Celestial evocations inspired by the night skies in the land of the midnight sun. It's hard to resist picking an Erik Wollo
album as a CD of the Month. We've done it once or twice when CDs have been
released in close proximity,
but every album
could be a CD of the month no-brainer.
We picked Wind Journey in 2001 and Blue Sky, Red Guitars in 2004. His music captures everything I think of as
quintessentially Echoes: evocative, enveloping ambiences, soaring, heart-baring melodies, and kinetic, propulsive grooves,
all orchestrated in electro-organic sound. Just about all of his CDs are perfect and Elevations is no exception.
Wollo has always been a master of mixing deep churning textures with synthesized and acoustic elements.
It's like folk
music for the electronic village. Tracks like "The Wanderer" are cinematic adventures,
surging forward on
rhythms that have a loping, behind the beat feel,
chords that play out like slow sunrises and a lead guitar
that sings in
Songs like "Evolution" are like electro-symphonies, morphing through minimalist moods, guitar exposition and crescendos
into the heavens. It's easy to characterize Wollo's music as coming from the frozen north of Norway with its blasted
landscapes and long winter nights. But indeed, Elevations overflows with chilly scenes of winter and implications of Norse
mythology and heroic vistas. It's music that has epic dimensions, but with a minimalist's restrained elegance.
Elevations lives up to its title, which is why we picked it as our February 2007 CD of the Month.
© 2007 John Diliberto/Echoes
STAR'S END, (USA):
Erik Wollo creates evocative electronic scores for the cinema of
sleep. The imaginative soundtracks on his CD ELEVATIONS
(65'09") conjure up vast panoramas and limitless horizons. The
music is spacious and uncluttered, and has a fresh and
quality to it. Elegant melodies wander through soundscapes of
gentle beats and take the listener from states of
stillness, to frozen brilliance, to warm enchantment. Strikingly
similar to his exalted early works Traces and
Images of Light,
ELEVATIONS opens up spaces and serenely fills them with
music. Wollo's signature use of shining,
structures, tender melodic phrasing, and masterful sound
design are what give ELEVATIONS its adventurous and vibrant
character. These 12 deceptively simple compositions are a
reading of the spirit as Wollo infuses this work with his own
being. Through his guitar and synthesizers, the summoned
music arises, and Wollo's vaporous ideas chill into form.
Chuck van Zyl
Host of STAR'S END Ambient Radio
MORPHEUS MUSIC (UK):
Melodic electronic music with clear beats and strong permeating tunes. Elevations is primarily a synthetic album that
has an ambient foundation, but one with an organic heart - graceful chiming themes ring out against ambient textures and
delicate chord structures; keening strains breeze across beautifully harmonious drones and layered washes, acoustic guitar
elegantly hangs against crackling environmental ambience. The leading melodies are full of
feeling and powerfully evocative, stirring up visions of lonely landscapes even more vivid than those of the cover art.
Programmed beats drive much of the
music, working in tandem with sequenced patterns -
restful and set deep into the sound,
often steeped in reverb or muted
and distant. Elevations unsurprisingly has a panoramic spaciousness about much of it -
a sense of crisp, fresh air,
the possibility of frost broken by warm waves of tones that gently suffuse everything like
the sun breaking through cloud.
Elevations comes with a montaged image at the front - deeply contoured snowy peaks obliquely lit cast heavy shadows,
graphic edges and radial lines overlaid in contrasting colour and form. Another terrain graphic fills the back panel where a
tracklisting appears with timings for each piece. Here also are website details and publishing information. Inside is a two
panel fold-out insert with a saturated blue photograph that maintains the contour theme. Within we find
instrument details as well as the address of Erik Wøllo's own website - www.wollo.com
Elevations is the latest in a lengthy discography running back into the mid 1980s. Nowegian born Wøllo is from Hemsedal
and has worked in "a wide range of styles from rock and jazz, to experimental electronic and classical music".His work
includes composing and performing for film, theatre, ballet and various exhibitions, guitar based,
electronic and orchestral.
This CD is released on Spotted Peccary Records and sees the artist employing guitar
synthesizers, acoustic guitars,
keyboards, Wollo VST Software and various programming techniques.
is one that straddles the ambient and
electronica genres - drifting and meandering, yet built up into dreamy
shifting rhythms. There is plenty of detail, much to hold the attention, yet sparingly arranged, uncluttered and
Twelve tracks in all mostly around the six minute mark or less - the final piece Land Of Birds drifting off into
before fading up once more into a hidden encore of
Elevations, the latest release on the Spotted Peccary label by Erik Wøllo, is a chilled collection of ambient electronica.
