Erik Wollo: Silent Currents 3


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Silent Currents 3 is a digital-only album based on a 2010 live performance at the famous Star’s End radio show in Philadelphia. This show was Erik’s third Star’s End performance; the previous two were released on the double CD Silent Currents/Live at Star’s End (Projekt PRO262, 2011). Where this release differs is that all the live material serves as a basis for a new sonic voyage. The music is re-arranged with several elements added this year in Erik’s studio in Norway. Within this release, Erik explores innovative electronic and ambient landscapes with floating currents and slow-motion structures.

The sound is a mix of both long sustaining zones and sequenced, rhythmical passages. The melodic elements are often distant and blended with the contrasting sections of eerie, blurred cluster-chords and dark floating background drones. There are several distinct rhythmical pieces, though the primary focus remains the deep drones. The music drifts; sections morph organically into each other, forming an atmospheric instrumental suite in thirteen continuous parts.

This ethereal sonic experience will take the listener on a journey of music with a highly cinematic and imaginative quality.

Star’s End hosted by Chuck Van Zyl, is one of the longest-running radio programs of ambient music in the world. Since 1976, this show has provided the Philadelphia broadcast area with weekly midnight musical adventures. Erik says, “I have been kindly invited to perform at Star’s End multiple times. To perform ‘on the air’ late at night in the radio studio contributed to these unique and inspired performances. In this setting, it felt very natural to do some downtempo and quiet, floating ambient music.”

This album is currently available as digital download only.

Weight .3 lbs
Release Year





  1. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Star’s End

    Along with Ian Boddy, Vic Hennegan, Jeff Pearce, Robert Rich, Steve Roach, Kit Watkins and other innovative musicians, Erik Wøllo uses his time playing live on STAR’S END Ambient Radio as a creative safe haven – a place where he can stretch out, try new things and invent and explore new space. However, to categorize Silent Currents 3 (57’51”) as a recording of a radio performance would understate his achievement. Wøllo’s third STAR’S END concert transpired on the broadcast of 10.17.10. Ideas seldom rest, and over the course of the next few years Wøllo re-worked the material from his on-air zone into the Silent Currents 3 release. His previous two transmitted concerts were put out as the double CD Silent Currents (2011), and portray a decidedly Ambient low-key and wandering atmosphere.

    This third volume offers more than familiarity. Beginning in a dislocated icy quiet Wøllo translates electronic currents, musical notes and sonic textures into three dimensions. Dense servings of roiling drones evaporate as consonant, breathy tones announce a sparkling transition. Loping percussion loops advance in long easy strides beneath ethereal e-bow guitar leads. Deep into dark fibers of sound this album moves assuredly between sonic stories and states of energy. From spacey thought-tones out of windswept alien landscapes to buoyant rhythms and breezy melodies of a moonlit north, this album offers diverse meaning. Seductive charm melts under sudden gravity, evanescent lineaments darken into grainy beds of sound, as what is familiar seems transcended. Silent Currents 3 is finely structured. Everything advances so perfectly that listeners will be surprised to hear where they have ended up – amidst the elemental forces of night, space and the radio waves that emanate through both. -Chuck Van Zyl

  2. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Ondarock

    A guardare la sua discografia e le collaborazioni della sua carriera, si direbbe di Erik Wøllo che possa essere un contemporaneo dei vari magnati californiani che negli anni Ottanta hanno di fatto coniato quelli che sono gli standard basici dell’ambient sintetica. A ben vedere, si scopre invece che fra quella generazione e il norvegese ci sono come minimo dieci anni di differenza, colmati dalla precocità con cui la carriera di quest’ultimo ha avuto inizio (“Where It All Begins” risale al 1983, ventidue anni dopo la sua nascita, qualcosa di estremamente raro per l’epoca e il genere).

    Che possa essere o meno questa una delle ragioni, il dato di fatto è che nonostante una quarantina buona di album all’attivo e un posto fisso ormai da tempo presso la scuderia Projekt, Wøllo non è mai riuscito a conquistarsi una poltrona in prima fila – peraltro potenzialmente più che meritata – sulla scena dell’ambient music contemporanea, dovendosi sempre accontentare di una per lui modesta seconda linea. Nell’anno della celebrazione tre decadi di attività trascorse a testa bassa e senza mai perdere il ritmo, il polistrumentista decide di dare un seguito a Silent Currents, uno dei suoi progetti più recenti i cui primi due episodi erano usciti congiunti due anni fa.

    Si tratta di registrazioni provenienti da una serie di performance eseguite per “Star’s End”, uno dei più popolari programmi radio della Pennsylvania nel mondo della musica atmosferica, ri-assemblate nel caso di questo terzo capitolo in una sorta di cut-up in studio. Il risultato è un flusso unico di un’ora scarsa che si articola sulla forma dello stop’n’go, riprendendo in mano le caratteristiche più classiche della musica del norvegese: power electronics, lunghe distese di arpeggiatori, armoniche in dissolvenza, lunghe aperture chitarristiche. L’impressione è quella di un’esibizione volta più a presentare il proprio arsenale stilistico che a esprimersi con naturalezza, nonostante la prima parte (fino circa al minuto 27) riesca a bissare le atmosfere magiche dei primi due capitoli della serie, nonché dell’ultimo Airborne.

