2 Revealed in Time
5 The Native Chant
6 Misty Blue
7 Within These Walls (remix)
8 Airborne 2
Vision – the state of being able to see; an experience within a dream or trance.
1: Echotides No 4 (from Echotides)
2: Revealed in Time (from Blue Radiance)
3: Gateway (from Gateway)
4: Visions (from Timelines)
5: The Native Chant (from Tundra)
6: Misty Blue (from Various Artists: Possibilities of Circumstance)
7: Within These Walls (remix) (from Black Tape for a Blue Girl: The Rope 25)
8: Airborne 2 (from Airborne)
This remastered $6.98 budget-priced collection brings together standout tracks from the twelve Projekt releases by this renowned Norwegian electronic artist. Visions highlights the cascading melodic and consonant lyrical side of Erik’s intuitively-crafted soundworlds. On these eight expressively performed and immaculately produced instrumentals, Erik’s luscious sense of harmony and narrative mix with insistent electronic rhythms. Propulsion and cyclical movement leave an invisible thread of optical insight in the wake of these essential moments.
Led by electric guitar, guitar synthesizer, and keyboard melodies, the songs build upon arcs of rhythms and layers of sequencer patterns with dramatic percussive punctuations, pulsating arpeggios and deep analog basses.
From the creative and deep journey reflected in 2010’s Gateway, to the expansive and wide-ranging landscapes on his latest 2015 EP, Echotides, these tracks reflect music rich in depth and colors with echoes of reminiscences and imaginary places, epic dimensions and a minimalist’s restrained elegance. “Misty Blue” and “Within These Walls (remix),” having only previously appeared on various artists collections, find Erik exploring versatile and perceptive territory.
Showcasing the beauty and elegance of tracks with a visual, crisp and immediate quality, Visions invites the listener into an hour of the impressive and kinetic music of Erik Wøllo.
“Wøllo’s music has an exuberance, an energy, that shoots straight through me. It’s the way the e-bow pulls notes out of the guitar and off into the far horizon, rising the whole time. It’s the analog bliss of those sharp sequencer lines bouncing out a rhythm. It’s the points where things dial down to an edge-of-ambient quiet that’s still loaded with kinetic potential. …the voyage is cool, smooth and pleasant.” – Hypnagogue
“For Erik Wøllo success is a simple measure of dedication to his artistic path. The beauty of his life in music is that every moment is a phenomenon described in a way that is both precise and deeply felt. With each release he becomes sharper and more confident. At the extreme high end of his skill set, Erik Wøllo offers an explanation of what it means to be human; … (his) epic realizations offer us a means to connect with this forgotten fundamental feeling.” – StarsEnd.org
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Reviews Editor –
Sul finire dello scorso anno la Projekt, a celebrazione del primo quinquennio del sodalizio contrattuale che la lega ad Erik Wøllo, ha rilasciato questo piccolo compendio dell’attività discografica del compositore norvegese nel periodo che va dal 2010 (anno in cui uscì l’album Gateway) al 2015 (nella cui estate è uscito l’EP Echotides). Un sodalizio proficuo che al momento ha già superato la dozzina di uscite sotto lo storico marchio statunitense, e che pare destinato a durare ancora a lungo, sebbene l’esperto artista scandinavo – attivo sin dal 1980 – si stia tenendo ancora qualche porta aperta per sporadiche uscite su altre label. Nella raccolta in esame, limitata ad una cinquantina di minuti e racchiusa in uno spartano ma gradevole eco-wallet, figurano otto brani del recente repertorio di Wøllo interamente rimasterizzati per l’occasione, due dei quali apparsi soltanto su altrettante compilation.
