A Séance Of Dark Delusions
27th April 2015 – Kscope
01. Elysian Dreams
02. Evolve Or Perish
03. Rapture ft. Beth Cannon
04. Give Flight To The Imagination
05. Dissolve ft. Saturday Sun
07. Futures Dark ft. Nadine Wild Palmer
08. Black Folds
09. A Thousand Lost Dreams
Expectation. Over the last couple of years, few bands have made such a striking impression on certain corners of Monolith Towers than Nordic Giants. With a procession of EPs, stuffed with bleakly beautiful tracks, and augmented yet further by their captivatingly powerful live performances that blend audio and visual elements, the duo have set a high bar for themselves and their first full-length release A Séance Of Dark Delusions.
Despite the fact that their previous pair of EPs, Build Seas / Dismantle Suns were released within a month of each other, this is Nordic Giants first opportunity to experiment with the broader, maybe even widescreen, album format. A Séance Of Dark Delusions starts in an appropriately off-kilter fashion, with nearly twenty seconds of complete silence before the strains of opening track “Elysian Skies” start to drip from the speakers.
With a full studio to play with, and strings provided by a group of live musicians rather than samples, the duo have sculpted more of the richly layered, otherwordly post-rock soundscapes that made their preceding EPs such an surprising delight. At their finest, Nordic Giants balance the melancholic with the euphoric, and both ends of the emotional spectrum can be found here.
Again, Nordic Giants are joined by a procession of guest vocalists, who feature on almost half of the nine tracks that comprise Séance. Frejya, and Alex Hedley of Saturday Sun - having graced previous tracks with their ethereal tones – make return visits here,and again, the decision to stick with guest vocalists rather than bringing a full-time member into the fold strikes a perfect balance between variety and familiarity, building on the skeleton of their piano and drums.
Also in keeping with previous releases are the overlay of carefully chosen (and edited) spoken word passages, and it’s obvious that as much care, attention and thought has gone into their presence as the films that accompany the spellbinding live performances.
A taste of that live marriage between audio and visual is also available to purchasers of the physical CD, which is accompanied by a DVD featuring a number of goodies. Aside from a short but informative behind the scenes documentary, it includes footage from a show in Brighton, the video for previous single “Shine“, and perhaps the biggest prize of all, the inclusion of the marriage between “Through A Lens Darkly” and the short film “The Last Breath“. It’s hard to underestimate just how potently emotive this pairing is – and remains, even after repeated viewings. The fragile should approach with caution.
There’s no denying that Nordic Giants have struck upon an almost magical formula. They exist almost without peer, especially in the live environment. However, Séance is not a completely unqualified success. Some tracks are almost too ethereal, and the result is that it takes a large number of listens to get a proper handle on the album. Perhaps here is where the weight of expectation is so problematic. With the previous output, Nordic Giants may simply have set the bar too high for themselves. Perhaps their claustrophobic songs really are better suited to the EP format than to the long-form album.
Tracks such as lead single “Rapture” – possibly the stand-out track of the album – and “Futures Dark” have already made their way into the live shows, and sit comfortably with the more familiar numbers. Performance is most certainly where Nordic Giants excel, and their marriage of atmospheric music and art house cinema is really a must-have experience for fans of either medium.
A Séance Of Dark Delusions is an unquestionably beautiful collection of songs, but one that leaves a sense that Nordic Giants’ magnum opus is still ahead of them. It may not be a perfect album, but there’s still plenty to tides over until we see what this unconventional and fiercely imaginative duo do next.