Thursday, January 10, 2008

Origami Arktika

The album literally inhabits the space where the “real” world and the magical world meet. The album title Trollebotn is named after a wild untamed area of Norway where trolls & mountain giants live. This album was recorded by a who’s who in the Norwegian underground drone rock community including Tore Bøe (Origami Republika founder), Kai Mikalsen (Kobi), Kjell Runar Jenssen (Motorpsycho, Del), Kjell Øyvind Braaten (Varde, Ehwaz), Kjell-Olav Jørgensen (Salvatore), & Bjarne Larsen (Salvatore). Out of all the participants, I am only familiar with Kobi. If the rest of the collaborators are anything like Kobi, and from what I hear on this disc they are, then I would assume that the sounds that they make on their own would be intriguing too. This disc was recorded on an island in a lake that looks down on the actual physical and magical, Trollebotn. Through musical alchemy, the magic and wonder of the place has been transformed into stunning, drone-ing, floating sounds.

I listened to this record for many weeks before even bothering to open the CD case. I was so entranced by the sound I felt little need to find out what it was about. I don’t speak Norwegian so all I did was listen to Rune Flaten’s melodious, woodsy voice. When I finally opened up the CD case I was pleasantly surprised that each song had a brief explanation of what each song was about. Despite sounding like Can or Faust on Quaaludes (this is meant as a compliment) most, if not all these songs are very old.

The first song “Anne sit Heime” features Rune's amazing vocals, a sad whistle or flute, a slowly unfolding strummed guitar, and minimalist percussion. It tells the tale of a mother singing to her son, about his father’s journey to go fight the Mountain Giants. The mother finally breaks down telling the son that his father can not return unless the son helps him back. The intensity of the song slowly builds as the drumming gets tighter and quicker. By the end, it is almost sounding like Slint or at least the dense part of the For Carnation.

Fjellmannjenta apparently is a bit of a dirty ditty. Like all great dirty folk songs, it sounds like the song is about nothing but sweet, innocent farmer's daughters. Well the song is about a farmer’s daughter, but she is making a pass at her chosen one, according to the liner notes, “with her skirt around her neck.” While I enjoyed the song on a pure sonic level, finding out the meaning of the words to the song is like reading the explicit verses in the Song of Solomon in church. It is deliciously wicked.

Fra Guro Heddelid needs no translation for one to know it is a sad, sad song. What sounds like a bagpipe drone, or an accordion, moans slow and low. There are bells, cymbals fills, and other unspecified clatter. All the while, Rune sings the lament of a woman who married for money not love. Her children surround her as she describes her self as a dying, once beautiful, tree beside a beautiful river.

Som Lidi Baere Lauv is full of impending doom. The drum beats have a thicker, more ominous feel which counters with a high pitch but low drone. Simultaneously, the vocals seem fall from the sky to the earth, like tears rolling down a cheek or a droplet of water falling from a waterfall. The song ends actually with the sound of water.

Throughout this whole disc, the magic of the place where it was recorded can be felt and heard. A very special recording, it is both ancient and modern. This record is a bridge between the “Real” world and the magic one. In this place and on this record they co-exist beautifully. (Silber) (Dan Cohoon)