1 Inception (6:40)
2 Blue Rondo (7:01)
3 Color of Mind (5:02)
4 Visions (6:11)
5 Pathfinder (7:29)
6 Spirit of the Place (5:16)
7 Along the Journey (6:39)
8 Timescape (4:55)
9 Ocean (5:21)
Total time 54:34
Echoes writes, “Norwegian guitarist and synthesist Erik Wøllo returns with his devastatingly beautiful CD of electro-orchestrated moods.”
Timelines was selected as Echoes Radio’s February 2014 CD of the month.
Timelines is the 18th solo album from veteran Norwegian ambient/electronic artist Erik Wøllo. It’s a warm, epic and shimmering cycle of memorable electronic music. Noted for his many Echoes Radio albums of the month – and placement on “Best of the Year” lists at Amazon, Zone Music Reporter, Schallwelle Award (Germany), and others – Timelines continues in that tradition with nine engaging pieces exploring the idea of music and time: how elements of past, present and future affect a listener’s perceptions.
Layers of acoustic guitar loops and pulsation-patterns create the foundation on which Wøllo’s distinct melodic piano themes are played. The pieces bring emotional synth lines and powerful deep basses together with delicate percussion arrangements. As a natural and important counterpoint to the expressive piano themes, Wøllo’s electric guitar ebow solos are both intense and haunting.
“I started most of these songs with just an acoustic guitar,” Wøllo reflects, “composing and recording them in the same order you hear on the album. I created the arrangements, adding other elements, building and sculpting the compositions in time. I have always been interested in timelines and schemes that show how time can be measured, and how we relate to them. Each of the tracks was conceived as part of a suite exploring the ideas and aspects of time and consonance. And how these elements go together, and how music as an artform is a manipulation of time. But the interesting clue here is of course how we relate to time in our body when we actually hear the music. And how our experiences and memories – as well as present circumstance – affect our hearing of the music. When I made this album, I was more aware of these ideas then ever before.”
Wøllo’s background in 70s prog-rock is noticeably present on this album. Strong rich themes, chords and rhythms all lead towards crescendos and counterpoints within the songs. Well-structured, yet all the while retaining a spacious ambient and cinematic feel, Timelines is a natural continuation of the electronic palette heard on Wøllo’s recent albums Gateway (2010) and Airborne (2012), as well as his collaborations with Steve Roach: Stream of Thought (2009) and The Road Eternal (2011).
Timelines is an accessible and inviting album: an occasion with which the listener can discover involving music that combines rhythmic grooves and atmospheres with recognizable lyrical passages.
Release Date: February 4, 2014
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Reviews Editor –
From Relaxed Machinery
Timelines is, if I am right, 18th solo album by Norwegian iconic ambient guitarist Erik Wøllo. Released in February 2014 as his 4th solo opus for Projekt in attractive 4-panel digipak with catchy front cover photo by Oxa and additional inside/back cover digital images by Erik. Sam Rosenthal is credited for a graphic design.
“Inception” ignites the journey with gorgeously unfolding widescreen panoramas masterfully merged with filigree string and piano magic and percussive subtleties. Hauntingly embracing melodies take the center stage and smoothly evolve into expressively nuanced orchestrations. Top-notch opener showcasing Erik Wøllo at the very peak of his trademarking blending of the acoustics with electronics. More please!!! “Blue Rondo” unfolds with tranquilly expansive piano motifs, but soon the track moves into sparkily colored paths, when pulsing synthetic percussions sneak in and slowly evolve into broader rhythmic horizons, outstandingly undulating and glowing. Evocative shrilling stringed vistas reveal as well. Another excellent composition, welcome to the musically superior paradise owned by this crafted Norwegian!!! “Color Of Mind” immediately attracts with swirling effects, but soothing pristine acoustic strings and warmly cinematic piano nostalgia steal the show. Velvety crescendos paint some truly charming images. “Visions” straightly shift into utterly laid-back heaven guarded by percussive clapping and shaking shimmers, dreamy synth delicacies, cheerful strings and poignant piano theme. These chillout euphonies are also occasionally pierced by virtuosic ebow insignias. This is certainly Erik Wøllo at his most tranquillizing, an ultimate Hall of Fame composition, bravo!!! “Pathfinder”, with 7 and half minutes the longest piece, features highly expansive choir-like washes precisely coupled with ear-tickling mesmerizing grooves and spikier rhythms, again powerfully evocative and soothingly translucent. “Spirit Of The Place” blends joyful acoustic strings with rattling tribal essences, but soon pleasantly melodious passages invade and wander across. “Along The Journey” opens with distant glimpses, then warmly expressive piano joins the stage along with flimsy percussions and delicate strings. The composition later inconspicuously transmutes into intenser movements, gorgeously meandering and proficiently reinforced by ebow swells. Be prepared for another triumphant and intricately rewarding listening experience!!! The shortest, nearly 5-minutes long “Timescape” reveals with misty sceneries and serene amalgamate of strings and piano, which are quickly bridged with lyrical richness, exquisitely accomplished and deeply moving. Another masterpiece!!! “Ocean” closes this ride with beautifully immense realms coalescing hazy organics with warmly embracing driftscapes. Utterly sublime outro!!!
