3 The Open Room
5 The Emeralds
7 Dark Eyed Drum
8 Silver Beach
9 Little Big Tune
10 Mountain Train
13 The Wintergarden Ethereal
This is a digital-only re-release of a classic electronic album from the eighties that hasn’t been available for some time. Silver Beach is Erik’s most rhythmic album consisting of fifteen intense and stunning tracks from his early career. At the time, Electronic music was still in its early stages, and the MIDI revolution had just started to influence the way artists made music.
The original Silver Beach album (tracks 1-8) was released on vinyl on the Norwegian label Cicada Records in 1986. In 1988 the album was released on CD (also Cicada) and included the additional and very rhythmical tracks “Little Big Tune” and “Mountain Train.” The album was re-released on CD on the Spanish label Margen Records in 2005, remastered and fine-tuned with 5 additional previously unreleased tracks from the same era.
“Silver Beach is my fourth album and represented a new direction in my career. More rhythmic sequenced and groove oriented than what I previously had done, this is my rock album! Originally, most of this music was composed when I was living in a very small flat in the center of Oslo, Norway. I remember I had the studio in a corner of the living room. Like Traces (my second album from 1985), all music was electronic and made using the latest MIDI technology at that time. Everything was composed and recorded on the now vintage Roland MSQ700, and all the diverse synths and rack modules were mixed directly down to 2 track analog tape (no multitrack tape was used).
“When I remastered the album I tried to keep the spirit of the originals. Yet at the same time I wanted to add certain details to make it more complete. All my albums represents a certain chapter in my life. In many ways the music reflects how to live in a particular time. Different musical styles come and go, but I have always tried to find my own way.
“Silver Beach has not been available for some time. But this album does seem to refuse to die! A lot of people have asked for it, and where to get it. This inspired me to make a new and updated version. Here it is again. Enjoy!” – Erik Wøllo, Norway, November 2013
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Reviews Editor –
From Synth & Sequences
We often imagine Erik Wollo’s musical universe as being of ambiences and dreams. And it’s a little bit true. The Norwegian multi-instrumentalist knew always how to catch the hearing by beautiful melodies sewn in the corridors of his Scandinavian sensibility. Nevertheless, albums such as Emotional Landscapes, although timid, Gateway and more recently Airborne were the witnesses of a sonic universe where the rhythms were surrounded by melodies always mesmerizing. It’s a bit much what waits for us with this new edition of Silver Beach. New edition because this Erik Wollo’s 4th solo album initially hit the market, with 8 tracks, in 1986 by the means of the Norwegian label Cicada Records. Two years later, Silver Beach was launch out in a CD format, always on Cicada Records, with 2 music pieces in bonus. And finally the Spanish label Margen Records gave to it a new sonic skin in 2005 with 5 other tracks in bonus.
Recently, Wollo shares his intimist and new works via the download platform of the American label Projekt Darkware. And it it’s in this stride that he offers this long time out of print album in a quite new sonic skin. A request asked from a lot of his fans, old ones as new ones. At its release, Silver Beach showed a new orientation in Erik Wollo’s career. The Scandinavian bard abandoned his guitar for rhythms and melodies purely electronic conceived entirely on the MIDI technology and on the use of the Roland MSQ700. Less dreamy and more direct, Silver Beach proposed a style clearly more dynamic than the first 3 opuses of Wollo. In fact, Wollo qualified this album as being his rock album!
And that begins with the brusque rhythm of “Four”. The movement is circular and hypnotic with chords which rub themselves and collide with skilfully mixed tones, shaping a strange circular race which reminds an auk on acid running awkwardly on the timescales of a clock. The approach reminds me a little of the dance of Michael Stearns’ auks in Plunge while the melodious envelope, which walks in the shade of the rhythm, reminds me of Forever the Optimist from Patrick O’Hearn. This reference to O’Hearn will stick to our ears throughout the scrolling of the 15 tracks of “Silver Beach”. And this no matter the time of the writing. Let’s take “Panorama” and its organic tick-tock which resounds in the soft pads of a melancholic synth and of its delicate ethereal harmonies. I hear O’Hearn at full ears. After the melancholic “The Open Room” and its slow melody which bears the world on its shoulders, “Journey” throws us in the curt and circular rhythms of “Four” but with more lasciviousness. With “The Emeralds”, we fall in the realm of the soft morphic ballads cheered up by sweet harmonious chords. The rhythm is slow, sometimes heavy, based on good percussions and a good bass line with nervous notes while the harmonies are weaved in the tears of a synth and its intense chords of glass which sing.