    La scelta di rendere disponibile il disco solo in formato digitale avalla ulteriormente la tesi che si tratti di un’opera rivolta principalmente al target dei completisti, ma anche di coloro che fossero interessati ad approcciarsi per la prima volta all’arte di Wøllo. Per tutti gli altri, e per chiunque fosse alla ricerca di un’esperienza più profonda e completa con la peculiare miscela elaborata in trent’anni dal norvegese, Silent Currents 3 non può che ricoprire un ruolo almeno in parte minoritario, specialmente alla luce della gran mole di lavori più indicativi delle evoluzioni sonore del suo autore. Che nel frattempo si conferma anche senza brillare come uno dei maestri, mai abbastanza considerati, dell’ambient music. Rating: 6 (good) -Matteo Meda

  3. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Sonic Curiosity

    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 Star’s 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 guitar’s 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 lush but gentle flow that brims with power in an understated way.

    A wonderful selection of pleasantly atmospheric passages tinged with instances of subdued puissance. -Matt Howarth

  4. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    From Synth & Sequences
    It begins with winds. Dark winds tinted of dark voices which drift away like breaths of Aeolus through the monoliths of the Norwegian deserts. Up to here, the opening of this 3rd section of Silent Currents nests in the familiarity with the colossal double cd released hardly two years ago. And it’s normal. Normal because Silent Currents 3 draws its genesis of the same source;

    Silent Currents / Live at Star’s End 2010 and released on the American label Projekt in 2011 (PRO262). The atmospheres, the tears of spectral guitars, the synths and their morphic movements and melodious winds, the dusts of these winds and their elvish singings surround a quite new rhythmic and sonic approach that Erik Wollo sculptured in the shade of his synths and guitars in its Wintergarden Studio in Norway. And the result is very charming. I would go so far as to say that this Silent Currents 3 possesses attributes that its older brother didn’t have: a delicate symbiosis between the rhythms and the atmospheres.

    The first shimmers arrive as soon as in the 8th minute. The sonic pearls which shine in the lapping of water encircled into subterranean caves bring the listener to another level than the desert autumn winds. These streamings give birth to a fine rhythm which emerges one minute later with riffs delicately jerky which jump under the spectral lamentations of a dreamy six-string. Like an uncertain cha-cha, weakened by these ghostly pads which roar silently, the first stammerings of the rhythm of Silent Currents 3 are flowing with a surprising fluidity for such a dislocated junction. It faints in a broth of ambiences where roam these twisted lamentations of guitar and jingles of carillons which swirl in static winds while that the second phase of rhythm arises straight out with a finely jerky spiral staged on riffs which roll in loops under the howling streaks of an obsessive guitar. This phase of rhythm returns to lie down under its blanket of gleaming prisms which sparkle in winds coming from everywhere while the chain of riffs is reborn under another shape, kissing a line of resonant bass and borrowing the interesting territories of a mid-tempo filled by the fragrances of a black funk. And so goes Silent Currents 3.

    Drawing from the ethereal atmospheres of his 2010 Star’s End concert, Erik Wollo breathes of a fascinating creativity which kisses Steve Roach’s influences, for the clanic approaches, and Patrick O’Hearn’s for the black rhythms and melodies. The guitars which cry on the desertion of the iridescent winds tear away the sighs from the soul towards the second part. We float in a heart-rending phase where the tootings of the six-string kiss the astral waves which derive in search of lost souls. Mixing serenely his ambiences as much black as poignant to rhythms as fleeting than harmonious, Erik Wollo maintains this fragile balance of rhythms and atmospheres which make all the charm of this revisited Silent Currents. The section of the 23rd minute which binds to the 37th is simply divine. Patient, Wollo maintains a hearing interest by playing on an ambiospheric crescendo which leads to a very beautiful clanic rhythm. A rhythm finely drummed in the shadows of an ambient groove that a fusion guitar/synth caresses of breaths torn between the passion and the passivity until the 42nd minute. And these last minutes of Silent Currents 3 draw from the abyssal atmospheres of its genesis, but with a reshaping of the moods and an addition of prismic tones, like carillons embracing winds, which replace the lapping of waters. Carillons which sing and which swirl lasciviously, misleading always the listener who was delighted of these oniric ambiences.