Timelines album is completely loaded with Erik Wøllo’s extraordinary mastery, so all I can do is to applaud and shout “Bravo, Maestro!!!”. This is an audiophile sound quality elixir for my ears, so don’t miss this beauty!!! But this is not the alone stellar performance by this ace during 2014, because Erik Wøllo has released in the meantime another two very strong recordings. Firstly, Tundra was released in July on Projekt in limited edition of 200 copies, unfortunately, as far I know, it’s sold out already. And then, about two weeks ago, his second collaboration with German soundsculptor Bernhard Wöstheinrich was released on Ian Boddy’s DiN label. It’s entitled Weltenuhr and it’s another gem, but that’s the next story… -Richard Gürtler
Reviews Editor –
I quite enjoy Erik Wøllo’s signature sound, even though in past reviews I have mentioned that I feel it can make new releases come off as too familiar. That being said, I’m happy to toss that consideration out the window as I sit back and launch into yet another round of listening to Timelines. And, oh, my friends, there have been a lot of repeat listens. I am going all-in for more of the wailing guitar singing out across broad, descriptive sonic vistas. I am very much on board for the windswept washes of sound and romantic piano fills. I am once again diving headlong into the simple bliss of digging an Erik Wøllo album, over and over. On this release, Wøllo started with melodies picked out on acoustic guitar, then built up from there. As always, the layers are perfectly piled together, complex forms crafted out of loops and infused with melodies. For me, what works best on Timelines are small touches of texture Wøllo brings in to differentiate this release from others. For example, the way jazzy brushstroke drums add a cool flair to “Pathfinder,” paired with analog-glitch rhythms and gossamer pads. It’s a smooth blend of beat and drift. On “Color of Mind,” beautiful acoustic fretboard work lays down a core that’s as steady as a sequencer–if Windham Hill made a sequencer. And you know, I just can’t help myself–every time that signature guitar sound rises up out of nowhere, headed for the far horizon on a solid wave of sustain, I get chills. It always works. There are stretches in “Along the Journey” where that sound meets up with Oldfield-style trills and the effect is nothing short of soul-stirring. It ranks right up there with my favorite Wøllo tracks.
So, yes: Timelines is familiar territory for Wøllo fans, but as always it’s a very pleasant place to visit. Emotional and filled with sonic imagery, it absolutely demands repeat listens. Superb work from a true master of the craft.
Reviews Editor –
Nel 18esimo album solista di una carriera ormai ultratrentennale (l’esordio “Where It All Begins” usciva nel lontano 1983), l’esperto e stimato sound designer norvegese torna alla maggior ricchezza sonora del lavoro del 2010 Gateway, dopo che con Airborne (2012) l’influenza dei due dischi realizzati con l’altro nume tutelare Steve Roach si era fatta sentire in un sound molto più dilatato e lineare. Come da copione alle prese con svariate chitarre (acustica, elettrica, guitar synth, slide/fretless/Ebow), basso, tastiere, campionatori, percussioni e programming, l’artista scandinavo esplora stavolta gli svariati aspetti del concetto di tempo, anche applicati a come ascoltiamo la musica ed a come esperienze e ricordi, così come le attuali circostanze, influenzino il nostro modo di ascoltarla.
