During the last few years, Norwegian synthesist Erik Wollo has attracted a lot of favorable attention with his guitar-oriented take on electronic ambient music.
LetÕs check out his trio of Extended Play Singles and a live concert release, all available exclusively as download releases...
And a live release...
And the reissue of an older studio album...
ERIK WOLLO The Nocturnes (DDL on Projekt)
This release from 2012 features 22 minutes of soothing ambient music.
While the guitar is WolloÕs instrument of choice, he also employs an array of electronics in his music.
Delicate texturals waft with languid intention, supporting a series of more substantial keyboard riffs. These fluid expressions pursue gentle melodies of an airy character, pleasantly floating on currents of fragile buoyancy.
Although the majority of his guitarwork tends to manifest as ethereal tonalities, there are a few occasions in which the guitar retains a guitarlike definition, delivering precise plucking of a crystalline nature.
One piece features soft percussion in tandem with a strong piano presence.
While most of his compositions are crafted to sedate the listener, these tunes possess a subtle strength beyond conventional ambient music. Their melodic definition sparkles as it entices its way into your heart. The songs are brief and do not stream into a longer structure; this bestows them with a particular charm, compressing their pacific vivacity into a delightful focus.
But the musicÕs winning appeal comes in the actual melodies Wollo creates with these tenuous threads, producing tuneage that exhibits a touch more substance than most ambient music while retaining a favorable tenderness.
ERIK WOLLO The Crystal Bells (DDL on Projekt)
This release from 2012 offers 21 minutes of melodic ambient music.
This musicÕs emphasis is on luscious melodic pieces whose emotional content shines through the subtle stylings of dreamy electronics and tender guitar
The electronics are not confined to just atmospheric backdrops. Keyboard flows establish a mood of languid alertness, while what texturals do exist are actually generated by processed guitar.
But not all the guitarwork masquerades as drones. On several occasions the instrument shines with string luminosity. Strummed chords unfurl with stately posture, generating vistas of attractive radiance. These gregarious riffs have a way of touching the listenersÕ soul.
And yes, some bells do feature in this tuneage, but in a meticulously remote manner.
These compositions stream together to establish a continual flow of superb delicacy. Their ethereal power is vivid, captivating in their relaxed structure. The melodies are quite engaging in their shimmering fashion.
ERIK WOLLO Celestia (DDL on Projekt)
This release from 2013 features 27 minutes of dreamy electronic music.
With this release, WolloÕs predilection for tender beauty surpasses his previous successes. The music here pulsates as a distinct agility infects the gentle ambience.
Electronics and processed guitar conspire with rare instances of understated percussives to generate tuneage of remarkable enchantment.
For this release, the guitar stylings are confined to just processed texturals. These expressions create moments that seethe with emotional gentility.
Atmospheric keyboards contribute threads of gorgeous definition to the overall cloudlike presence adopted by the music. Their cyclic oscillations mimic a stellar twinkle, but of a secondary nature, like sunlight reflected off dangling icicles.
These compositions shine with tender puissance, the sort of power that goes unnoticed until it has sneakily conquered the listenersÕ subconscious. Each passage demonstrates an outstanding capacity for subtle charm. The amiable pieces ring with a peaceful mastery rooted in tenuous chords coexisting to affect a gestalt of glittering fascination.
The last track offers a superb dose of strength as chugging rhythms coax swishing keyboards and dreamy texturals into a state of relaxed agitation, resulting in a wondrous tune whose tenderness is perfectly balanced with a touch of animation.
ERIK WOLLO Silent Currents 3 (DDL on Projekt)
This release from 2013 offers 58 minutes of ambient electronic music tempered with animated passages.
This music was performed live on the air in 2010 and broadcast on the StarÕs End radio program on WXPN.
