ERIK WØLLO – NORTH STAR / WINTER TIDE
Norwegian artist Erik Wøllo has released over 50 albums since the early 80s. In that time he covered a wide range of styles, but in more recent years he developed a highly personal approach to ambient music. His guitar is his main instrument, which is mostly used to create bright, almost acoustic, ‘picked’ melodies (as opposed to stretched electric guitar layers). Embedding these in electronic layers that cover “space, drone, new age, and electronic music”, he “builds a bridge between grand symphonic realms and gentle, minimal and serene atmospheres”.
The North star has been an easily identifiable guiding light to orient oneself for thousands of years. To Wøllo, it also is “a musical metaphor, compositions that are both celestial and stellar express a timeless and permanent state of mind when the world changes around you.
“The music is based upon multiple layers of sustained Ebow guitars. However, [compared to his 2019 release Infinite Moments] the sound took a totally new expansive and evolved trajectory with melodic elements, rhythmic arpeggio loops and some percussion added to the treated guitar ensembles. The mood from the early Ebows sets the emotional direction: vast and spacious, minimalistic and sparse in character. I also included some ambient nature sounds to place the music into a more scenic environment.”
Music from the Scandinavian north is often referred to a ‘cold’ and ‘arctic’. With its warm and welcoming atmosphere, North Star is clearly the exception to that rule.
Shortly after the release of North Star, Projekt Records also generously offers Erik Wøllo’s live set for SoundQuest Fest 2021 as a Name-Your-Price download.
Winter Tide is a one-hour set, presented here as eight separate tracks as well as in a gapless edition.
“Imagine high snowy mountain peaks, frosty smoking rivers, sunlit hoarfrost trees, a cinematic landscape seen through ice rose windows of a warm cottage.”
A captivating and subtle performance that demonstrates Erik Wøllo’s skills in more than one way. If you want to take a closer look at him performing, I also recommend checking out the YouTube video of this performance.
THE GREEN KINGDOM – EMPYREAN
Empyrean is the third release of The Green Kingdom (Michael Cottone from Detroit, Michigan) on Dronarivm, preceded by Expanses and Harbor.
Compared to these two previous releases, this music leans more to ‘ethereal modern classical’ music, due to the use of guitar and piano. In fact, the music is so melodically rich that one could argue if this should still be filed under ‘ambient’. But then again: who cares about genre tags!
“Empyrean seeks to transcend the Earthly realm altogether. The mood ranges from pensive to lighter pieces, the intent was to provide soundscapes that elevate one’s midstate to the clouds above.”
After enjoying eight instrumental tracks, the album closes with Another Sky featuring (wordless) vocals by Karen Vogt, slowly guiding us back to earth.