Temi sempre assolutamente intriganti, così come il consueto stimolante artwork che adorna l’essenziale digipack: punti di partenza ideali per lasciare che il suono si libri leggero e rasserenante, fra linee ambientali che si intrecciano magicamente alle trame di chitarra, ritmi percussivi organici pienamente funzionali ad un groove leggero ma palpabile, melodie di piano che con poche note catturano all’istante, bassi vividi ed i consueti magnetici crescendo d’intensità guidati dalla Ebow. Suoni cristallini ed arrangiamenti preziosi permettono alle composizioni di scorrere in piena armonia, come nella cullante opener “Inception”, o nella dolce e pregiata “Visions”, o nelle movenze ‘liquide’ della conclusiva “Ocean”, o ancora in una “Pathfinder” più carica di groove, dove i suoni sanno farsi pregnanti anche nella loro estrema leggerezza. La classe e la maestria del compositore scandinavo non sono minimamente in discussione, così come non lo è il suo immane talento nel rifinire alla perfezione gemme sonore in bilico fra ambient, new age e downtempo con un pathos evocativo che in pochi sanno catturare con tale forza e ispirazione: tutti fattori che rendono le sue opere sempre degne della massima attenzione e mai dispersive, il che vale ovviamente anche per questo Timelines, altro tassello pregiato in una discografia tutta da scoprire ed assaporare. Rating: 8 -Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi
Reviews Editor –
An interview with Ambient Visions
Ambient Visions: When did you release your last album before Timelines?
Erik Wøllo: I released Silent Currents 3 last year. It is a full length live album from Star’s End, the late night radio show in Philadelphia hosted by Chuck Van Zyl. The album is currently only available as digital download. It is very ambient and contains just one long continuous track with several parts fading in and out of each other. The music is similar to the double CD Silent Currents 1-2, which was released in 2011. Last year I also released an updated and remastered version of Silver Beach, originally released in 1986. And I released a digital EP, called Celestia.
AV: What do you do musically between releases? Did you have Timelines in mind once you were finished up with your last release?
EW: I started to work on Timelines in March (2013) last year. This was something I had been planning to do once I was finished with all the other releases. My previous full length studio album was Airborne, which was released in 2012. I also try to release a couple of small EP format collections for download, between the major full length releases. Like Celestia, Crystal Bells and Nocturnes. I always compose new material, and some of it does work very well as smaller format releases. Almost like “novellas”.
As a full time musician and composer, I have a lot of other projects in addition to writing new music for album releases. Last year I wrote a new piece for large wind orchestra and I also reworked my string quartet “Unity” from 2002. I was chosen as “Composer of the year 2013” by Ny Musikk in Norway and got several of my works performed during the year. It is an organisation that arranges events for contemporary music. So I had a lot of work with that.
And I also composed an electronic score for a new video animation by artist Sven Påhlsson. It is an experimental work for 9 large synchronized screens in a circle, and it was shown for six months at the Norwegian National Gallery in Oslo. We have been working together for several years, and our works have been showed in major art galleries all over the world (our first work was at the Venezia Biennale in Italy, 1997).
AV: The title of your latest release is Timelines which to my ears has a sci-fi feel to it. Tell me about the title of your new album and why you chose it to represent the songs on this project.
EW: My background in 70s prog-rock is noticeably present on this album. And both the album title and the cover kind of reflect that. I have always been interested in timelines and schemes that show how time can be measured, and how we relate to them, and how music as an art form is a manipulation of time.
I sometimes get letters from Sci-Fi fans, so there must be a connection here. My music is often connected to these ideas. I tend to search for new and fresh sounds that have a certain futuristic vibe. And I guess that the time element is very important in the sci-fi movie and literature, maybe that is why my music seems to attract people who like everything from “2001: A Space Odyssey” to “Stalker”.
AV: Is the meaning of the title reflected in the music that you composed for this album? What comes first the album title or the music?
EW: Very often I find all the titles after the music is finished. This time, I had the album title and all the other song names ready before I started on the album. Naming my compositions is important to me, and I spend a lot of time on it. I try to find titles that are not too specific; I just want to point the listener towards a direction or an idea. It is similar to an exhibition of paintings. If there is a very abstract painting, it is cool to see that the title can be very concrete and vice versa. I am very much into modern art, and I go to exhibitions wherever I can. It is at these exhibitions that I also occasionally find (and steal…) interesting titles!
I have always been interested in how to show the phenomenon of various types of time. Everything from historical timelines to the running timeline in my computer sequencer when I work on my music. Music is the most time based of all art forms, and as an artist I am very aware of that. When a musician goes on stage and starts to play, he dictates the time. I am also very interested in history, so that is another aspect that influences and colors my music.
