For readers who are unfamiliar with Origami Galaktika, it’s the main moniker used by prolific Norwegian musician and sound artist Benny Braaten, a twenty-plus-year experimental music veteran. Closely affiliated with the multidisciplinary artistic collective known as Origami Republica, Braaten has a long and storied past working as Origami Galaktika. The project, which is mostly a solo outing but can occasionally include other players, has a long history of releases across many formats. Far from just a studio act, Braaten has performed as Origami Galaktika live all around the world, including as support for the Legendary Pink Dots on more than fifty dates. You can hear a level of compositional refinement that’s clearly the result of not only a strong and well-crafted vision, but also a heavy regimen of touring. Even at its most abstract, the songs and soundscapes feel controlled and dynamically effective, with Braaten’s curatorial hand and ear guiding it in the direction that’s most effective for the desired outcome.
Released by Russian experimental label Monochrome Vision, the music served up on One can best be described as an earthy and organic type of ritualistic ambient: minimal in instrumentation but spatially vast. The tones, scrapes, drones, and intonations, although heavily manipulated through electronics, feel born of acoustic phenomena in the real world. The music of Origami Galaktika is, at least as represented on One, completely instrumental and free of typical rhythmic elements for the most part. Bass guitar is often bowed, plucked, and tapped, with a wide variety of sounds being extracted before being fed into an array of effects. Lush tails and almost infinite echoes ring out in fractal patterns, like someone shouting to determine the size of a mysterious and unknowable space. Where a lot of the darker forms of ritualistic ambient feels as if one is peeking through a veil into some kind of secret world, Origami Galaktika’s approach feels very inclusive and approachable.
Despite a near total lack of traditional melody, besides the occasional massive bowed drone returning here and there, the overall sonic experience is very enjoyable and musical, often sonorous in the most beautiful way. As a whole, the record flows along at a perfect pace with each track feeling like a sort of piece in a larger narrative, which is a big part of why One is best heard in its entirety. From the ominous opening track, ‘Fullmoon Blue Mirror’, to the epic finale of ‘Memories of Tibet’, no track ever overstays its welcome and each is different enough to sit as a unique piece within the album’s overall context. It’s worth noting that some very creepy and tripped-out field recordings are used as a backdrop to further enhance the album’s inherent otherworldliness. One is largely free of the superfluous production techniques common in a lot of experimental electronic music; what’s left is only the essential elements in their most raw and primal form. Each of the songs on One unfold like miniature psychedelic journeys deep into the Earth, summoned from the mind and heart of a person for whom these aural pieces are merely reflections of a core philosophy and worldview. The magic contained within the very materials that are used to create the sounds here bloom into beautifully crafted events, at once terrestrial and ethereal. Songs like ‘The Beautiful Wonders and Dimensions of Creation’ convey Braaten’s deep spiritual connection to his own music.
The heartfelt treatment of the subject imbues each piece with an unquestionable sincerity. Even at its most tonally dark (and it is unmistakably dark), there is a cinematic feeling of wonder and mystery that keeps it from drifting too deep into a melancholic vibe. One is a beautiful record to put on and get lost in, and is highly recommended for those looking for some transcendental organic ambience.
01) Fullmoon Blue Mirror
02) Ground and Open the Receptors
03) The Beautiful Wonders and Dimensions of Creation
04) Clearing of Spaces
05) Slowly but Perfect and Surely
06) In the Heartroom-Moment Is Everything Homecoming
07) Bright White Light of Love 300 Ks Per Second
08) Memories of Tibet