2: Inversion, part 2 (3:32)
3: Inversion, part 3 (4:20)
4: Inversion, part 4 (5:11)
5: Inversion, part 5 (5:12)
6: Inversion, part 6 (4:05)
7: Inversion, part 7 (4:55)
Inversion: changing something into the opposite, turning it upside down. Seeing things from a different perspective.
The minimal electronic music on Erik Wøllo’s seven-track Inversions mini-album was performed entirely on electric guitars in his living room in Norway. They’re inward meditations of stillness and reflection — an emotional mapping of the mind, weightless and beautifully contemplative.
“As a composer and musician for 40 years, musical ideas surround my mind all the time. My musical flow becomes an important part of who I am, it becomes a way of living. The best musical ideas often arrive in the middle of doing something else. In order to catch these ideas as they appear, I have guitars and loopers available in the rooms of my house. In fact, in my kitchen there is a nice spot for rehearsing, and I have a guitar and a looper always available ready to record. Over the last few years this has resulted in a lot of interesting, intuitive and exciting sketches. For this EP I collected some of the best performances into a suite in 7 short episodes (totaling 30 minutes). All of these tracks are performed on various electric guitars, looping pedals and effects. No synthesizers. Very minimalistic, ambient and abstract experimental. I use a lot of backwards techniques and play against these. Inverting the intervals, scales or phrases. Reversing the order of the musical material inside the compositions.”
“Later in my studio I played back the looper machines into two guitar amps in stereo, giving the music a smooth-colored sound. I recorded them using my best microphones to capture the performances and also to capture some of the acoustic room ambience. I wanted a close up and spontaneous living room feel on the whole album. A calm here-and-now attitude, at the same time with a lot of space. A kind of macro/micro perspective, like an astronaut sitting in a space station looking down on earth thinking about the dinner smell at his home kitchen far down there on earth. Or vice versa.”
Inversions is an ethereal sonic experience where emotional atmospheres flow within slowly evolving ambient textures, music with gentle and quiet passages created in beautiful real-time performances.
Reviews Editor –
From Star’s End
Characterized by its simplicity and clarity Inversions (30’46”) feels true to life. Here Erik Wøllo has managed to record seven gentle, soul-strengthening pieces of a quality more profound and resonant than most artists working in a similar vein. Spontaneously conceived and executed by conducting the output of his electric guitar into digital devices and effects this kind of improvising requires just as much listening as it does playing. The impulsive quality also notes a disarming honesty – an unfiltered truth. It is with great care and taste that Wøllo casts his tender spell of beauty. In just the right mixture of the earthly and the celestial he provides promising moments of affecting sentiment – that taken together convey a singular message.
In a tone florid and rounded Inversions confers an aura of perpetually becoming. This collection of spacey slow burners gains slight bursts of color as ideas flow melodiously, rising out of experimental inclinations. A misty melancholy permeates as Wøllo charts a descent into darkness, and back. Coarse then sweet, timbre, melody and harmony divide our attention. Here and there the fog lifts a little bit, and we find reeling stars and midnight things. In an orchestra of looping lines a mournful lead line flickers like a lonely candle in the wind of time. Then the embattled twilight succumbs to a re-invasion of shadows. Listening our way through to the back end of evening we will notice that this musical spellwork is driven less by technology than it is by yearning and resignation – the most remote of all circuitry. Throughout these minimal passages and entrancing transformations the slightest gesture becomes much more significant. By avoiding the long and formless Wøllo builds an enjoyable ambient charisma of minute detail. The sound surface changes from feathery to hard edged, evoking a landscape terrain as surely as it does the amorphous aether above it. For the duration of this release the tone is intimate, but then so is the scale – a rare and cherishable quality in Spacemusic. Inversions presents a beguiling sonic sense – so much so that we owe it proof that we will one day become as free and as open as it asks us to be. -Chuck van Zyl
Reviews Editor –
From Sonic Immersion
For me, Norwegian multi-instrumental artist Erik Wøllo belongs to the league of artists making it hard to keep up with the high speed of releases. Inversions was fully recorded in Mr. Wøllo’s house in his kitchen as well as his living room. To create the outcome, Erik used various electric guitars, looping pedals, and effects but no synthesizers.
Instantly recognizable as a Wøllo-work of sonic art, the release features a series of connected instrumental pieces as well as intuitive, exciting sketches all breathing something of a pleasant but darker sensibility. It’s a complete sound world, a nicely rendered suite in 7 short minimalist episodes with a total length of 30 minutes built upon long suspended notes, drones, and textures. As such paint a contemplative, almost meditative sonic canvas before the listeners’ ears that heads toward a state of serenity, stillness, and reflection as it floats along. -Bert Strolenberg
Reviews Editor –
From Audion 69
I’d always been curious about the Norwegian guitarist/multi-instrumentalist Erik Wøllo, even though his work would often be too easy listening or too melodic synth based for me, convinced that if he did something darker and less melodic it could be wonderful. Well, in the tradition of “all good things come to those that wait”, here we have such a dark and deep album that’s so much more engaging than anything else I’ve heard from him. Seven tracks of an average 4 minutes, each one is a vivid painting of guitar patterns, deep hanging dronescapes and pan-dimensional reverb. I guess the only way he could have improved it would have been to make it longer.
Reviews Editor –
Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Erik Wøllo’s latest release is said to be an EP, though by some standards at 31 minutes it’s long enough to be considered a full-length album. This is Wøllo’s second release of 2022, after Sojourns in February, and it isn’t even summer yet; he released three in 2021, so he may not be finished for the year. Like so many other ‘ambient’ composers, he is certainly prolific (as of the previous release he has 50 albums to his credit), but Inversions is one of his best in recent memory. His primary instrument is the electric guitar, though one has to understand that along with that guitar come numerous effects and of course the studio itself, where all of the magic becomes real. He has been at his craft since the early 80s, and after a couple jazz recordings in the ECM style, he began his journey of ambient guitar soundscapes in earnest in 1985 with Traces, and by 1990’s Images of Light he was well on his way.
Today his work is instantly recognizable, yet he rarely repeats the same ideas twice, preferring to always move ahead and cover new ground. The seven tracks are simply titled “Inversion Part 1,” “Inversion Part 2” etc. as they go, the first entering gently with shimmering textures and sparkling patterns on a seeming dark palette of starlit colorations, gently soothing the soul. Each of the seven “Inversions” is a discrete number that is distinct from the others and don’t crossfade, and never overstay their welcome. “Part 2” features howling melodies soaring over a beautiful shimmering wind, with what seem like voices off in the distance. All tracks are in the three to five minute range and use clever sonic articulations as a method of holding the listener’s interest, though throughout the melodies are strong and resonant. “Part 4” seems to open into a dark and mysterious dream, wandering forward into a saturated mix of rich colors and gentle crosscurrents, far from where it began. Another standout is “Part 6,” where Wøllo uses a looper to create a mysterious cyclical dreamlike adventure that introduces scintillating elements as it proceeds. All taken, the seven tracks of Inversions are some of the most interesting and engaging ambient pieces that Wøllo has done to date. -Peter Thelen
reviews editor –
Dave Aftandilian writes on Bandcamp:
Bright, immersive, and buoyant dream-fragments. Listening is like floating on a cloud, feeling the sunlight wash over you, cleansing the darkness and anxiety. Even the more shadowed tracks have a tenderness to them, like the caress of purple twilight at the end of the day, or a gentle, percussive rain soothing your upturned face.