AV: When you start work on a new album like Timelines or on music that will eventually be on a new album how do you go from absolutely nothing to having an idea of what you want the finished album to be or sound like?
EW: I spend most of the time in my studio working on very small segments of sound. It could be a loop or a patch on one my many synthesizers or a special tuning making nice overtones on my guitar. I transform these elements into a sound file that can hopefully be a starting point for a composition later. I put it into my library of new sounds for instant recall. So these sound files have to be very specific and unique, they have to inspire and trigger me!
On Timelines these starting points were all loops created on acoustic guitars, composing and recording them in the same order you hear on the album. I often do this kind of work in my home valley Hemsedal (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hemsedal ) in Norway, where I was born. I load up my car with a lot of gear and drive for 5 hours, and I stay there for a couple of weeks. I walk in the mountains during the day, and work late nights with new music and sounds.
Back in my studio on Hvaler on the south coast of Norway where I live, I will then create the arrangements, adding other elements, building and sculpting the compositions in time.
After working on the compositions for a while, they tend to take on a life of their own life. You have to just follow the stream, and let the song and its structures lead you on. Once the forms and arrangements are finished, that is often when the real hard work begins which means mixing and mastering it in the best way you can. I always try to keep that first idea and mood, and not forget why I chose this particular song in the first place.
AV: Was there anything specific that you wanted to try in terms of feel or style that you wanted to incorporate into Timelines?
EW: More than on my latest albums, I wanted to combine the acoustic elements with the electronic elements and then arrange everything in an orchestral way. Two of my previous albums, Guitar Nova and Blue Sky, Red Guitars are both very acoustic guitar based. I wanted to go back and use some of those ideas again but this time use the guitars as an underlying element together with the synthesizers to make the music organic and engaging. So it is all very electronic, but with an acoustic vibe.
The melodic elements are more fragmented this time; more sparse with a lot of space between the phrases. They are almost like poems with very few words, where you can read a lot of meaning between the lines.
Also Timelines is a more groove based project than some of my previous albums. It is a combination of very close and down to earth rhythmical elements together with an overall spacious sound design. It is music that is grounded, but at the same time makes you gaze upwards at the wondrously endless sky all with a certain feel of darkness that balances the light.
AV: Tell me about the electronic gear, software or instruments that you used to perform and record Timelines?
EW: On almost all tracks there is the acoustic guitar that kind of lives its own life inside the mix of all the other instruments. If you hear these guitars only in solo, they will still sound interesting. That was my idea, kind of a way of thinking that I got from working a lot on African music where every element must have its own separate life. The guitars were all close miced, and there are lots of layers of repeated arpeggios.
I used a special sampled layered piano sound this time, to give the main themes a certain depth. This became a very important element on Timelines. I have named the patch “Futuristic Piano”, so another Sci-Fi element here. I used piano on Airborne also, but that was another sample, more ordinary sounding. There is a mix of hardware and software synthesizers on Timelines. I tend to use my hardware synthesizers on the more important parts, and use the softsynths on smaller details and effect sounds because of the sound quality.
And as you can hear on the album, I use the ebow on my Strat a lot. This has become a big part of my signature sound, and I use it to make drive and variation and as counterpoints between the major themes. The percussion elements are often loops I created myself, using various shakers and found objects.
AV: When you start work on a project like Timelines (or any new project) are you deliberately trying to break new ground with your compositions and create something you haven’t done before?
EW: Yes, of course I want to discover new areas on each project. So I have been developing some personal techniques to avoid going too much back in to my own traces, avoiding repeating myself.
As a professional, I need to have a lot of gear. So that I do not get bored, and so that I can always discover new sides to every instrument or to every piece of equipment. I have two studios, each one very different. I purposely never dive too deep into some of my synthesizers so that many of them are still fresh to me, with a lot of hidden secrets that I have yet to discover and I oftentimes don’t save the patches either! When I compose, I try to reset myself mentally. I try to forget everything I have done before.
My studio is like a garden in which I try to grow different plants all the time. Apart from all of this, I think I do work on the same tune all the time, again and again. But it is a matter of trying to find a new surface for it every time.
AV: What will listeners encounter when they hear the music you have composed for Timelines? Was there a particular theme or underlying emotion you were aiming for on Timelines or as with most art will it be completely up to the listener to bring meaning to your compositions?
