Vardøgr
CD Album 2002 | Silber 021
7 tracks, 41 minutes
$12 ($14 international, $5 download (256 kbps, ~75 megs))
: Listen to the track Ny Stein
: More info
Track Listing:
ørrestøv, savn, tukthusen,  ny stein, eltavaag, trank:vill, den sorgfulle
Reviews:
"Vardøgr is an old Norse word, meaning a forewarning, almost an omen. When you hear the door opening some time before it does, when you know someone is going to call you before they do. This is made by a spirit, something which follows people around and projects their coming. It is a protective spirit, and a promise of things to come." - Origami Arktika
The brief introduction above is describing almost exactly what atmosphere Origami Arktika evokes and when it should be listened to; when you almost can feel the presence of the spirits, an eerie and strange sensation. Silber Records has just released the new album of this group, which is actually their first U.S. release. For those who remember the immensely beautiful release on Jester Records by Origami Galaktika will be familiar with Origami Republika ... Origami Arktika is one of the many members of the Republika family, and perhaps my personal favourite. Origami Arktika's music can best described as droning ambient sounds combined with traditional Scandinavian folk. Origami Galaktika's sound is not far away, but the use of acoustic instruments such as guitars and bells gives it a more organic and authentic feeling instead of a spacey and hypnotizing one. The seven tracks have been recorded live in various places, before they are processed and put together in the studio. Some of the songs contain actual vocals (sung in Norwegian of course), creating a definite old folk atmosphere. However, most tracks remain quite minimal musically speaking, and that is not something everyone can appreciate I assume. As one of the most active projects in the Origami Republika family, Origami Arktika has again brought fourth a very beautiful release that fans of acoustic folk and ambient music should not let pass unnoticed, although live performances are probably even more impressive. It is said that the live shows call the psychedelic tribal gatherings of the late-1960's to mind, and have been known to include fire, incense, full nudity, body paint and visual effects, all in effort to break down the wall between performer and audience member. For those not able to see them live someday, Vardøgr will do just fine.
~ Justin Faase, MusiqueMachine

This is some fascinatingly trippy, subtly textured and unpredictable music. Norwegian organization of artists, filmmakers, painters and musicians making this ambient assemblage of bells, drones, field recordings, krautrock percussion moments, noise, sound, and lots of spacious atmospherics. Wind blows cold and ghostly guitar fingers poke through the night air. Spirits call from a faraway beach, as a crumpled up chewing gum wrapper from the 16th Century floats on the air suspended but slowly falling through the simmering sunset melting into the wide horizon. Spiders build a web out of folk songs and ancient cellular memories. "Tukthusen" feels like some sort of Norwegian folk chant/song with ringing acoustic guitar. "NY Stein" seems like a bleak grey noir soundtrack of shimmering alien twilight, while "Eltavaag" is warm folksy and intimately acoustic. I can hear a kinship to Pelt, Cerberus Shoal, Tower Recordings, and Nurse With Wound, among others.
Fascinating, engrossing, constantly shifting, mysterious and highly visual.
~ George Parsons, Dream Magazine

Vardøgr is the first domestic taste Americans had of Norway¹s Origami Arktika. Part of the artistic collective Origami Republika, Origami
Arktika proposes a new twist on the post-rock ethos. Keeping the ambient moods, melancholia-drenched melodies and emphasizing the experimental leanings, the group has traded the electric guitars for acoustic instruments from various countries (for example, Irish fiddle, Iranian sazz, various percussion). Does it make this music "post-folk"? Labels aside, Vardøgr is a mesmerizing piece of work culled from live recordings. Everything runs very quiet, with ambient sounds playing as important a part as the musicians involved. Slow build-ups, no build-ups, traditional songs ("Tukthusen"), scary improvs ("Trank:vill") thanks to screechy microtonal string playing), this album re-invents the word "atavistic." A casual listen gives the impression of an amateur group aiming for post-grunge pomposity. You need to give the album all the attention you got, allow it to suck you in.
That's where the magic happens, that's when you become aware of the number of instruments used and of how Origami Arktika blends ambient acoustic drones with tribal drumming. There is something ritualistic at play that renders the distinction between composition and improvisation useless. Vardøgr is not a joyride, but it¹s a striking listen.
~ François Couture, All Music Guide