Wøllo is a guitarist, synthesist and composer. His music on Elevations features atmospheric guitar placed in ambient or
downtempo electronic contexts. His guitar style brings to mind the work of Terje Rypdal and Robert Rich - he plays in a very
expressive way, but doesn’t rely on traditional jazz or rock stylings.
Wøllo uses a variety of instruments to create his pieces, ranging from guitar synth and acoustic guitar to keyboards to virtual instruments of his own design.
The music on Elevations covers a lot of territory. Tracks like Blue Odyssey have more of a downtempo feel because of their
rhythm section; Skyscape moves into space music territory; and The Land of Birds has a blissful ambient feel.One of the
highlights of the CD is Evolution. Wøllo starts it off with synth strings and sequenced keyboard, creating a spacious feel, then layers on guitar and other instruments to build intensity before returning to the mood of the piece’s beginning. Another
highlight is Sphere - Into The Dream, a hypnotic piece built around minimal guitar riffs.
Elevations is an evocative work that fans of ambient & downtempo electronica should check out.
You can preview Wøllo’s music at his site.
SONIC CURIOSITY (USA):
This CD from 2007 offers 65 minutes of airborne electronic music.
Atmospheric textures swirl and expand to generate a lavish firmament of immense luster and mesmerizing appeal.
Pulsating tones waft into view, shimmering as they capture descending illumination.
Delicate keyboards provide airy riffs that superbly embellish these lofty sonic sentiments.
The chords slide into perfect harmony with the glistening tonal clouds,
achieving a striking contrast of
clarity in tandem with the vaporous mood. Environmental sounds (birds, wind)
synthetically created to inject
a humble earthiness to the soaring tuneage.
A certain chill accompanies these tunes, stimulating the ears into a
Each note becomes an enthralling delight, while the combinations of these notes achieve a
heavenly tingle. Percussion is
utilized judiciously, serving to enhance rather than enliven the music.
These languid tempos lurk deep in the mix, seasoning the flow with their chugging beats.
Often, non-impact sounds are harnessed to supply gentle rhythms that shudder softly,
a sort of subliminal locomotion.
Crafted with meticulous attention to evoking a dreaminess, these compositions do more than sedate the audience.
The vibrant depth of the music instills an expansive receptivity, attuning the listener to uplifting moods
hidden in the
flowing harmonics. The melodies snare the subconscious and guide synapses into enriching cohesion
leaves behind a distinct positivism.
A ULTIMA FRONTEIRA RADIO (SPAIN):
Nuevo trabajo del fantástico compositor noruego Erik Wollo publicado en el sello Spotted Peccary Music.
La música de este hombre siempre es fascinante, Erik Wollo es un guitarrista, un sintetista,
un compositor que reúne toda su sabiduría musical para provocar un álbum lleno de esa elegancia que siempre
ha sabido transmitir a su música. "Elevations", que así se titula este disco, es una muestra más de su música,
un disco donde desde lo más alto de las montañas heladas de su país natal, crea unos paisajes sonoros
que nos transmite toda la inmensidad del mundo que desde ellas podemos apreciar.
New work of the fantastic Norwegian composer Erik Wollo published in the seal Spotted Peccary Music.
The music of this man always is fascinating, Erik Wollo is a guitarist, a sintetista, a composer who
reunites all his musical wisdom to cause a full album of that elegance that always has known to transmit
to its music. "Elevations", that therefore is titled this disc, is one more a sample of its music, a disc where from
highest of frozen mountains of his native country, it creates sonorous landscapes that to us all
the immensity of the world transmits that from them we can appreciate.
Zone Music Reporter (USA):
Norwegian Erik Wøllo is one of the most consistent artists recording today. Elevations is the seventh album of his that I've
reviewed and he continues to impress me with his composing and performing talent. One of the things I like most about his
work is how he has a trademark “sound” which is recognizable, but yet he never overtly repeats himself. Only the best artists
can accomplish this over time and he does it with apparent ease. His music always comes across as being both stimulating
from an intellectual standpoint yet emotionally satisfying as well.
Elevations features Wøllo blending his guitars with assorted electronics, keyboards
and percussion. It's difficult to place his
music into any one genre. Is it ambient? New age? Progressive fusion? EM? (electronic music)? In this regard, he resembles
Patrick O'Hearn whose music also resists normal classification. The title track, for
instance, features washes of melancholic
tones and textures, delicate sequenced
notes imparting a subtle sensation of rhythm, and muted pealing guitar. “Blue
Odyssey” sparkles with reverberating high-pitched bell-like tones, moves along with
an undercurrent of chugging bass beats,
and blends a feeling of drama with a
beautiful yet frigid feeling of loneliness and isolation. This latter comment is one of
Wøllo's characteristics, i.e. an evocation of the brutal harshness of Norway's natural
beauty: a fjord's sheer rock walls, a
glacier's icy-blue light, or the winter's long
nights when the sun hardly rises. Darker (yet never menacing) emotions tend to
flow through Elevations , but the CD never veers over into the morose or moribund.