EW: Timelines is a unity of similar compositions, all tied together. And each track has its own character, and a different feel. So after hearing the whole album in one pass, which is recommended, I can hope that it was worth listening to. I hope that it gives the listener a new and enriched experience. As on many of my previous albums they almost feel like a soundtrack to an imaginary film. It is a sound journey. Like after watching a movie that you like, you can have a different and more positive reflection on life. But people react differently to different artistic expressions, and I certainly do not want to lead the listener too much in one specific direction. I want the listener to create their own inner pictures.
AV: What are you most happy about in terms of how Timelines turned out?
EW: I have been a full time artist since 1980, and as the years pass by, my work flow gets easier all the time. I have trained myself to be creative at any moment in the studio. I do not have to struggle so much anymore to create; I do not have to wait for any kind of inspiration. It is already there; it is a major part of my existence. Timelines is one of the fastest records I have ever done. I did not have any compositional problems; everything flowed very naturally and smooth! And in the end, I think you can hear that.
I think the arrangements and mixes are very fulfilled this time. I have found some new ways to achieve more depth and space, giving everything a more organic float.
On playing this album at low levels on your stereo, you might get the feeling that this is a mellow journey. But try playing it at high volume in your car, and you will certainly discover that there is a lot of power hidden in the music but while you are doing this please be aware of the traffic around you!
AV: Do you enjoy having complete control over all aspects of performing, composing and producing your music on an album like Timelines? Do you think that makes it more personal?
EW: When the new studio technology became available in the beginning of the 1980’s, I found it to be quite attractive. Why couldn’t a composer have the same way of working as a painter or as a sculptor? Why couldn’t a composer spend all the necessary time and effort to achieve and carve the sound? To create a finished result that you alone are completely responsible for and not dependent on an orchestra to perform it several years later. To be able to hear the end result in real time right there and then in your studio and to have complete total control while reaching for a certain level of perfection.
And yes, I think this process will make the music more personal. Of course there are some downsides to this working method. You have to be able to be your own producer, being very analytic, and to be able to see your art from a distance. You have to be objective and be able to edit out everything that turns out to be unnecessary.
AV: Do you have any other thoughts you would like to share about Timelines that I didn’t touch on in the questions above?
EW: In these times it is very tough to be in the record and music business. All major and minor artists are struggling, because of the new digital reality. But in spite of all this, I am happier than ever to be an artist in this genre because there are listeners out there who still want to support us. I think that is even truer in the smaller and alternative music genres as opposed to the major pop culture, where everything seems to be drowning in the streaming business model. The music field, in which I am working, will slowly and gradually become more important and accepted as time goes by. The popular genres will eventually decrease, because the majority of listeners will want something different. Art with more depth and seriousness will be sought out. That makes us as artists more responsible, we always have to create something valid and with the highest possible quality. The future is a stronger connection between the artists and the listeners.
AV: Thanks so much for taking the time out to talk to Ambient Visions about your new album called Timelines and congrats on it being named the album of the month over at Echoes. A much deserved honor which I agree with after listening to Timelines myself. I wish you much success in the coming years.
A concept album exploring the time connection between humans and how music, as art, is the musician’s manipulation of time. Timelines sees the return of the prolific Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Erik Wøllo. A true veteran deep-rooted in seventies prog-rock, Wøllo composes the successor to the previous release Airborne.
Layers of acoustic guitars, soft pianos, and winding synths appear on the tracks “Blue Rondo” and the beautiful “Visions” (with echoes of Durutti Column and Brian Eno) and in “Spirit of the Place,” reminiscent of the metaphysical Talk Talk of “Spirit of Eden.”
RELAXING. -Emanuele Salvini
Reviews Editor –
From Star’s End
Erik Wøllo is often cited as creating music inspired by his Norwegian homeland. But could it be that the true destination of his work is somewhere beyond self and country? The album Timelines (54’33”) conjures a distinctive mindscape and offers so many easy pleasures. A personal journey of lingering resonance Wøllo’s nine compositions spin by as the listening mind cuts away from its flow of words to a realm of sound and ideas. Partitioning choral and orchestral forces into distilled hauntingly repetitive ideas Timelines rolls forward, never straight, with steady grooves in compelling restraint. Percussion loops give off a Jazzy flair with breathing chords and a churning pulse searching the horizon.