The press sheet for this record claims that Origami Arktika are the Norwegian branch of a worldwide artists' collective called Origami Republika. I'm not sure just how far across the world this collective may stretch, though the Arktika branch recorded Vardogr between Vancouver and Warsaw. Perhaps because I read this, I feel a truly pan-global atmosphere to the churning ambiance on this disc. Origami Arktika play dark droning psychedelia that combines experimental electronics with sparse guitars. Some light percussion and piano makes an appearance, and there is a delicate use of chimes. The electronics are a lot closer to (?)rh Band than Merzbow; nothing is really harsh, but rather atmospheric, and buried in layers of echo. The longest piece, "trank:vill", opens with what sounds like bowed strings, though it may be processed electronics. It could be an outtake from one of Pelt's noisiest moments, as Origami Arktika share the rural/alien soundscape aesthetic at times. Some of the pieces feel improvised, or at least loosely structured, though other pieces are definitely "songs". "Tukthusen" is a traditional Norwegian song, arranged in the dark Origami Arktika mold, and the droning is layered thick like paste, drowning the tune in a haze of Norwegian mountain air. The closing song is a creeping, pulsing folkie bit that leaves me with a sense of unease, yet strangely provides the record with a great sense of closure. Recommended. 10/12
~ Tom Eigen, Fakejazz.com

I think I might be genetically predisposed to like Origami Arktika's music. Like the band, my family is Norwegian, and though I wasn't exactly instilled with an appreciation for Norwegian art at a young age (aside from those buxom figureheads on Viking ships, I never even saw an example of Norwegian art until my late teens), I've got a soft spot for almost any bleak, wintry, darkly comic trifle those herring-hungry gloomsters churn out. So it's with some reservation that I recommend to you Vardogr -- a bleak, wintry and perhaps even darkly comic trifle from Norway. Origami Arktika comprises members of the Norwegian art collective Origami Republika. Origami Republika seems a bit like the Upright Citizens Brigade crossed with Elephant 6, if Elephant 6 worshipped Suicide and John Cage instead of British psychedelia, and the UCB incorporated more nudity and sex acts into their pranks. Live, Origami Arktika resort to tried-and-true performance art tactics (setting stuff on fire, running around naked, painting their bodies) in order to create a confrontational yet synergistic rapport between the audience and themselves. On record, they're considerably more demure. Vardogr isn't confrontational or even engaging. You have to make an effort to concentrate on it or each track will send your mind off on a different tangent. The album gets off to a portentous start with "orretstov" -- a single piano note played over and over while feedback fades in and out and wind chimes, cymbals and what sounds like a toy xylophone clamor intermittently in the background. It's oddly relaxing, and every time I hear it I think the wind chimes are outside my window. The band keep the party going with "Savn", which begins with a twangy slide guitar of the sort that might accompany an eerily quiet desert scene in an old Western. Faint white noise whooshes behind the guitar and, later, a slow, ominous martial drum beat kicks in. It sounds like something's about to happen, and in the next track, something does -- a guy starts singing. His voice is pleasant and homely, and even though the words are probably Norwegian, the simple Oriental vocal melody along with the chiming accompaniment and the singer's mumbling, "what the hell language is that?" delivery plant the song somewhere in the Far East. From there onward, Vardogr is all over the place -- a few songs are desolate as Norway's windblown, mountainous terrain, while others are startling and harsh, with grating industrial noises that seem to place them in an urban setting. This is dark, depressing music, but it's leavened somewhat by occasional glimmers of light, as well as what I imagine (perhaps erroneously) to be the band's sense of humor. Origami Arktika don't exactly crack jokes (unless the Scandinavian sense of humor is even darker and weirder than I thought), but if they play this stuff live while naked and covered in bodypaint, they can't be all doom and gloom.
~ Scott Jacobson, Splendid

