0 5 mins 3 mths

Symbiosis: The interaction between two different organisms or populations living in close physical association, typically to the advantage of both. A mutually beneficial relationship between different people, populations or groups.

This is a largely instrumental, experimental, transdimensional musical experience.

The contents of the album, 8 tracks in all, is a blend of the occasional lyrics/spoken word with the weird, the wonderful and the downright strange soundscapes, many of which can be considered cinematic in nature.

The album starts off with “Philosophy of Mind”; I’m not sure what’s going on at the very start of this but it falls within the ‘downright strange’ category I hinted at earlier. A bit like a mountain horn that’s been squashed! The spoken word elements that follow are highly reminiscent on the now seemingly defunct Winchester Club, and these form a preface for some atmospheric, piano-driven, music. The spoken word appears several more times throughout the track; personally, I’d prefer it if there were no words, at times they do get a little lost behind the music, which I don’t mind at all, but I feel they’re a little unnecessary sometimes. The piano eventually gives way to some electronic keyboards for a short stint before the spacious piano returns with guitars to provide a rousing finale.

“Anamorphia” is a different beast altogether. An instrumental track (largely – a few backing vocals in the mix) that ebbs and flows between quiet phases interspersed with bold cinematic sections that would not go amiss on the big screen at all.

“Hjem” (which means home in Norwegian allegedly) is third on the track-listing and is probably my favourite on the album. Not an awful lot to it, but it’s one of those passages of music that starts low and slow but builds and builds into something special. Close your eyes and this track can transport you to somewhere otherworldly, it really is that good.

Next is “Faceless” and is the first to feature ‘proper lyrics’ provided by Alex Hedley. At first I had a picture in my head of Barclay James Harvest or Rare Bird (if you’re old enough to remember either of them). I have to admit, I could have done without the lyrics altogether, the music being more than satisfactory particularly the crescendo in the second half of the track where the vocals are largely lost. Still, a pretty good piece of music, just not a favourite.

Fifth on the list is “Convergence” with its jazz influences at the start of the track. This is another that starts quite meekly but builds, and continues to build, until you really get a couple of ‘who, what?’ moments set  up by two energetic bursts of music that start, and stop, quite abruptly but are no less musical for this.

“Spheres” is the second lyric-featuring track, this time provided by Freyja. The vocals here switch between the ethereal and the near operatic. In the louder passages of music, which is most of the second half of the track, the vocals, while still there, fade into the background without being lost altogether. This woman has a cracking voice.

The penultimate track is “Spires of Ascendency”. Imagine taking a trip down a Norwegian fjord with this music in the background, reaching its peak as you get to a waterfall dropping down into the flow. It’s a lovely piece of writing, coming second only to “Hjem” on this album.

The final entry is Infinity, which starts out with a bit of electronica and, like several of the preceding tracks, it builds into something less ‘spacy’ and into something much, much more musical. In fact, without the electronics this would be a wonderful track and would challenge my choice of favourite quite easily. The second half of this is magnificently cinematic, atmospheric in the extreme and if the magnificence had continued into the last, rather quiet, minute, it would have been spectacular!

The album is excellent, their live shows supposed to be all enveloping and I’ll be able to tell you about that next week. The album is out now, go to the band’s website for ordering details.

Full track list:
1. Philosophy of Mind (7:41)
2. Anamorphia (5:56)
3. Hjem (4:23)
4. Faceless (5:41)
5. Convergence (5:37)
6. Spheres (6:01)
7. Spires of Ascendency (4:27)

Rating: 8.5/10

Nordic Giants are: Loki & Rôka Skulld

Label: Independent

Web: http://www.nordicgiants.co.uk
Socials: https://www.facebook.com/nordicgiants
Twitter: @Nordicgiants

Words: Reg Richardson

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