Reverberant piano notes order simple melodies within bobbing rhythms and acoustic guitar picking. Well-paced within these neo-minimalist arrangements Wøllo casts his bending then sustaining electric guitar lines. From an ethereal glow to an earthy growl this playing brings attention to his own cool authority. With equal parts meant for the head and heart we cannot resist the uncommon pull of this album. A celebration of the imagination the poetic contemplations on Timelines will leave us with the feeling that we have something to think about – and with a more invigorated outlook on reality. -Chuck Van Zyl
Reviews Editor –
From Reviews New Age
Bajo el sello Projekt Records (EEUU) Timelines es un viaje a través de la música electrónica de Wøllo bajo una amplia variedad de sintetizadores, guitarras y percusiones. Wøllo es conocido por sus muchos y premiados álbumes y Timelines continúa con la tradición de crear composiciones que seducen al oyente y que exploran la idea de la música y el tiempo.
Los loops de guitarra acústica y sintetizadores crean la base sobre la que se presentan diferentes temas de piano melódico. Las piezas se componen de emocionantes líneas de sintetizador, y poderosos y profundos bajos, junto con los delicados arreglos de percusión. Como contrapunto natural e importante para los temas de piano, no pueden faltar los solos de guitarra eléctrica de Wøllo.
Erik dice: “Empecé la mayoría de estas canciones con sólo una guitarra acústica, componiendo y grabando en el mismo orden en el que se escucha en el álbum. He creado los arreglos agregando otros elementos. Siempre he estado interesado en los esquemas que muestran cómo se puede medir el tiempo, y cómo nos relacionamos con él. Cada una de las pistas fue concebida como parte de una suite que explora las ideas y los aspectos del tiempo”.
La influencia del rock progresivo de los años 70 tiene una notable presencia en este CD. Temas poderosos, donde acordes y ritmos conducen hacia crescendos y contrapuntos dentro de las canciones. Timelines una continuación de los anteriores álbumes Gateway (2010) and Airborne (2012), así como sus colaboraciones con Steve Roach: Stream of Thought (2009) and The Road Eternal (2011). -Alejandro Clavijo
Reviews Editor –
From Synths & Sequences
Layers of synth are making chime carillons of which the ringings are scattering in the singings of opaque winds. “Inception” reveals its sad melodic envelope with fine notes of an acoustic guitar which scratch a shagreen crying in the notes of a meditative piano. These notes fall like tears on the stone floor of melancholy, flooding our senses of a ghostly melody of which the blue breaths squeak such as metallic tears that the six-strings of Wollo torture of its plaintive solos. Ambient, the rhythm of “Inception” succumbs to the theatrical dramatic approach of his designer in order to marry a lunar down-tempo where the tears of the guitar melt themselves in the tears of a piano as so solitary that its sorrow. Ah… The music of Erik Wollo! His melodies float like spectres whose translucent euphonies roam in timeless tunnels where the layers of synths and the tears of guitars merge together into floating and evasive musical mosaics. Following the romantic and melancholic sweetnesses of his wonderful and dark Airborne (2012/PRO00278), Erik Wollo comes back haunting our senses, and our ears, with Timelines and its 9 music pieces of which the soft melodic patterns intertwine and kiss with fine variations in their approaches on rhythms sometimes ambient, clanic and lunar.
