even scare away interested fans, too. I’m hoping the emotion impact will shock and awe listeners’ ears, though.
So, I have two perspectives on this album that are constantly fighting each other in my head. On one hand, this album being at least half dialogue is a bit of a turn off. The philosophical concepts are always completely consistent, and they may come across as preachy to some people, instead of classy and powerful (which is what they are). Going into this album, I was hoping for another beautifully instrumental album like “A Séance of Dark Delusions”. That album spoke its truth subtlety and artistically. On the other hand, however, I believe it took balls to release an album that is indeed more of a soundtrack to greater ideas, and there is definitely this welling of emotion and revolution that you will experience if you pay attention and follow the musical cues. So, on one side, the album may lose many fans for this group, but on the other side are the fans that these guys want to reach anyways.
Due to its nature, this album does require a track by track look. The album begins with the “Taxonomy of Illusions”, and it does not hold back at all. The philosophical musings of mystic Terence McKenna are potent and accusatory, and the music wells up to a momentous ending that is beautiful and surreal. There is a point, and you will know it when you hear it, that the fireworks will go off in your heart, and that is something truly special.
“First Light of Dawn” comes next, and is one of two purely instrumental tracks on the album. It is a breath of fresh air in that it gives us a moment to absorb what we heard on the previous track. It is dark, gorgeous, and satisfying in its use of horns to create an aura of hope and expectation. “Spirit” follows, and is a piano-driven track with activist Martin Luther King, Jr.’s solemn words about silence creating a very haunting atmosphere.
Next, “Dystopia” includes the words of activist Sacha Stone, and might be my favorite track on the album. It is bright, hopeful, and surreal. “Reawake” comes next, and is an ethereal, almost celestial track featuring the words of philosopher Alan Watts and the eerie vocal harmonies of Freyja. It is momentous and towering and beautiful.
“Immortal Elements” ends the spoken word part of the album, featuring the voice of activist poet John Trudell and his words about the power of the people in remaking this world. It is a bit of a slow burn at first, but ruptures near the end with force and, well, power. “Autonomous” is an instrumental end to the album, and it slowly rises, and with it our hearts fly and dream of a better world. It is a cinematic, orchestral end to an impactful album that takes itself very seriously, as it should.
Overall, “Amplify Human Vibration” is one of those albums that will take you aback the first time you hear it, and you’ll even wonder if you like it. There is something about it, though, that draws you back in as the music and the powerful words begin to rivet your senses. You begin to understand what this whole album is trying to do; and, suddenly, a lightbulb moment breaks your understanding wide open. This is a great work of art from the Nordic Giants, and it will be interesting to see how many listeners truly appreciate it for what it is.
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