It begins with airy texturals wafting on a gentle electronic breeze. It soon crystallizes into a realm of ringing tones and deeper-voices ethereal sounds (processed guitar). These sounds sway and oscillate, gradually interacting in a tender fashion to generate more lush atmospherics. Eventually, chugging keyboards enter the mix, along with e-perc rhythms, both of which serve to lend rhythms and substance to the flow. Soon, the pleasant wail of guitar sustains are added, establishing a sighing sub-melody to the overall harmonic stream. Things progress; the guitar wails begin deviating, as does the keyboard undercurrent, each pursuing variations of delightful definition. Soon, the percussives (indeed, everything) fades, swallowed by a shooshing wave. Emerging from this new tide: fresh keyboard chords, cycling into a dreamy fog. New rhythmic patterns swing into play, accompanied by another dose of ethereal guitar strains and electronics tones. This new gestalt engages in even more melodic tangents: a twang enters the guitarÕs utterances, whirling patterns infect the dreamily looping keyboards, the e-perc adopts a velvety delineation. And eventually, after exploring ambient arcs of this arrangement, an electronic breeze sweeps it all away...to be replaced by another set of factors. This time, the keys resound softly with reverence, the guitar sustains breathe with a certain wobble as they express developing chords. Twinkling keys enter the mix, making everything sparkle. Additional keyboards deliver the listener to an adjacent region, where softly grinding tonalities lurk in the distance, punctuated by a new host of heavenly textures...from which emerge crisp e-perc tempos and whimsical key patterns riding a crest of processed guitar chords. The music becomes more demonstrative, demonstrating more strength than previous passages. The processed guitar slides in and out of conventional sustains, rising to peaks, then engaging in complex structures. Again, an airy bridge occurs, allowing the music to pass into its next phase: a state of heavier drones attended by sashaying pulsations, all leading to another passage marked by twinkling sounds and sighing guitar sustain moans. The mood is a temperate one, evoking somnambulant shadows that surround the listener and coax relaxation of the subject. Finally, the music enters its coda phase, wherein many of the previous elements reprise themselves, knitting together into a lushÑbut gentleÑflow that brims with power in an understated way.
A wonderful selection of pleasantly atmospheric passages tinged with instances of subdued puissance.
ERIK WOLLO Silver Beach (CD on Projekt)
This album was originally released in 2005 and has been remastered and reissued in 2013 and features 73 minutes of sprightly electronic music.
Here, WolloÕs music is livelier. Sparkling electronics are etched with dreamy tonalities and driven by snappy rhythms.
The electronics a generally crystalline, glittery and ambrosial. Bell tones play a vital role in numerous tracks.
Granted, a majority of what one perceives as "electronics" is undoubtedly processed guitar. Besides a skillful hand at keyboard-generated electronics, Wollo is very adept at molding guitarisms into textural resonances. Those latter tend to shimmer with a ghostly demeanor.
A degree of percussion (mostly artificial) gives this tuneage a sense of pep that is otherwise rare in WolloÕs current music. Yet, elements of this ambience-to-come are evident, lurking within the mix and flavoring the animated songs with a vaporous undercurrent. There are, though, incidents in which the beats become quite demonstrative and up-front.
These compositions exhibit a more adventurous predilection, injecting a bouncy presence into the flowing electronics, resulting in glistening music whose substance can be authoritative while retaining a hint of tender fluidity. A few tunes possess quite memorable melodies. Notably, this music is more structured with gentle melodies than his other releases.
VARIOUS ARTISTS Possibilities of Circumstance (CD on Projekt)
This release from 2013 features 56 minutes of diverse (but generally gentle) electronic music.
This collection features tracks by:
Steve Roach (an otherwise unreleased piece): twinkling keyboards and thumping bass tones conspire with fluid background textures to produce a lovely soundscape.
Tim Story & HJ Roedelius: stately piano and gently clacking sounds and peripheral electronics create a haunting milieu.
Robert Rich: moody electronics counterbalanced by sparkling steel drum percussion (of a very subdued nature) combine with pedal steel guitar sustains (that expand into dire chords) while those "moody" electronics grow progressively cheery.
Ulrich Schnauss & Mark Peters: several sprightly keyboard threads escalate in complexity, merging together to form an endearing tune.
Larry Fast/Synergy (an otherwise unreleased track): a brooding, almost ominous opening erupts into a percussive-driven excursion into higher altitudes with sweeping tonalities and addition rhythms.
Jeff Pearce (an otherwise unreleased song): airy textures coalesce to form a pensive tapestry that grows increasingly dense.
Nathan Youngblood & Soriah (an otherwise unreleased track): moody electronics and infrequent bell-tones are backed by a host of remote chittering sounds and tempered by the rise of an immense lunar shadow.
Erik Wollo (an otherwise unreleased piece): a full range of instruments (chugging percussion, twangy guitar, dreamy tones and serpentine electronics) produce a lush and enticing song.
Whether this is an introduction to these musicians or whether youÕre interested in new music by old favorite performer, this is a delightful collection of gentle electronic music.
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