It is not likely that you'll be hearing the "music" of Origami Arktika on your local radio station anytime soon. This Norwegian band isn't playing for any particular audience. Instead, they are creating music for the pure art of creation. The compositions on the curiously titled Vardogr are accidental, strange, eerie, sparse, and definitely not what the average person would consider music to be. Raleigh, NC-based Silber Records is presenting challenging and eclectic music... for those curious enough to seek it out and listen. We're always up for a challenge... and we openly embrace the idea of noise and sound presented as music. Accordingly, we find this album to be perplexing and genuine... the work of a group of fellows who obviously are, first and foremost, interested in pushing the boundaries of their creativity. Worth seeking out for those with truly open minds, this album features seven tricky cuts... including "Orretstov," "Eltavaag," and "Den Sorgfulle Sjomann." Obtuse stuff to be certain... Rating: 4++
~ Babysue

The CD lasts around the 40-minute mark and it has a definite traditional feel to it. The tracks are very mellow and slow in tempo. There is a lot strange sound experimentation going on throughout the album and several pieces have that Pink Floyd Saucerful of Secrets noise going on. 'Ny Stein' is one such track, The majority of this 4.22 minute piece is guitar gliss and cymbal work as well as other obscure sound creation. 'Eltavaag' on the other hand is a very mellow acoustic guitar track. It has an element of the strange as well and the background sound is quite haunting. There is a lot of percussion on here as well, and that also reoccurs throughout the CD. Origami Arktika use what sounds like an array of different instruments. They range from bowed instruments to things that you beat with sticks. From things that you pluck to things that you do not pluck. They are all in there doing their bit. I can definitely hear things being dropped on to the floor on the track 'Trank:vill'. This piece is crazed and is very much in the mould of the aforementioned Pink Floyd vein as well as element of Jorge Reyes's ambient noise stuff. Just beware if listening through headphones because 'Trank:vill' has some deafening moments when some sort of drum is being pounded mercilessly. Very strange and very Pink Floyd. Origami Arktika show on Vardogr that they are more into the noise elements rather than the music elements. There is a couple of songs on here that have singing and there are a few acoustic things but that is it. The rest is just noise. I found it interesting but nothing ground breaking.
~ Albert Pollard, Aural Innovations

Origami Arktika bring Norwegian minimalism to US ... experimental/ambient minimalists Origami Arktika... this week released their first album domestically for the US courtesy of the folks at Raleigh, North Carolinaís Silber Records. Titled Vardøgr (English: forewarning), the new seven track, 42 minute set touches on spooky folk music à la Japanís Maher Shalal Hash Baz, anti-melodic & arrhythmic soundscapes, and hyper-dynamic, random, ambient improvisations - some tracks combining elements of all three ... Vardøgr is not particularly musical or coherent, but it is very fucking odd and rather enjoyable just for that. Live, the band enhance their musical twists & turns with slides, films, nudity, body paint, fire, and audience interaction - the flavor of which canít come through on a CD. But OA do get around, bringing their performance art to a global audience. Their new LP, for example, was tracked over the past few years during visits to Vancouver, Canada (where they worked wiith Dead Voices On Airís Mark Spybey); Warsaw and Wroclaw, Poland; and Røyspytten, Snippen, and Oslo, Norway ... If you enjoy albums that take you away, leave you more edgy than comfortable, and are meant to be enjoyed in the dark or in the altered state of your choice, Origami Arktikaís Vardøgr may be just your cup of meat. Three bites out of five (captivating).
~ Rockbites

