01: Behind the Clouds
04: Mosaic of Time I – Route Diverge
05: Mosaic of Time II – Threshold Point
06: Ravel Peak
07: Mosaic of Time III – Hidden Path
09: Mosaic of Time IV – Bridge Crossing
Total time: 60:02
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Norwegian sound-artist Erik Wøllo’s 23rd album delivers a collection of carefully crafted compositions: introspective, yet melodic electronic music. It is pensive and reflective upon passing and transition; several sequencer-driven pieces contrast with surrounding dreamlike ambient soundscapes. Wøllo’s mood is contemplative and expressively intense, capturing an authentic moment in time.
Threshold is defined as a magnitude or intensity that must be exceeded for a certain reaction, phenomenon, result, or condition to occur or be manifested.
Wøllo says, “For me, Threshold Point is a musical idea of an actual transformation: to cross a threshold, going from one form to another… into a change. Unfolding over time, gradually bridging and leading into new states or places. In my music, patterns and evolution are basic elements, always retaining an emotional connection with the melodies and the textures.”
These ideas are reflected in the beautiful cover image created by artist Rodrigo Adolfo: approaching new spaces that are symbolically represented by a bridge with gateways, leading into a shimmering distant light.
Wøllo offers a calm, otherworldly and self-contained sound on Threshold Point. This release possesses a quieter nature then his previous Different Spaces album; it’s somewhat more reserved and withdrawn.
“Some of these pieces were written in 2016 under special and tragic circumstances. I was staying in Brooklyn for some weeks while my sister grew more ill and died. I recorded in a tiny room at her neighbor’s apartment on Henry Street. I sense these circumstances influenced the music, making it more ethereal and humble than some of my other works. Where Different Spaces was a bit of a memorial to her, these pieces were composed earlier during the midst of the crisis.”
A reflection on changing states, passing a threshold, evolving into something new, this is a musical expression where the melody and the accompaniment merge to create an equilibrium of sound, as if watching something stopped in a camera frame.
“Andrei Tarkovsky once said film is a mosaic of time,” Wøllo reflects. “I found that to be a very inspiring metaphor for creating this album. Music also operates with this concept, developing a duration in the literal sense. It is the fixing of reality, the fixing and conservation of time.”
With Threshold Point, Erik Wøllo has conjured a remarkably visceral electronic album. It’s a dynamic collection of earthy, hypnotic, and pulsating soundtextures; the work of a passionate artist at the forefront of the electronic music genre.
Echoes Radio writes: “On Monday 4/30 we reach the Threshold Point on the next Echoes. That’s the title of Erik Wøllo’s new album, a gorgeous electronic expanse, much of it composed in the aftermath of a deep and tragic loss. Erik Wøllo’s Threshold Point is the May CD of the Month and we explore it on Echoes.”
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From Music TAP
Norwegian ambient artist, Erik Wøllo, has released a healthy catalog of electronic sound explorations in the nearly forty years he has been recording. With well over twenty album releases, a handful of EP issues, and much more than that number of collaborative works, it’s easy to say that Erik Wøllo has a strong sense of what works musically.
His past works have often been in-depth explorations of worlds and their sounds, many alien in nature. Or if you prefer, otherworldly. His previous album, Cinematic (2017), was a sonic achievement, displaying new directions in music and creating, as the title suggests, a realm of cinematic majesty.
With the newest album, Threshold Point, Erik Wøllo creates something familiar yet quite different in approach. The nine pieces on this album feel like separate pieces collected in a more pop oriented style. In that sense, they seem to easily stand alone without the need to trail and expand off the other tracks in the album. Many of the better ambient albums are conceptual in nature. They create a world or journey, and provide an ongoing soundtrack to assist the unfolding story in your head. Threshold Point is an impressive collection of beautiful pieces.
Wøllo does attempt to connect several of the songs within a centralized “Mosaic Of Time” suite. With four movements (“Mosaic Of Time I – Route Diverge”, “Mosaic Of Time II – Threshold Point”, “Mosaic Of Time III – Hidden Path”, “Mosaic Of Time IV – Bridge Crossing”), comprising thirty-one minutes of Threshold Point, the individual pieces still sound demanding in their own right.
I have thoroughly enjoyed all sixty-minutes of Threshold Point in all of its musical diversity. I especially love the blend of cinematic ambient and peppy jazz in the final “Mosaic Of Time” piece, which closes off the new album.