Instead, songs such as “Evolution” and “A
Sea Of Steps” have an emotional
resonance crafted from a melodic sense of reflection and somberness with kinetic
combined in unique and unexpected ways. “Sphere - Into The Dream”
lends a minimal and gentle guitar refrain with ambient
soundsculpting, creating a
soothing sonic backdrop while “Red Odyssey,” after a serene drifting prologue,
swirling synth and guitar and pulsing/pounding percussion laced with a
feeling of power and passion, and “Skyscape” floats
effortlessly on billowy textural
spacemusic-like melodic melancholic waves.
I hesitate to call Wøllo's music “complex” because the emotional undercurrent of
even the most ambient-like tracks is so
innately human and rife with emotion. Also,
this music is just flat-out gorgeous (I'll resist the urge to label it “pretty”). The
instrumentation, rhythms, engineering and production dictate that I categorize Elevations as a “thinking-person's”
ambient release. While it would be make for a
pleasant background listening experience, sitting quietly and drinking in
twelve tracks would, I imagine, prove much more satisfying. Music this rich with
creativity deserves more than your
casual attention. As with past Wøllo releases,
I highly recommend Elevations.
A new album has been a long time coming from Norwegian musician Erik Wollo. His last work, Blue Sky, Red Guitars,
dating back to 2004 is the only one I was familiar with until now. In comparison to its predecessor Elevations has been
created by both synthesisers and guitars, the textures are more synthetic yet also incredibly evocative at the same time.
The album and track titles suggest that Erik has a great appreciation for the natural world and this comes out in the
emotional resonance felt throughout.
The slowly developing track “Elevation” provides a peaceful introduction to the album. It begins with synthetic noises
that drop into the soundscape and then echo off as though we're inside a partial cavern. Strange quivering noises like
distorted bird sound flit about the backdrop while a rocking effect comes in with walking guitar notes and brief passages
of eerie high pitched effects.
I can only describe the track “The Wanderer” as superb. Cold gossamer washes and subtly resonant drones start the piece
off before layered percussion and soul tugging melodies come in to fill out the soundscape. Part way through a melody
like stretched silvery curtains reaches a poignant crescendo. For me this track created a vision of an epic and lonely
journey by a person inspired by stark yet beautiful scenery.
Acting as a kind of interlude is “Sphere – Into the Dream” where gaseous washes rise and fall as imagined waves,
while a slow tempo rhythm of shiny notes and synth refrains convey a feeling of understated wonder or majesty.
The lasting impression that Elevations made on me is of unexpected serenity. Despite the lively spirit of some tracks,
overall it seems infused with a sense of peace and communion with the physical world. Indeed, it only took a few minutes
of the first track to get me entranced by the atmospheric beauty of the music. Gorgeous sonic textures, graceful rhythms
and melodies, plus top notch production make this essential listening for ambient and EM fans alike.
THE SOUNDING BOARD/ZONE MUSIC REPORTER (USA):
Breaking the Silence.
On the album Elevations you can hear the chronicles of Erik Wollo's life growing up in Norway.
You can also hear the history
of the world for Norway's past dates back to 10,000 B.C.
Scaling the jagged mountains and crossing the fjords and the
valleys is an ever-present reminder of a civilization
that ushered in the Bronze Age.
Just reading the track listings will give you a clue to Erik Wollo's thinking; Blue Odyssey, Novalis, A Sea of Steps,
The Land of the Birds, etc. There is strength and solidity in his music. No fluffy and fancy-free music on this CD.
Elevations is a travelogue for the high spirited. The journey begins in the recesses of your mind and with solid
footsteps expands to almost inaccessible mountaintops, aeries and glaciers. The goal here is not to climb to the
precipice, but more in the journey itself. The music is electronic ambient using synthetic and acoustic guitars,
keyboards and a lot of programming. Every track is a milestone, a new horizon on the expedition.
The haunting trumpet of wild geese opens the first cut Elevation. If we could see from their viewpoint we would
take note of
the frozen tendrils of ice cascading down the mountainside, the clear, azure sky and perhaps we might
feel the cold, pure air.