On a ghost tempo, where the percussions click like the drummings of a clock assaulted by a convoluted debit, “Blue Rondo” drinks the harmonious and dramatic model of “Inception”. It’s crazy like everything can be so alike and seem so clearly different in the universe of Wollo . Let’s take “Color of Mind” and “Timescape”. Even if the rhythmic envelopes are totally opposite, the melancholic fusion of the guitar and the piano forges the same melodic bases as those found on “Inception” and “Blue Rondo”. But let’s say it straightaway that “Timescape” is a wonderful morphic sweetness, even if the misty “Ocean” brings us to one thousand places of us. “Visions” distances itself by its approach closer to the ballad style with a solitary rhythm which makes tap our hand on our thigh while we contemplate the wind whistle far in a sky decorated by shy sonic dawns. The piano always leaves its imprint of melancholy on a melody always so black, while the rhythm perspires of its uncertainty between its frenzy repressed by tenderness and its desire to merge in a lunar decoration. This piano haunts all the structures of Timelines. Whether it’s with the delicate tribal and spectral approaches of “Spirit of the Place” and “Along the Journey”, it watches at musical horizon drawn by synth layers and by the ghostly solos of guitar and dives into our feelings like tears delicately sculpted in sadness. “Pathfinder” breaks rank in this herd of nomadic dreamers with a clearly more sharpened rhythm. On this track, Erik Wollo is visibly inspired by Steve Roach’s clanic works with a structure of rhythm more neurotic than hovering where glide and moan tears and layers of this delicious union between synths and six-strings. This is very good, just like the whole of Timelines which, if offers some fine variations on same themes, or more or less, possesses this little something which hooks and this at each title. And this is all of the charms from Erik Wollo’s splendid musical universe. -Sylvain Lupari
Reviews Editor –
Like a soft brush to massage your brain, Erik Wøllo’s music doesn’t quite fit squarely into a lot of different pigeonholes (ambient, electronic, etc.), but it does find reference points within those idioms that come together to shed light on his creations. The Norwegian guitarist’s work, at least on this and all his recordings in recent memory, don’t sound like the work of a guitarist who wants his primary instrument to be the focal point of his compositions and arrangements. The six strings are well hidden behind swaths of ambient textures, prominent synth melodies and guitar loops, often driven by soft pulsating patterns of electronic percussion. But at the same time, this doesn’t quite fit the ambient mold either, as the nine moderate length explorative instrumental tracks here are far too kinetic to serve as a pure backdrop for relaxation or meditative experiences, but it does offer suggestions in that direction at times.
More than anything, Wøllo’s compositions and arranging style are cinematic; it doesn’t take much more than closing your eyes and turning on your imagination to visualize what much of this music could be describing, drifting through beautiful scenic panoramas and canyons, snow covered peaks, and shimmering sands of desert dunes. In that respect, it fits in well with much of the music on the Spotted Peccary label (and indeed Wøllo has released recordings on that label, both solo or in collaborations). The rich guitar energy that permeates Timelines also recalls the work of Carl Weingarten at many points along this journey of discovery and revelation. This is one of those discs where one will just want to keep hitting the repeat button; the atmosphere it induces is something you just don’t want to let go. Play on… -Peter Thelen
Reviews Editor –
From Sonic Immersion
More than on any of his latest albums, Norwegian multi-instrumentalist Erik Wøllo here attempts to combine acoustic elements with electronic elements sophisticatedly, while arranging the outcome in a cinematic, orchestral way. In the process of creating the music for his 18th solo album Timelines (on which work started around March 2013), Mr Wøllo used his guitars as an underlying element together with the synthesizers to make the music organic and engaging, focusing on more fragmented melodic ingredients.
Moreover, Timelines is best regarded as more groove based but also emotive project, a mix of very close and down to earth rhythmical elements and an overall spacious sound design. Here, the sonic esthetics of synthesizers, overtly mellow and soft glowing percussion and guitars complement each other nicely while Erik’s typical musical trademark and minimalistic approach shines all the way.
The 54-minutes of stark mellow music offers a comfortable ride altogether. Keep this one in mind if you’re looking for warm, melodic and soft shimmering ambient paintings. -Bert Strolenberg
Reviews Editor –
“Norwegian guitarist and synthesist Erik Wøllo returns with his devastatingly beautiful CD of electro-orchestrated moods.”
It’s a cliché, I know, but as soon as an Erik Wøllo album starts, you know you are on a journey. It’s like the moments before take-off, only Wøllo’s ascent doesn’t throw you back in your seat with G-Force thrust. It’s a gentle rise into euphoric space. Timelines is a beautifully sculpted example of that.
Wøllo is a Norwegian musician who has been recording since 1984, releasing 18 solo albums in that span plus collaborations with musicians like Steve Roach, Ian Boddy and Kouame Sereba. From his 1988 album Traces (recently reissued on Spotted Peccary Records along with other Wøllo titles) Wøllo showed a command of detailed orchestrations and dramatic melodies. A guitarist and keyboardist, both elements come together in intricate and unexpected ways on Timelines.
Wøllo’s recent albums, Silent Currents and Airborne, have taken him into the drone zone inhabited by Steve Roach, but Timelines is a return to form for this guitarist who is more at home in a world of melody. But you can hear those abstract influences in his electronic percussion palette which reflects the influence of his collaborations with Roach on Streams of Thought and Road Eternal.
