Nordic Giants, May 5, Deaf Institute, Manchester
Manchester’s Deaf Institute may not be the place you’d expect to find bands with the sonic scale of Nordic Giants or Athousandfurs. The small almost cozy upstairs room of this old building provided a strange yet wonderfully intimate environment for a journey into the post rock meets orchestral film score and electronics of Nordic Giant’s production.
However, the Night opened with a flawless performance from Athousandfurs of a number of new unheard songs including and some older tracks. Captivated, the audience stood almost still to hear every note from Alex Hedley’s angelic voice. Backed by powerfully driving drums and perfectly judged psychedelic noodlings from Billy Merrick on the Guitar, the band create a wonderfully emotional and expansive sound which draws you right in, making you completely forget that you are in a small room in Manchester.
Nordic Giants came on stage quietly, unnoticed in the dark and two large screens lit up showing the first of many short films that often took the focus of the performance away from the music. The first was a film set in a dystopian future with robot police officers targeting human convicts and sending them to the moon. The sheer scale of the film pre-empted that of the music itself as they began with eerie bowed guitar, trumpet and a vast soundscape of synths. They then begin to build such a large and emotionally charged sound that it could leave one feeling slightly out of depth and overwhelmed. But the addition of the short, song-length films to the mix turned the gig into a dynamic experience where one’s attention was torn between the masked and feathered figures onstage and the arresting and often violent images on screen.
They moved on to another film, this time starring a number of girls in a boat who put on oxygen masks and eventually end up brutally murdering each other for oxygen. Again, the visually stirring films drew people’s attention away from the music, which became more like an interesting soundtrack. But the power and energy put into both the drumming and the rest of the music meant the balance just about worked.
A powerful fusion of media, the gig ended with Alex Hedley and Billy Merrick of Athousandfurs returning to the stage to perform ‘Dissolve’ with the Giants. The second part of a film played earlier began with the original sound, bringing the whole thing to a breathtaking conclusion.