This disc and the websites associated with it, make me realize that I have not travelled enough in my lifetime.  There is so much yet I do not know, especially about other countries, other experiences and perspectives of life and this planet.  You see, Origami Arktika are a sort of artist's collective.  They are a branch of a larger collective called Origami Republika.  The artists involved are not just musicians, but artists of invention, subversion, deconstruction and reconstruction.  What fascinates me about Origami Arktika is that in their revolutionary play, they do not denounce their ancestors nor their country, but incorporate tradition in a respectful way, all the while setting old tradition in the context of new technology and thought.  It's a fascinating texture that arises from this process, a texture of stark beauty, tactile hope, and transcendent melancholy.
Part of the reason the disc reminds me that I need to travel more, is it makes me wonder what it's like to ride on a bus or train through the landscapes in which this music was created.  Certainly, the music calls them to mind with success, but the music makes me hungry for the real physical experience of the landscapes, just as, I imagine, the recordings of Hank Williams would make someone in Norway perhaps hungry for the real physical landscapes of Texas.
An interesting side note was included with the promotional material for this disc.  The quote is from one of the members of Origami Arktika. His name is Rune Flaten, and this is what he had to say about the recordings:
"Vardogr is an old Norse word, meaning forewarning, almost an omen.  When you hear the door opening some time before it does, when you know someone is going to call you before they do.  This is made by a spirit, something which follows people around and projects their coming.  It is a protective spirit, and a promise of things to come."
His description, combined with these sounds, creates a delightful sense of mystery and elegance.  Definitely find this disc and let all of your senses experience it.  Clatters and flutters, hauntings and drones.  Wide open spaces and plaintive cries.  This is experimental music at its most wonderful.
~ Saint Petrol, Starvox

Riche de toutes les facettes déjà explorées, Vardogr est un album ouvertement plus acoustique que ses prédécesseurs, où les chansons ne se cachent plus derrière les étirements ambient électroniques de Faqul ni dans les réverbérations mystiques de Fantomlust. La base instrumentale (guitares, percussions diverses...) est revendiquée et la musique se déploie en un folk (parfois presque country) crépusculaire et dépouillé, épuré à l'extrême.
Seuls quelques environnements sonores, quelques traitements ténus mais surtout un chant simple (là où la voix était incantatoire) viennent se glisser pour appuyer une immédiateté paisible, un équilibre trouvé dans le dénuement. La prise de son exceptionnelle (elle vaut ici tous les effets du monde !) laisse entendre tous les gestes discrets, les hésitations et les fautes et rappelle que cet équilibre est comme celui de Angels of Light ou Will Oldhman : extrêmement fragile, fugitif et soumis à l'inquiétude (qui perce toujours dans Vardogr), qu'il est le fruit d'une exploration complexe et constante. A ce titre, Vardogr est un disque touchant, dont l'essence devient plus mystérieuse à mesure qu'elle se découvre.
~ Naninani

Riche de toutes les facettes déjà explorées, Vardøgr est un album ouvertement plus acoustique que ses prédécesseurs, où les chansons ne se cachent plus derrière les étirements ambient électroniques de Faqul ni dans les réverbérations mystiques de Fantomlust. La base instrumentale (guitares, percussions diverses...) est revendiquée et la musique se déploie en un folk (parfois presque country) crépusculaire et dépouillé, épuré à l'extrême. Seuls quelques environnements sonores, quelques traitements ténus mais surtout un chant simple (là où la voix était incantatoire) viennent se glisser pour appuyer une immédiateté paisible, un équilibre trouvé dans le dénuement. La prise de son exceptionnelle (elle vaut ici tous les effets du monde !) laisse entendre tous les gestes discrets, les hésitations et les fautes et rappelle que cet équilibre est comme celui de Angels of Light ou Will Oldham : extrêmement fragile, fugitif et soumis à l'inquiétude (qui perce toujours dans Vardøgr), qu'il est le fruit d'une exploration complexe et constante. A ce titre, Vardøgr est un disque touchant, dont l'essence devient plus mystérieuse à mesure qu'elle se découvre."
~ Fear Drop