I’m starting to learn my lesson with the Nordic Giants. Their records can often come across as underwhelming on first, casual listen. But the more I listen, the more an entirely new world opens up to me. That is real magic. The band has a new album arriving on February 4th. It is called Symbiosis.
Nordic Giants are a mysterious and intense duo from the UK. They go by the names Loki (keys, synth, trumpet, and loops) and Rôka Skulld (drums, bowed guitar, and samples). They do everything themselves, and their live shows are purported to be mesmerizing, spiritual events. They are completely invested in their style and their characters. Singers Alex Hedley and Freja guest on a couple songs respectively, as well.
The music of the Nordic Giants is spontaneous, hypnotic, and flourishing. They play a cinematic rock of sorts, heavily leaning into psychedelic, ambient, and explosive moments. At times it can feel like a soundtrack, in other moments a rock record, and in others a social commentary. Their music is evocative, cerebral, haunted.
Going back to my intro, I’ve started to learn something about their music. The duo crafts music that slowly dawns upon the deepest recesses of our minds. It takes time, but it grows and ripens with each listen, and soon, it becomes something unfathomably rich and emotional. Their music promotes connection, and so listening the first time one may lack that connection, perhaps compared to what they felt on the previous album. It might feel like a disappointment at first because of this. But soon that connection is birthed for the new album, too, and soon nothing can satisfy the craving for it.
Symbiosis is a grand record. This time, the music is led more by piano and drums than by other instruments, and this return to the basics not only proves accessible, but also a window into deep and more mystical ideas. I should mention that Loki’s keys are impeccable and rivetingly performed, and Rôka’s drumming is dynamic, thunderous at times, and subtle in others. They play with gusto and grace, certainly.
The new album has eight tracks, and I love them all. The opener “Philosophy of Mind” is bold and colorful, transitioning between ambience and bright passages. The follow-up “Anamorphia” is similar in how strong and purposeful its melody is. I love the last half for its gracious electronic aura paired with booming piano and drums. Of course, the next track “Hjem” is a cinematic, ponderous song that floats and emotes with refinement and peace.
One of my favorite moments on this record can be found in the song “Faceless”, featuring Alex Hedley on vocals. It is a slow burn of sorts at first, but it builds confidently and gorgeously into a soaring mountain of melody, guitar, and burning emotions. This song gives me goosebumps. It’s interesting, then, that Freja’s outing in “Spheres” is not about explosive portions, but about hovering auras, haunting visages, and psychic realms. It is just as powerful, but in a different way.
I love every song here. “Convergence” is another gem with its climactic style; “Spires of Ascendency” is an ambient and abstract score of sorts. The closer, “Infinity”, takes all of this anticipation, expression, and artistic performance, and it becomes something more. It becomes something transcendent, vast, and romantic, more than a simple listen will allow. This is a song in which to delve to new depths, in which to vanish for eternity. I never want it to end for all its splendor and quiet might, and the feelings of endlessness and cosmos are so palpable and so on the surface that I cannot imagine anyone missing them.
Nordic Giants have created yet another beautifully human, cosmically purposeful record. Between the multicolored auras and dynamic performances, you may find a path towards rest, a journey towards the universe in each one of us. And I expect I will be exploring that path for a long time to come.
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