I close my eyes and am instantly transported back to 2006 in sweaty ‘Sin City’ in Swansea at a Funeral for a Friend gig. Seventeen year old me dancing feverishly next to my then love interest. Opening my eyes I am back in the Monarch in Camden, London. Nanook of the North have the power to conjure up the, sometimes, cringingly painful memories of my teen years. This is what makes their music so infectious yet laced with an aching pain for me.
Syrupy smooth vocals lull you into a sense of comfort in music that is deeply soulful. Their sound is like a tapestry, stretched and distorted at intervals, your ear drums ring and your heart beats faster. This style reminds me of fartlek training in the woods moving slowly and gently and then faster and faster reaching speeds that you can barely maintain. Nanook of the North’s music is ‘speedplay’.
They share their name with the film ‘Nanook of the North’ Robert J. Flaherty’s 1922 silent documentary film about love and life in the arctic. Flaherty was criticised for portraying staged events as genuine footage. He changed the names of the eskimos, presumably to make them more accessible, and the husband and wife were not actually married. You won’t find this feigned connection in their music, which has a genuine and effortless depth to it.
The final tune of the night, Panda Eyes, is delicately romantic. The air around me was thick with emotional pressure intricately crafted by the four musicians until the bursting forth in floods of sound. A faultless end to the first truly engaging set I have experienced in a while.
Check them out here: