Erik Wøllo: Cloud of Strings (CD / Digital)

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Product Description

1 Rainshine
2 Windsong
3 Avalon
4 Cloud of Strings
5 From Ground to Sky
6 Ruralis
7 Motion Picture
8 Ecotopia
9 Memory Ocean
10 Interlude Duet
11 End of an Era
12 Snowfall

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Limited edition of 500

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.

Projekt release: October 6 2023

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Reviews

  1. Reviews Editor

    From Prog Censor

    Erik lets his synthesizers rest to return to his first love: the guitar, most of the time acoustic. The twelve quiet pieces of this album take us through landscapes with the colors of lost paradise where we find enchanting melodic vapors sometimes close to those of Steve Hackett (“Ruralis”), Anthony Phillips (the eponymous beach ea, true palace of mirrors, crystal magic), of Brian Eno (the opening track “Rainshine”, “Memory Ocean” and “Snowfall”) or even those of Pink Floyd with a guitar touch dressed in extreme softness for the circumstance. Sublime melodic beauty in the moving “From Ground to Sky” where the chords of the acoustic guitar cascade in iridescent pearls over reverb and echo effects carried by a timeless angelic breath. “Motion Picture” moves on a light and repetitive rhythm which covers the soul with a sweet tranquility prolonged in the following track (“Ecotopia”).

    Erik had already devoted two beautiful albums to the six-string which he mastered masterfully, sometimes evoking notes that Jeff Beck also shaped and notably in the excellent “It’s a Miracle” on the album Amused to Death by Roger Waters, Guitar Nova (1998) and Blue Sky, Red Guitars (2004), titles from these two previous opuses, are undoubtedly even more exclusively dedicated to the acoustic guitar with little or no additional material.

    In the present opus, Erik adds other strings, one or other electro nuances, the EBow [registered trademark for “Electronic Bow”, electronic bow, editor’s note], slide and some percussion (hand drums, shakers and triangle). You will also be immersed in some synthetic stratum close to the Berliner Schule: magical moments distilled in this marvelous “Memory Ocean”, dreamlike as can be, whose rhythm close to the sequential is interpreted by the string instruments where other aerial notes combine guitar. It’s like an upward current that lifts the listener towards sparkling and luminescent stars. Too short piece of condensed happiness. “Interlude Duet” is sure to evoke Anthony Phillips in his acoustic works. The spirit of the ex-Genesis hovers at more than one moment in the journey of this album. We can almost see the snowflakes swirling in the very beautiful “Snowfall”. A killer recipe: on the canvas of these melodic paintings stretches a frame made of long notes suspended in weightlessness, while other crystalline notes dance there, sparkling like photonic particles cast in rainbows. -Clavius ​​Reticulus

  2. Reviews Editor

    From Solenopole

    After years of exploration in the world of electronic music, Erik Wøllo returns to his roots with his 14th solo album, Cloud of Strings, a sonic enchantment that celebrates the magic of strings. This album indeed marks a return to his roots for Wøllo, who revisits the instrument he first loved: the acoustic guitar.

    Inspired by his previous guitar and electronic music albums, Wøllo boldly combines complex picking patterns with gentle melodies, creating dreamy and enchanting compositions. On Cloud of Strings, acoustic guitars occasionally meet Finnish Kantele and other stringed instruments, as well as subtly woven percussion. Skillful use of multi-track layering and different effects creates expansive sonic textures and shimmering atmospheric tones.

    In conversation with Erik, he shares: “Everything you hear on this album is acoustic; no synthesizers were used. In recording Cloud of Strings, I rediscovered the sonic richness and versatility of the acoustic guitar, using all my experience working with electronic music . With one eye on the past and one foot in the present, Wøllo revisits musical ideas from his earliest days, reinventing them with a mature perspective and renewed emotional depth.

    Each piece of the album reflects this new direction, forming a strong unit of twelve movements. From the meditative opening of “Rainshine” to the cascading arpeggios of “Snowfall,” each track invites the listener on an intoxicating musical journey. Cloud of Strings captures the rich natural tonal qualities of the acoustic guitar, creating a musical spell driven by clear, resonant melodies.

    After years of exploration with electronic instruments, Cloud of Strings marks a change of pace for Erik Wøllo. With a masterful mastery of the strings and a moving artistic sensitivity, Wøllo transports us into a captivating sonic universe where each note resonates with deep and sincere emotion. It’s a real treat for fans of acoustic music and further proof of Wøllo’s musical genius.

  3. Reviews Editor

    From Prog Censor

    During his career that started in the 80s, Eric Wøllo participated in 1983 as a guitarist in the production of Celeste’s only jazz band album. But since then he has pursued a career in ambient/electro made many collaborations, including Steve Roach, and solo albums, including this one, the 14th, which marks a return to his favorite instrument and to some cousins such as the Finnish kanteles of the title track. Some melodies like “Interlude duet” originate in Erik’s adolescence in 1978, when he would work his instrument up to 10 hours a day, ambitious a classical musician career.

    This record, Erik wanted it fully acoustic, bio, in the sense that there is no synth, but from the 1st track, “Rainchild”, one could doubt it, however; in his fingers the use of a “simple” EBow [electronic archet, ndlr] opens up a lot of perspectives! This track immediately drops the album. It will be organic, but not simplistic anyway!