    Silent Currents 3 is a lovely complement to Silent Currents. Erik Wollo would have given it another title than we would have been completely fooled. Of course, when we stick both works side by side we remark the precepts of Silent Currents. Drones, waves and layers of synths as well as lines of guitars as much disturbing, strange as meditative are of used as cloth of ambience to rhythms and to harmonious arrangements which infiltrate Silent Currents 3 like a sound river escaped from heavens. Beautiful, very beautiful! -Sylvain Lupari

  5. Reviews Editor

    Review  –:

    A review from Percorsi Musicali

    he drone music has developed different schools of thought:
    1) musicians addressed to a aseptic repetition of sound in compliance with the rules of Eno “…… Ambient music must be able to reach out to many levels of listening attention without exalt one in particular, must be as ignorable as it is interesting ……. “.
    2) musicians that have worked on some instruments, trying to amplify the nuances of harmonic waves (see the fruitful experiments of the Stars of the Lid)
    3) musicians that have tried to highlight its variability in the musical structure, with the same methods of a contemporary composer.
    If we consider the history of music you can certainly say that Erik Wollo was definitely one of the innovators trans-genre of the guitar, inserted in new construction specifically addressed to”soundscapes”; although his guitar style (which could effectively summed up in two words like “lost in space”) is one of his strengths, Wollo may be part of those dronists of ambient music in search of solutions: the ability to create vivid images with variable paths in a field which is experiencing a period of inflation for a long time, it may be the antidote to monotony. It is believed (and rightly) that the drone is an experiment in which deliberately miss a “characterization” of the sound, demonstrated by the fact that our ear is located in front of something that is just objectively recognizable but not attributable to an artist in particular: so the variety of solutions in the combination of sounds, where the drone is enriched by other types of sounds (concrete or electroacoustic) can certainly refute that thought. The Wollo’s Silent Currents have these properties: the 3rd episode (only digitally release) took place (such as those of the two previous volumes) in one of the radio transmissions made ​​at the Star’s End of Philadelphia, an historic place, a sort of temple of ambient/new age music live. The feeling is to enter into a mysterious underground passage aboard an ark and developing the imagination of the contingent situations: here, there is not only the usual impalpable fluctuations of sounds, Erik chooses the right sequences of drones (immediately actractive) that move their shapes within a structure designed, with the intrusion of electronic effects that banish the monotony and are presented as pieces of a mosaic: during the journey, in a patch of sunlight, from a source of unknown energy, we can hear Erik’s guitar that smells of beauty and life.


    La drone music ha sviluppato autonome correnti di pensiero:
    1) musicisti che hanno puntato ad una asettica riproposizione del suono in osservanza delle regole di Eno “……la musica Ambient deve essere capace di andare incontro a numerosi livelli di attenzione nell’ascolto senza esaltarne uno in particolare, deve essere tanto ignorabile quanto è interessante…….”;
    2) musicisti che hanno lavorato su alcuni strumenti cercando di amplificare le sfumature delle onde armoniche (vedi i fruttuosi esperimenti dei Stars of the Lid);
    3) musicisti che hanno evidenziato la sua variabilità nell’impianto strumentale cercando di sostituirsi a quello che in materia contemporanea dovrebbe fare un compositore.
    In un excursus temporale si può senz’altro affermare che Erik Wollo è stato senz’altro uno dei traghettatori trans-genere della chitarra, inserendola in nuove costruzioni specificatamente rivolte ai “paesaggi sonori”; sebbene il suo stile chitarristico (che potrebbe efficacemente sintetizzarsi in due parole come “perso nello spazio”) sia uno dei suoi punti di forza, Wollo potrebbe far parte di coloro che tra i dronisti della musica ambient ha cercato soluzioni: la capacità di creare immagini vivide con percorsi variabili in un settore che sta vivendo inflazione da molto tempo può essere l’antidoto della monotonia. Si ritiene (e non a torto) che il drone sia un’esperimento in cui manchi volutamente una “caratterizzazione” del suono, dimostrabile dal fatto che il nostro orecchio si trova di fronte a qualcosa che è solo oggettivamente riconoscibile ma non attribuibile ad un artista in particolare; ecco, quindi, che trovare combinazioni di suono in cui il drone viene arricchito da altri suoni (concreti o elettroacustici) può aiutare ad uscire da questo empasse. I Silent Currents di Wollo hanno queste proprietà: Wollo pubblica (solo digitalmente) il 3° episodio registrato come i precedenti in una delle trasmissioni radio effettuate allo Star’s End di Philadelphia, sede ormai diventata da tempo magnete e connettore della musica ambientale e new age soprattutto. La sensazione è di entrare in un sottopassaggio misterioso a bordo di un’arca sviluppando la fantasia delle situazioni contingenti: non c’è solo la solita fluttuazione sonora, che molte volte è impalpabile negli ascolti altrui, qui Erik sceglie sequenze di droni giuste che affascinano immediatamente per il fatto che si muovono all’interno di una struttura pensata, con l’intromissione di effetti elettronici che bandiscono la monotonia e si pongono come pezzi di un mosaico, dove, durante il viaggio, in uno squarcio di sole e come da una fonte sconosciuta di energia, spunta la sua chitarra che profuma di bellezza e di vita.

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