The ballads here abound. After the ambient carousel of “Crystal-Ice” which swirls in the somber pads of a pensive synth, “Dark Eyed Drums” draws our attention immediately with its heavy strikings of percussions which strike simultaneously our left and right eardrum. The mood is as well heavy as intriguing with a dark approach where the synth whistles a soporific melody filled by a melancholic approach. Moreover the whole of “Dark Eyed Drums” soaks into an intense dramatic approach deserving of a dramatic and suspense movie where the beautiful one is dying, even if the melody clears up to sound with more optimism in our ears. We are full in the 80’s with this ballad of the MTV kind. It’s very beautiful. The title-track enclosed “Silver Beach” smoothly with synth pads which sing over a twinkling water. The arrangements are attractive and drag the tears of cellos which sigh over this sonic bed with waters of prism.
“Little Big Tune” is the first bonus track on the first reedition of 1998. And it’s a heavy one with a rhythm which resounds and pulsates as much as that the melody clinks in our ears with its chords as crystal clear as crystallized water. “Mountain Train” is also a heavy track with its rhythm which beats of its big but fluid hypnotic tick-tocks and its sweet melody, very artless but quite catchy, sewn in fluty breaths. If these two tracks give more punch and rhythm to Silver Beach, “Recitation” returns us into Erik Wollo’s Scandinavian ambiences with an ambient melody which haunts the listening with synth lines which sing like angels who have a cold on a delicate spheroidal rhythm. After the black hypnotic ritornello of “Chime”, “Wintergarden Ethereal” inhales the poetry of its naming with seraphic breaths which float on a delicate ambient rhythm. It’s some beautiful ambient music, as well as “Lakeside” which was written 9 years later, like “Sequenza”; a long minimalist track, with subtle variations, essentially based on the art of the rhythmic sequencing. This is very good. Erik Wollo weaves a hypnotic rhythmic pattern where the jumping keys walk on their shadows in order to create a rhythmic synergy which borders a shape of trance. The harmonious ingredients, such as the chimed notes, the drops of prism and the sibylline airs of synth are the heart of the harmonies that the Scandinavian musician knew always how to exploit with finesse.
In spite of its more rock look, Silver Beach conserves all the nuances of pastel from Erik Wollo’s sound universe. And I understand those who wanted a reedition, because it is really a beautiful album where the ethereal rocker is always well rooted in his silky foggy mosaic. It’s a beautiful album where the rhythms take all the forms and where the atmospheres float in all their colors without ever denying Erik Wollo’s soft harmonious visions. Certainly there are tracks which bang rather hardly, but never enough to divert us because the harmonious envelopes which surround them inhale the Erik Wollo whom we always knew. Yes Silver Beach deserves its 4th life and yes Erik Wollo is always as good as I said it. -Sylvain Lupari
Reviews Editor –
From Sonic Curiosity
This album was originally released in 2005 and has been remastered and reissued in 2013 and features 73 minutes of sprightly electronic music. Here, Wollo’s music is livelier. Sparkling electronics are etched with dreamy tonalities and driven by snappy rhythms. The electronics a generally crystalline, glittery and ambrosial. Bell tones play a vital role in numerous tracks.
Granted, a majority of what one perceives as “electronics” is undoubtedly processed guitar. Besides a skillful hand at keyboard-generated electronics, Wollo is very adept at molding guitarisms into textural resonances. Those latter tend to shimmer with a ghostly demeanor. A degree of percussion (mostly artificial) gives this tuneage a sense of pep that is otherwise rare in Wollo’s current music. Yet, elements of this ambience-to-come are evident, lurking within the mix and flavoring the animated songs with a vaporous undercurrent. There are, though, incidents in which the beats become quite demonstrative and up-front.
These compositions exhibit a more adventurous predilection, injecting a bouncy presence into the flowing electronics, resulting in glistening music whose substance can be authoritative while retaining a hint of tender fluidity. A few tunes possess quite memorable melodies. Notably, this music is more structured with gentle melodies than his other releases. -Matt Howarth