Una buona occasione per tutti quelli che ancora devono scoprire la dimensione sonora – interamente strumentale, lo ricordiamo – del longevo autore, sempre pacata, suadente ed avvolgente nel suo taglio squisitamente cinematico e non lontano da certa new age. ‘Visions’ sonore che divengono architetture di mondi ignoti, dalle melodie ‘acquose’ di “Echotides No. 4” alle cadenze etno/world di “The Native Chant”, passando per i temi sontuosi di “Revealed In Time” e la delicata eleganza della più ricca Visions, fino al recupero delle suddette tracce apparse solo su compilation: la gradevole “Misty Blue”, ripresa dal sampler del 2013 di casa Projekt “Possibilities Of Circumstance”, ed il buon remix dal piglio electro per “Within These Walls”, originariamente apparso sul tributo al celebre debut album dei Black Tape For A Blue Girl The Rope 25. Magari non particolarmente appetibile per chi già possiede tutti i brani inclusi, oltre che per via di una durata che poteva risultare più corposa, ma comunque un buon punto di partenza per chi ancora dovesse avvicinarsi all’arte di questo importante compositore, visto anche il prezzo speciale di 6,98 dollari al quale la Projekt lo propone. -Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi
Reviews Editor –
From The Grim Tower
For those of you who don’t know much about him, Erik Wollo is a Norwegian composer who has been composing soundscapes all of his life. If you’ll give his Wikipedia page a look, you’ll be astounded by just how many recordings he has released in their “selected discography” which means that there is actually much more to be had. Here especially is a good introduction to his pieces, a collection released earlier this year by Projekt. As I love to do, let’s take these song by song and try to convey the emotions displayed throughout each piece. As Wollo is most known for his electronic and ambient soundscapes, it seems perfect that the almost aquatic “Echotides No. 4” would start us off. It starts out rather light, like a flowing stream, but builds pressure as it increases to include a bit more activity and perhaps even a bit of a dancey vibe. It’s very meditative however, but not so slow that I would recommend it for something of an astral projection attempt. “Revealed In Time” comes next, and it feels a bit eighties. That’s fine with me, being a lover of that New Wave style. This feels like it could actually be used in a game title theme at first, perhaps during some silent story cutscenes. Like it’s predecessor, it increases to add more activity an becomes quite dancey. It still seems like it could be the theme for a science fiction game or visual novel, and I’ve heard similar approaches there. It’s pretty unreal, to be honest and I’m quite carried away by it. It certainly feels like it could introduce or illustrate something, which makes it an electronic soundscape with added weight. What the piece would introduce is up to people who are not I, but I do know that I’d love to hear as the soundtrack for an electronic medium in the future. It’s beautiful. “Gateway” makes me think of being on the bridge of a ship, often reminding me of the soundtrack used in a space-themed RPG. It fits too, and you won’t believe how well. It definitely feels trippy, but it also has a definite metallic vibe (as in steel, not heavy metal – I just didn’t want to say industrial) and also features a guitar (also, not comparing it to heavy metal music.) This piece only reminds me of some of the best atmosphere music I’ve heard in games, and I’m sure there will be lovers of that kind of music more than eager to buy this record just for the first three I’ve mentioned. “Visions” brings back that aquatic feel (and there’s still a guitar to be had here) which really makes it trip-worthy. This is the kind of track you’d want to listen to if you were looking for a good atmosphere while reading something very out there, perhaps as an instrumental backing to a muted film (not surprisingly, Wollo has provided many soundtracks to various films and documentaries around the world.) Like all of the others, it is a piece that I could listen to several times and not get tired of.
Now when we get to the second half of the disc, we’ll experience “The Native Chant” which begins with an actual chant and then seems to go into the underground of some odd planet, or maybe I’m thinking of the quirkiness of the Earthbound soundtrack. As the piece changes, it adopts a bit more bumpiness, which makes it a bit dancey. Again, this is still a very slow and meditative track, which isn’t the kind that one could properly cut a rug to. Perhaps this is more of a slow tribal dance, which I’m quite sure a few people have attempted whilst listening to the piece. “Misty Blue” features a bit of mystical whirring, some guitar and playful electronic beats that seem to make me think a little of Zeal from Chrono Trigger. You just sort of imagine the piece illustrating this massive floating island landmass, and you can sort of visualize that in your head. There are people on the island, and they live in these spectacular looking buildings, walking about their day as they work and toil in a realm that just seems incredible. The next piece we have is a remix of “Within These Walls” which has a bit of a seventies flair, with added guitar for good measure. I’m not real sure what the original sounded like, but I definitely like this remixed version and Wollo obviously thought it was better, which is why it is here instead of the original piece. I cannot stress how much lovers of atmospheric game music will enjoy these pieces. The final piece on this record is that of “Airborne 2” which starts out very misty. It later incorporates small crystalline melodies and eventually grows more upbeat as the listen continues.
It’s pretty easy to see why Erik Wollo is such an accomplished composer, as with just an hour’s worth of selected material, we’re delighted by what we’ve heard and I’m quite sold on the man’s ability. I’ve loved Steve Roach’s work for years, but I really seem to enjoy Wollo’s on a different level. As I said, these pieces sound like they could illustrate something and I can just picture the electronic mediums in which I’d hear them in. For the last time, if you love some of the electronic soundscapes used in video games today, you’ll absolutely love this collection and undoubtedly much of his other work. I’m really quite surprised to see that in several decades of gaming, Wollo hasn’t ever had a part in it. That could be due to personal choice, but I could definitely see a few games out there that would have greatly benefit from his work. Some developers can make great games with subpar soundtracks, and something like this could really, really help their causes. If you’re new to his music, please pick up this compilation and experience these very catchy soundscapes for yourself. It’s just a compilation, but I love it. Rating: 9/10
Reviews Editor –
With eight re-mastered selections taken from twelve Projekt releases, Visions offers a low-priced, hour-long sampling of work Norwegian electronic artist Erik Wollo produced between 2010 and 2015. His material sits comfortably alongside the work of other ambient-electronic artists, though Wollo’s distances itself from theirs in threading electric guitars, e-bow guitars, and guitar synthesizer (and even an occasional guitar solo) in amongst the usual electronic elements. He also opts for a rather more energy-charged presentation compared to the ambient norm, a move that in turn makes his tracks play less like wallpaper meditations than vibrant, melodic instrumentals.