    Next up, “Avalon”, with shaker percussion loop and multiple layers of bass, guitar picking, etc., is overcome by a solifying air guitar, majestic. This track seems to be able to go on indefinitely, the slightest changes occurring represent what the atmosphere is; and I quote (from memory) Brian Eno: “Look at a cloudy sky, then close your eyes for a moment. When you reopen them the sky looks the same, but if you look closely, it has changed.”

    Nearly an hour of abandonment. Atmosphere and organic. Loops, re-recordings at the service of chiseled minimalist melodies, all benefiting from a perfect setting, clear and airy like its beautiful ethereal harmonies!

  4. Reviews Editor

    From Rockerilla
    Erik Wøllo returns to the origins of his forty-year musical career, the acoustic guitar, with a new album on the faithful Projekt, Cloud of Strings. The Norwegian guitarist is a skilled e-bow player, and he demonstrates this admirably in the first track in the setlist, Rainshine, a drone that elegantly charts the course for the entire collection. On the following Windsong the acoustic guitar strings are clearer and more recognizable. As on the moving From Ground To Sky, a folk ballad immersed in a sea of ​​gloomy melancholy. Ecotopia is yet another bath of harmonics amplified by the e-bow that color a drone of calm and reassuring NEW AGE. -Roberto Mandolini

    Original Italian:
    Erik Wøllo torna alle origini della sua quarantennale carriera musicale, la chitarra acustica, con un nuovo album sulla fedele Projekt, Cloud of Strings. Il chitarrista norvegese è un abile suonatore di e-bow, e lo dimostra egregiamente nella prima traccia in scaletta, Rainshine, un drone che elegantemente traccia la rotta per l’intera raccolta. Sulla seguente Windsong le corde della chitarra acustica sono più nitide e riconoscibili. Come sulla commovente From Ground To Sky, una ballata folk immersa in un mare di uggiosa malinconia. Ecotopia è l’ennesimo bagno di armonici amplificati dall’e-bow che vanno a colorare un drone di pacata e rassicurante NEW AGE. -Roberto Mandolini

  5. Reviews Editor

    From Sequenzer Welten

    ….just lovely!!!
    This is how I got to know and love music many years ago.
    “Back to the Roots”
    It’s nice that I can now take this little journey through time with the Cloud Of Strings. Erik Wollo. creates such dreamlike atmospheres with his guitar – listening to his music is and remains an experience. This album is an absolute “must have” and should not be missing from any EM collection 🙂

    Original German:
    ….einfach Herrlich!!!
    So habe ich vor vielen Jahren die Musik kennen- und lieben gelernt.
    “Back to the Roots”
    Schön, dass ich nun diese kleine Zeitreise mit der Cloud Of Strings machen kann. Erik Wøllo. schafft mit seiner Gitarre so traumhafte Athmosphären – es ist und bleibt ein Erlebnis, seine Musik zu hören.
    Dieses Album ist ein absolutes “Must Have” und sollte in keiner EM-Sammlung fehlen 🙂

  6. reviews editor

    From Exposé
    Word that preceeded Wøllo’s latest album, Cloud of Strings, suggested that this would be a guitar album, as in electric and acoustic guitars, and my mind immediately raced back to the 80s to those early albums like Where It All Begins and Dreams of Pyramids, albums that embraced a strong ECM type jazz element while remaining dreamy and full of space. Well, that’s not what this is — although to be honest there are more guitars here that sound like real guitars than on any of his albums in at least a couple decades. Indeed, the strong lure of synthetic sounds has pulled Mr. Wøllo in a whole new direction from the tasty jazz that permeated his work in much earlier years. While what is here is mostly in the moody ambient and introspective style of his more recent work, it is accomplished mostly with acoustic and electric guitars (and gobs of studio reverb and echo), and less reliance on synthesizers, 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. The arrangements sometimes include kantele and other stringed instruments, and light percussion as well, plus the inclusion of real world sampled sounds, though only to the degree that they exist to enhance the compositions, like the gentle hand drums that underscore the subtle rhythm in “Motion Picture.” As one proceeds through the set, Cloud of Strings presents elements of texture, melodies, and depth that might immediately remind longtime fans of albums like Guitar Nova, Wind Journey, and Blue Sky, Red Guitars from the late 90s; indeed, this is a most refreshing album that paints beautiful images with the sound of guitars.

  7. reviews editor

    From Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END
    There is a world out there to enjoy, and Erik Wøllo is making his way through it one album at a time. Stylized, not adrenalized, his Cloud of Strings (56’17”) again secures his status as a reliably invigorating innovative musician. Wøllo here is feeling grounded by his acoustic guitar, all the while working in a high cerebral register. Blurring the lines between playing and being, the confirmation of this talent comes with a hint of something authentic behind all the technique. The twelve tracks that make up Cloud of Strings are each reaching for perfection – on the six string vibrations sounding out a musical vision. As private melodies, moody turns and shadowy thoughts progress toward resolution, subtle contrasts of cool tonal hues push and pull at the listener’s attention. Though polished and sure Cloud of Strings is full of heart and wild touches. Outside the neutrality of basic Ambient Music tight lead lines rise, fall and focus along songs strumming in rhythm, then easing into shimmering plucked chords and building tones. The beauty of this album will be stronger than your drive to daydream. It insists on your attention. 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.

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