Our thoughts are as rarified as the atmosphere. We are on a perpetual journey older than
instilled by a force greater then ourselves.
The Wanderer is everyman. His quest for understanding is universal, his curiosity a natural trait. We stand at the
base of the
Galdhøpiggen with awestruck hearts, as it is the very "home of the gods". As men, we relentlessly wish
to attain their lofty
heights only to be smitten by mortal bounds. For now.
On Red Odyssey quavers of sound accompany us as we scale the rocky crags colored with reddish columbite and with
covered in cranberry and cloudberry. Our search for peace lies not in solitude, but in understanding.
The horns in this tune
are majestic and the background thick with bassy undertones.
This is a very prominent
song on the recording and one of my favorites.
The journey continues not only on the outside, but on the inside as well. Novalis is a song of innovation.
The surprise is in
not seeing what was before our very eyes the first time. The music allows us time for introspection
My favorite cut on Elevations is called Skyscape. It has a levitating tone, very free and almost insubstantial.
In my mind I drifted along with the music for some time and I was awarded clarity of thought. Very peaceful and relaxing.
Finally, Land of Birds is one of the possible destinations on our journey. The strong, flowing guitar lead is omnipresent
until we a greeted by an eerie silence within the track. The mood changes to one of fantasy, as if some barrier
has been broken or some lofty peak scaled.
Erik Wollo's album is pensive as well as provocative. If you have not ever taken a personal journey of any kind
then this music will encourage you to do so. If you have, then it is a stimulating companion.
The musical hurdles as well as the pathways it provides will hearten you along the way.
Rating: Very Good
reviewed by RJ Lannan on 6/24/2007
e/i magazine (USA):
It’s hard enough to avoid clichés about ice and frozen landscapes when writing
about electronic music produced by
Scandinavian artists. But when you feature
snow-covered terrain on your CD cover and tracks are tied together by the sound
of icy arctic winds, you’re asking for it. Fortunately, Wøllo keeps things
interesting enough that clichés never seep into the
music itself. On Elevations,
he returns to the electronic soundscapes for which he is best known.
In many ways, this record is something of a modern musical anachronism.
It is purely and unabashedly melodic and
programmatic, and breaks no new
artistic ground whatsoever, which is fine—many artists have produced their
best work when
they weren’t trying to rewrite the book but stuck to what they
did best. In Wøllo's case, that would be producing memorable
that’s long on atmosphere, mood and melody and short on harsh sounds and musical
Which is precisely what we have here. Musically,
the individual pieces on Elevations flow together to create an atmospheric
evocative of passage through near-arctic mountain ranges; think Vangelis’
Antarctica filtered through Richard Burmer’s
Bhakti Point and you’ll have a
pretty good idea of what you’ll hear. Those familiar with Wøllo’s earlier
electronic and ambient
works will recognize plenty of strokes from a sonic
palette that is exclusively his. Unlike many albums
where artists cram their
best ideas into the first part of a recording and then
cruise on autopilot to the end, Elevations, as good as it is from the
actually gets more interesting as it proceeds. “Skyscape,” “Green Odyssey,”
“Arrow of Time” and “The Land of
Birds” are the last four of the CD’s fourteen
tracks, and they encapsulate everything that is good about the earlier pieces
while turning it up a notch in terms of inventiveness. Elevations stands with
Wøllo’s best, and fans of Vangelis and Burmer
(and either of their works
mentioned above) would be well advised to add it to their collection.
Electroambient Space (USA):
Norwegian guitarist and synthesist Erik Wøllo is back with a fine
collection of carefully crafted compositions.
Whereas Red Guitars,
Blue Guitars was built around that instrument, Elevations goes back to
Wøllo's trademark sound of
creatively seamlessly blending guitars,
synthesizers and programming.
These are light, lilting melodies that
you can hum
long afterward. Lush atmospheric textures abound, wrapping
each song in a gentle cocoon of sound. As on the last album,
remain a major theme. “Red Odyssey” is imbued with warmth and light,
as percussion takes a wavering guitar lead on
a meandering carefree
journey. “Blue Odyssey” is colder, sharper, the percussion punching
its way through, though the
melody remains bright. “Green Odyssey” is
softer and moves along at a carefree pace. In between are a number of
highly accessible tunes for easy listening, some rhythmic some not,
some lighter some a shade darker,
although lighter is the order of the
day for the most part.
Phil Derby / Electroambient Space
Keyboards Magazine (Germany):
Elevations ist eine Veröffentlichung, die sich an das durchaus
weil schon so oft durch deklinierte Thema der
Wøllo beschränkt sich dabei auch nicht auf das Abspulen hinlänglich
bekannter Ambient-Sound-Klischees, sondern schöpft aus einem großen
an eingängigen Melodien.
