For once, a record where slipping in the adjective ‘cinematic’ is fully meritted. Amplify Human Vibration by Nordic Giants is a stupendous record and really cannot be described any other way. Utterly beautiful, expansive, foreboding and deeply impressive. Sliding into the dark winter ahead, it really is the perfect soundtrack. With time running out, it’s very hard to imagine 2017 producing a better effort than this hauntingly complete and epic album. In fact, it’s difficult to think of a record in recent memory that surpasses this offering. It’s that good.
Put together as a soundtrack to an upcoming short film, the whole hopes to shed a positive light upon the world. An admirable ambition and the music on its own drips in a deeply emotive way. Post-rock is perhaps the easiest label but the shards of sound running across the soundscape really are quite unique. Put together by the somewhat elusive duo of Rôka and Löki – they perform behind masks, which seems entirely apt – a touchstone may be Public Service Broadcasting (with whom they have toured). Both bands share the same love of snatched voices from here, there and everywhere. Voices that reveal more from deep in the mix each listen. If anything, however, Nordic Giants use the snippets even more effectively. They bring a state of the nation feel to widescreen of the record. It’s not unlike sitting on the tundra somewhere, looking up at the sky and listening in to the International Space Station. Remarkable stuff and not nearly as daft as it sounds.
What stops things being overblown or blowsy is the forcefulness of the sounds. There’s a certain brutality about things, not simply some hippy-dippy stare at the stars drooling tomfoolery – though, for sure, there are certainly elements of peace and love to all mankind.
Opener ‘Taxonomy of Illusions‘ may feature arch brain-frier Terence McKenna from the lecture of the same name but it’s focussed and considered. Reverb-happy and periodically massive piano combine with skipping drums powerfully. Music that’s built for the exterior as much as any interior-type contemplation. Cascades of piano on the likes of ‘Dystopia‘ give that exterior levity along with the musing aspects. Perhaps an indication of their apparent motive behind the project – optimism and beauty as well as a more visceral, gritty and thoughtful soundtrack to the planet and humanity’s neverending creativity in fucking things up.
Clearly, all this sounds a little daft and pompous for what is still a pop record at the end of the day, but, from the opening bars, it’s very difficult to view any other way. Amplify Human Vibration is a profound record and one that transcends itself. A modern classic, make no mistake about that.
The duo bring their rather mysterious live shows to the UK imminently looking utterly unmissable.