4 Cloud of Strings
5 From Ground to Sky
7 Motion Picture
9 Memory Ocean
10 Interlude Duet
11 End of an Era
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Exposé: "The moody ambient and introspective style of his more recent work (…) is accomplished mostly with acoustic and electric guitars (and gobs of studio reverb and echo) (…) certainly a refreshing turn that opens a new page in the Wøllo canon. So many of the dozen tracks here are just dripping with elegance and beauty, like “Ecotopia,” “Memory Ocean,” or the title track for example, feature many layers of guitars in their native state, sometimes with complimentary effects, eBow, and studio processing, all in service to the melody and contemplative spirit that moves everything forward with grace." -Peter Thelen
Star’s End: "The twelve tracks that make up Cloud of Strings are each reaching for perfection – on the six string vibrations sounding out a musical vision. (…) Though polished and sure Cloud of Strings is full of heart and wild touches. (…) This music is like the sharing of a secret – the secret things Erik Wøllo knows about the world, and has figured out how to tell us using his acoustic guitar." -Chuck van Zyl
Sequenzer Welten: "This album is an absolute ‘must have’ and should not be missing from any EM collection."
After many years and many electronic music albums, Norway’s Erik Wøllo returns home, in a sense, on Cloud of Strings. Created on an assemblage of acoustic guitars, his 14th Projekt solo album sees Wøllo explore the instrument he first loved. It’s an album of twelve melodic moods — an intimate collection showcasing a fresh perspective on Wøllo’s artistic range and versatility.
With reflections of his two previous guitar-music albums — Guitar Nova (1998) and Blue Sky, Red Guitars (2004) — Wøllo imaginatively combines intricate finger picking patterns and sweet-sounding melodies with dreamy and enchanting compositions often enhanced with extensive use of the EBow and slide. The guitars sometimes meet with the Finnish Kantele and other stringed instruments as well as percussion from hand drums, shakers and triangles.
“Everything you hear,” Erik says, “is acoustic; there were no synthesizers used on this album. Lately I’ve felt the urge to further explore my relationship with the acoustic guitar. Recording Cloud of Strings was a chance to rediscover this instrument and its cousins using all my experience from working with electronic music for the last 40 years. When I was younger, I was the kid who sat in his bedroom all the time obsessed with rehearsing 10 hours a day. My plan was to study to be a classical musician. A few ideas from those times — when I still was in high school — made their way onto the album. For example ‘Interlude Duet’ was actually composed in 1978. I wanted to see how these elements would emerge in 2023 with a focus on multitrack layering with all the nuanced dynamics that is so natural within the strings.”
Erik continues, “My earlier acoustic guitar albums were well-received by critics and the fans. Reviews noted their elegant and poignant sound rich in depth with a lot of texture and ambient flavor. Moving forwards from there, on this album I blend emotive themes with distinctive rhythmic patterns and complex sonic layers of drone textures. Utilizing studio techniques like bowing the strings with added effects and employing more unconventional objects resulted in expansive shimmering atmospheric and ethereal tones. Applying this instrument’s abilities within a broader musical context uncovers the warm resonance and rich natural tonal qualities.”
Each track reflects this focus, carefully forming a strong unity of twelve movements. The opening “Rainshine” is a familiar Wøllo-style mood: EBow tones hovering over a dark atmospheric drone. “Windsong” has strong and memorable iridescent phrases beautifully performed with understated and minimal harmonic movements drifting in place with extensive use of repetition. “Avalon,” “From Ground to Sky” and “Motion Picture” are all rhythmic pieces composed with a few tonal phrases and motifs combined with various percussion patterns. A gentle mosaic mixes the earthly and the celestial. “Ecotopia” with glassy 12-string themes and “End of an Era,” built upon long soaring EBow tones, are slow drifting enigmatic compositions whose melancholy seems to tell a dreamlike story. “Ruralis” and “Interlude Duet” are chamber music-like where Erik plays duets with himself. There are free-form pieces like the title track performed on two Kanteles and bowed guitars. “Snowfall” ends the album with a cascade of layered arpeggios including repeating elements from the first track’s EBow theme.
After albums primarily created with electronic instruments, Cloud of Strings is a sparkling change of pace. Wøllo masterfully manipulates the strings with elevated clouds of dulcet layered sound. It is musical spellwork driven by clear and resonant acoustic melody.