Neben den von Erik Wøllo
eingespielten Gitarren- und Keyboardparts kommen auch selbst
VST-Plug-Ins zum Einsatz, die man sich
auch von seiner Website
darf. Die Musik klingt angenehm ebenmäßig, und keinesfalls austauschbar;
Stücke bekommen durch die Konzentration auf das Wesentliche einen
Charmante Musik aus dem hohen Norden.
Bernhard Wostheinrich / Keyboards Magazine 2/08
Amazing Sounds (Spain):
The music by Erik Wollo in this album is an imaginative combination of elements typical of
Contemporary Instrumental Music and others of an Ambient character sometimes near to Space,
whose result is a pleasant colection of electronic symphonic
The artist offers us his mastery at creating a work full of beauty and strenght,with themes that in some occasions
tend to be of a warm romanticism, while in other
instances they have an enigmatic air.
MantaRay Pictures (USA):
Eric Wollo climbs the mountains of ambient sound in this superb CD. He performs all the instrumentation: Guitar
synthesizers, acoustic guitars, keyboards, Wollo VST Software, percussion and programming. The man is a good musician
and excellent composer of music for the mind.
The disc runs from the dreamy heights of "Elevation" to gentleness of "The Land of the Birds."
There is a timeless quality to the album that comes from the solid production quality captured and the composition of the
music. There is no hustle and bustle that you get from most of our daily lives. But rather a slow, more introspective stance
that would be good for anyone looking to improve their lives.
Eric Wollo has made two strong ambient statements with this album and his previous disc Blue Skies, Red Guitars.
He's one of the talent artists on Spotted Peccary Records.
Groove Unlimited (Holland):
The music by Erik Wollo in this album is an imaginative combination of
elements typical of
Contemporary Instrumental Music and others of an
Ambient character sometimes near to Space,
whose result is a pleasant
colection of electronic symphonic pieces.
The artist offers us his
mastery at creating
full of beauty and strength, with themes
that in some occasions tend to be of a warm romanticism,
other instances they have an enigmatic air.
Guts Of Darkness (France):
Des accords flottent dans un écho brumeux, foulant le sol de leurs intrigantes réverbérations. Flottante comme une brume
oubliée, une douce séquence se dandine innocemment dans un monde hétéroclite qui se laisse bercer par un doux piano
accompagné de stries fantomatiques, triturées d’une six-cordes aux élans tempérés. Elevation nous introduit tranquillement dans le monde poétique de Erik Wollo. La musique de ce fin guitariste Norvégien est divisée entre un univers atonal
harmonieux, aux subtiles incantations tribales, et des éclats de tempo harmonieux. Un monde où le lyrisme mélancolique
se moule à des ambiances brumeuses sur des guitares aux strates aussi enveloppantes qu’un synthé aux mouvances
fantomatiques. Prenons Blue Odyssey et son doux clavier aux notes échotiques qui progressent parmi les lamentations
spectrales d’une guitare. L’intro façonne la solitude spirituelle, avant de fondre sur de fines percussions qui module un léger rythme accrocheur dans un univers métalliquement fantomal. Pourtant les harmonies sont présentes. La mélodie est
superbe. Mais tout baigne dans un climat introspectif saisissant, comme dans Evolution et Novalis. Et c’est le charme
d’Elevations. Chaque titre regorge de refrains accrocheurs, perdus entre deux strates brumeuses, entre deux rythmes,
comme Red Odyssey et Green Odyssey, que l’on fredonne pensivement, comme si cette musique nous possédait sans
laisser l’impression. The Wanderer est tout simplement superbe avec ses accords discrets et ses percussions feutrées.
Un titre aussi mélodieux que cafardeux sur un rythme légèrement tribal. Une superbe complainte intemporelle, Sphere -
Into the Dream vogue sur des accords minimalismes enveloppés d’un synthé aux saisissantes ondes nostalgiques.
Des fleurs sur une brume, tant c’est beau. Tout comme A Sea of Steps et son doux tempo aux fines percussions échotiques et les nébuleux Skyscape et The Land of Birds. Elevations est une douce musique pour les sens. Ceux qui cherchent des
séquences animées seront sans doute déçus, car les rythmes de Elevations sont aussi progressifs que le vent qui pousse et module les brumes. Céleste, éthéré et harmonieux, ce dernier opus de Erik Wollo est une belle collection de titres aussi
charmeurs qu’enjôleurs. Pour ceux qui cherchent autre chose…. (mardi 15 avril 2008)