The central core of this album is acoustic guitar, on which Wøllo composed all of the tracks, except I suspect, the spacey closer, “Ocean.” On “Blue Rondo,” an acoustic guitar arpeggio seems to reveal itself out of an electronic swirl, merging with glurpy water drip electronic percussion, soaring synth pads and growling electric guitar drones before evolving into a gently percussive piece with some searing ebow guitar leads.
“Visions” is the centerpiece of the album, a slowly building work of interlocked percussion, electronic cycles and that ebow guitar that seems to emerge like a stealth bomber out of the storm clouds. Maybe that imagery is a little foreboding, but that’s what draws me to Wøllos music. A track like “Along the Journey” could be a gentle walk through a Norwegian forest and easily devolve into New Age prettiness. But throughout the walk, Wøllo has ambient atmospheres swirling at the edges, leaving them unfocused and mysterious. There’s a darkness that balances the light, a dark undertow that serves to put his melodies in beautiful bas relief. And then of course, there’s the thudding percussion and spiraling ebow solo that reveals this is no country walk.
Erik Wøllo has had a few CD of the Month picks in the past. It’s hard not to. Time is suspended when you cross Erik Wøllo’s Timelines. -John Diliberto
Reviews Editor –
I vent’anni abbondanti della carriera di Erik Wøllo si sono divisi in intervalli dalla regolarità variabile in periodi di enorme prolificità e pause, anche lunghe, di ricostruzione stilistica. Gli ultimi cinque anni possono essere considerati, a giudicare dall’ingente mole di pubblicazioni, facenti parte di quella che è forse la parabola creativa ascendente più proficua dal 1983 ad oggi. Un’esplosione che ha partorito quello che è forse il capolavoro della sua storia musicale – Gateway, quattro anni or sono – e una miriade di collaborazioni, fra cui quella con Steve Roach, decisiva per una tardiva consacrazione nell’Olimpo dell’ambient music.
Dopo il buon bollettino di Airborne, scorrevole omaggio al maestro californiano nella forma e tetto comune per entrambi i lati – quello più vibrante e quello più quieto – della sua musica nella sostanza, Timelines torna a mettere l’accento sull’atmosfera come già fu in Gateway, soffermandosi questa volta più sul ritmo che sulle dilatazioni. Il risultato è una sorta di potenziale contraltare al magnifico vertice datato 2010, che non ne pareggia l’insuperabile equilibrio fra morbidezza e struttura ma mette in luce alcuni degli apici del Wøllo melodista, tornando a vertere sulla miscela synth-guitar divenuta ormai marchio di fabbrica del sound del norvegese.
La partenza di “Inception” ingrana subito una marcia alta, suggerendo l’evoluzione delle sue ambient song e sfoggiando in tutto ciò arpeggi melodici dalla fluidità disarmante. “Blue Rondo” gli fa immediatamente eco, dilatando tempi e progressioni e prendendo un volo su cui si imbarca, poco dopo, anche la culla astrale di “Visions”. È impossibile non riconoscere qua e la qualche tocco ripescato da quel passato in cui Wøllo aveva più volte avvicinato i confini della new age, senza mai sfociare però nelle sue forme più banali e artificiose: l’impressione si concretizza nella culla zuccherosa di “Along The Journey”, negli arpeggi policromatici di “Color Of Mind” – qui pure Robert Rich si fa sentire – e nell’acquerello gracile di “Spirit Of The Place”.
Situato forse appositamente a centro scaletta, “Pathfinder” è invece il lungo pilastro ritmico su cui si reggono le diramazioni melodiche: un perfetto esempio di quanto Steve Roach resti in grado di influenzare la contemporaneità ambientale da più prospettive, nel caso specifico, quella tribale e trancedelica. In chiusura, al contrario, i tempi si distendono totalmente, allargandosi nel quadretto cameristico di Timelines e annullandosi di fatto completamente nello sciame sconfinato di “Ocean”.
Di conferme, oggi, Wøllo non ha certo bisogno, forte di uno status che si avvicina sempre più a quello di maestro e di assodata punta di diamante di un catalogo importante e prestigioso come Projekt: ben più stupefacente è la qualità media che le sue uscite, anche quando – come nel caso di Timelines – non si tratta di capolavori, continuano a presentare. Rating: 7 (very good) -Matteo Meda