The beatific, synthesizer-rich soundworld of his Echotides and Airborne releases are well-represented by the quiet splendour of the kinetic reveries “Echotides No 4” and “Airborne 2.” Blue Radiance‘s “Revealed in Time” flirts with New Age in merging synth whooshes with sequencer patterns before a tougher downtempo groove and chiming guitar figure add some welcome muscle to the proceedings. Percolating traces of ethno-tribalism work their way into the sound design of 2010’s stately “Gateway,” the Possibilities of Circumstance compilation track “Misty Blue,” and, even more overtly, Tundra‘s “The Native Chant.”
If there’s a downside to Visions, it’s that its content goes down perhaps a little too smoothly. In being so unfailingly harmonious and polished, material of Wollo’s kind can lack the kind of tension and edge that would make it register more powerfully. There’s no disputing the beauty of the music and the immaculateness of its presentation, but some small degree of dissonance or rawness wouldn’t be unwelcome.
Reviews Editor –
From Synth & Sequences
What a way to discover all the charms of Erik Wollo!
Is there softer and more electronic than the music of Erik Wollo? And Visions-A Collection of Music by Erik Wollo is exactly there to show it to you. I never was and still am not a fan, or a defendant, of compilations. I understand that in X-Mas commercial times, the labels try to refloat their safes with compilation albums. The pretext is ideal! The money suckers want to make discover the music of an artist by a collection of successful titles where hide 1 or 2 unreleased pieces of music. A little as here where Visions-A Collection of Music by Erik Wollo hides a brand new track, but what a track, and another one which was hidden on this very good compilation of the label Projekt, Possiblities of Circumstance released on autumn 2013. The only difference here is the real reach of this compilation which aims above all at making know the music of Erik Wollo. As prove its prices; $5 for the download version or $7 for a manufactured CD. Admit that at this price, there is no more reason now to not be tempted by this very nice sonic journey into lyrism.
The selection is divided well between a music bearer of dreams, as “Echotides No 4” and its structure which oscillates like a thousand streams under the sea breams of the sun, and good down-tempos where nests a beautiful ballad approach as in “Revealed in Time” from the solid Blue Radiance album. Visions-A Collection of Music by Erik Wollo makes an overview of the 5 solo albums, excluding some EP, that Erik Wollo produced on the Projekt label since he arrived in 2010 with the Gateway album from which the extract proposed here, the title-track, leads us towards a more tribal trance that an ethereal vision of Wollo. “Visions” from Timelines is doubtless the track which is the closest to the New Age nuances of the bard Scandinavian whereas “The Native”, which is rather recent by the way, plunges us into his attraction for the ambient tribal moods. It’s a powerful track with a good lively structure. Decorating the delights of Possiblities of Circumstance, the slide guitar of “Misty Blue” is as much bewitching as its melody forged in the ringings with a scent of Halloween. Here also the structure is heavy but very hypnotic. “Within These Walls”, the only real newness of this compilation, is a remix of Black Tape for a Blue Girl song. Here, the Peter Murphy’s Gothic genre is transposed into a more oniric approach with long woosh which make roll the loops, both riffs and crystal clear sequences, in a permutation of the woosh for astral voices. From oniric, the crystal clear tempo becomes heavy with good muted pulsations and percussions of false wood which resound shyly. Tears of guitars tears it up with ghostly harmonies which float among the resilient ringings of the crystal clear sequences. “Airborne 2” concludes this good compilation with a slightly spasmodic structure of rhythm. We hear a kind of panting from riffs and the sequences blowing over good sober percussions and bass pulsations. Structuring so a passive, but all the same, a nervous rhythm where the melody is assured by a minimalist approach of a piano which plays very well on its nuances. It’s reflecting very well the contemporary universe of Erik Wollo who always floods us with his very airy solos. Solos which float with perfumes of bitterness.
Of course that I’m already that I am conquered to the universe of Erik Wollo! The music of the Scandinavian bard possesses an identity that we don’t hear anywhere else, conferring it a cachet which is more than unique seen its approach all the same rather intimist, otherwise very personal. Always flirting with the borders of New Age, Erik Wollo admirably knows how to play on these limits by diving into the tribal ambient and sometimes transic kinds while giving an electronic side into a music on which are always roaming harmonies that we imagine to whistle on ice floes of his Norway. -Sylvain Lupari