FAME Review: Origami Arktika - Absolut Gehör
Origami Arktika - Absolut Gehör

Absolut Gehör

Origami Arktika

Available from Silber Records.

A review written for the Folk & Acoustic Music Exchange
by Mark S. Tucker

People forget that noise music is just as much grounded in subtlety and elusive sophistications as in deafening roars and colliding atonalities. I cite Morphogenesis' first release (the cassette-only impossible-to-find eponymous relic) as a brilliant example of the former and Merzbow as perhaps ne plus ultras of the latter. Depending on what your preferences are—to be captivated and pulled into new windows on old mysteries (Morphogenesis) or to be deafened and go insane (Merzbow)—you choose your music accordingly. Origami Arktika has released Absolut Gehör as an exercise in discretion, subtlety, and broad atmospherics, thus following on the Morph tradition, so, should Merz come hotrodding down your country lane, I advise you bar the door, retreat to the back of the house with a bottle of absinthe, light a few candles, and settle in for an immersive experience instead. Let him caterwaul out in the cold and dark, he likes it like that, while you submerge into a spooky realm of tintinnabula, coruscations, echoes, buzzlines, ghosting presences, and arcane whatnots smiling uneasily out at you from pagan alcoves.

Gehör is mostly spare and eerie, belying the presence of eight musicians, but the degree of restraint in the instrumentation is masterful, creating huge ringing spaces misted, befogged, and flowing. At first, the intrusion of vocalist Rune Flaten is a bit jarring, somewhat distimbrally sitting atop everything, transposing the forbidding instrumental scenario into a sonic version of an old Bergman flick meditating upon medievality and ritualistics. The ensemble's Norwegian origins have much to do with this, not to mention that the progressive musics of upper Europe are oft achingly austere, and the juxtaposition first of the spacey with the terrene, next interposing what stands between them (man), flattens out the foreground sonic field, forcing attention to verite vocals that are at first stark, later subtle, while layering up the music behind.

Swatches of quiet Klaus Schulze, wickerman Third Ear Band, Pink Floyd's softened and arabesqued organ sections, chloroformed Godspeed You Black Emperor, and other influences coil about the inky recesses, harking back in certain ways to Eno's seminal On Land but with a much more sinister—manneredly so!—environment. Though modulations rise and fall throughout, everything builds up to the sixth cut, Det Syng for Storegut, commencing in a disarming rock format before the guazy quagmire rises again to meet it. If seems a sopored-out Dario Argento had slipped into the back of the studio to mingle with Bergman, taking his Goblin norms down several notches. Apparitions appear, brimstone wafts through, and the vocals integrate, offering the suspicion that what seems to have been a farmer-priest may not been all that holy after all, and Skonde Deg du Jente - Lurlokk denouements the process, locking out the forbidding externalities, concentrating on Flaten as the environment collapses into the grave.

Track List:

  • Ro Og Hamle (Origami Arktika)
  • Bryggja te Jol (traditional)
  • Háttalykill (lyrics: Ragnvalder & Pórariusson / music: traditional)
  • Folkestadvisa (traditional)
  • Tora Liti (traditional)
  • Det Syng for Storegut (lyrics: Vinjc / music: traditional)
  • Skonde Deg du Jente - Lurlokk (traditional)

Edited by: David N. Pyles

Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
This review may be reprinted with prior permission and attribution.
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