A fully-meshed audiovisual machine.
21st Feb 2022
Not your typical band, tonight was as much about film as about music and the audience were mesmerised. Moving on from last time I saw them, in 2015, the accompanying images, on a big screen behind and a monitor at the front, seemed before to be a collection of images but are now complete short films. A dozen pieces, with titles and creator names, go along with each piece. Meanwhile the two musicians are mostly hidden in the gloom, occasionally picked out by a rotating light, revealing feathered head dresses and masks, body paint and bits of armour.
It’s the strangest idea but, swallowed whole, it works in a dreamlike otherworld. The films aren’t soundtracked as such – the intensity or speed of the music only sometimes matches the movie but that creates a tension and commentary, appearing to highlight underlying story motion or downplay dramatic images or motion. Played much as the albums, it is piano, taped synths, and drums with taped old speeches or a couple of vocal tracks, rising and falling cinematically, sometimes slow, sometimes frantic. I am reminded of the build of waves on a jetty. Once, a trumpet plays, a couple of times a bowed guitar takes front stage, but the core sound is keys and drums.
The set opens with a disturbing live action movie of mayhem and murder as scuba divers chase each other through on-land forests. Moving on, we get an animated ant running through a nest, cartoon undertakers losing a coffin humourously/horribly, a Sci-Fi dystopia, a commuter mouse losing it like Michael Douglas in ‘Falling Down’. There are more. Some make sense, some are a collection of surreal colours or images. It is reminds me of the French comic magazine, ‘Metal Hurlant’ (sometimes reprinted as ‘Heavy Metal’), with the visual equivalent of prog-rock presenting moods and themes more than logically functioning stories.
The crowd at The Brudenell are rapt, there is no chattering and the bar is quiet as the alternately delicate and thunderous sound flows and crashes about. Having seen the band before and heard a couple of albums this is what I expected but better. The band have become a fully-meshed audiovisual machine to transport consciousness for a little while.
Nordic Giants played The Brudenell in Leeds in 2022.
Our review of the new album
Our live review from 2015