Highly recommended. -Matt Rowe
If the emotional temperature seems high on Threshold Point, Norwegian sound artist Erik Wøllo’s twenty-third album, there’s a good reason for it. Though much of it was composed in Norway, some of the album was written during a 2016 stay in Brooklyn as his sister’s illness worsened and death eventually arrived; during that time, he also recorded music at her neighbour’s apartment, and here too the tragic circumstances left a powerful imprint on the material produced. Qualities of introspection, melancholy, and humility lend Threshold Point an emotional gravitas greater than the ambient-electronic norm. Certainly it’s hard not to think of his sister ‘crossing over,’ so to speak, when the album title suggests transformation, the idea of advancing beyond a threshold and transitioning from one state into something new.
That sense of an earth-bound realm being left behind and exchanged for a non-corporeal one is captured by “Behind the Clouds” in its slow, mysterious unfurl of synthesizer washes and tones. Yet as appropriately sombre as that opening is, Threshold Point isn’t an unwavering exercise in mourning, as the subsequent track, “Traverse,” demonstrates in the insistent propulsion of its rhythms and the sense of affirmation conveyed by its chiming melodic themes. As the nine-minute piece progresses, one surmises that a journey is being undertaken, one hardly bereft of hope but instead one that embraces the future for all the promise it offers.
The album’s clear focal point is its four-movement suite “Mosaic of Time,” which proves arresting in weaving African-inflected rhythms and a muffled, horn-like wash into its inaugural part “Route Diverge”; though it would misrepresent Wøllo’s music to label it Fourth World, there’s definitely a hint of Jon Hassell in the mass that billows across the track’s buoyant, sequencer-driven base. Even more driving are the second and third parts, “Threshold Point” and “Hidden Path,” which sprinkle sparse, rather New Age-styled piano figures across muscular tribal-ambient grooves. Certainly some of the album’s tone is coloured by the death of Wøllo’s sister, but the “Bridge Crossing” movement with which the album ends is anything but sombre; if anything, joy and resilience infuse its dance-inflected rhythms and the interlacing of its swelling synthesizer patterns.
Perhaps because he decided it better enhanced the album’s flow, Wøllo opted to break up “Mosaic of Time” with two pieces. Its title a reference to a mountain in Antarctica, “Ravel Peak” provides a suitably majestic interlude between the suite’s second and third parts, whereas “Eon” is as perfect an example of becalmed, New Age-styled ambient scene-painting as could be imagined.
Despite being purely instrumental, Wøllo’s ruminative music nevertheless communicates a narrative dimension, an impression strengthened by evocative track titles such as “Arches,” “Traverse,” and “Eon.” Musically, the material adheres to the tenets of the ambient-electronic genre—there are synthesizer whooshes, pulsations, and expansive ambient atmospheres aplenty—yet also distances itself from it in specific ways, the incorporation of electric guitar, guitar synthesizer, and African rhythms most conspicuously. And, as one would expect from an artist who’s been producing music since the ‘80s, Threshold Point is distinguished by an exceptional level of craft.
Across Wøllo’s nearly two dozen albums going back to the early 80s, and even more when one counts all the collaborations, the Norwegian guitarist’s explorative sounds have evolved from jazzy beginnings into a far more electronic presentation, rife with floating ambience and sequences evoking dreamlike states. Threshold Point is the latest, and for longtime fans this will not disappoint, blending dreamy textures over gentle sequenced backdrops, injected with bursts of beautiful melodic imagery. The general feel of the nine tracks herein is an exploration of contemplative solitude, but with enough kinetic energy to keep it interesting over its sixty minute duration, and enough strong melodies to give each piece its own character and emotional structure as it evolves. The overtly sequenced “Mosaic of Time I – Route Diverge” takes the listener through many layers of colorful patterns, eventually giving way to a powerful percussive bottom end with scorching textural guitar overlays, and a more menacing feel, yet still follows an energetic flow that continuously morphs over its seven minute duration.
The title track evolves from dreamy beginnings crossing a bridge into a region of solid percussion with floating patterns of color all punctuated by beautiful synth piano sprites, changing slowly as it unfolds over its nine minute journey. “Traverse” embodies a slow unfolding sequenced pattern as colorful solar breezes intersperse the musical fabric and bright synth melodies swarm within. Wøllo builds up each of the pieces layer by layer, playing all the instrumentation himself, which icludes keyboards, electric guitars and guitar synths, with electronic and acoustic percussion, and programming. Evoking even more calm and stillness, “Eon” takes the listener through a dreamy portal of shimmering emotion, always moving forward and never looking back, as the musical vision unfolds before you, the sounds perfectly complimenting the album’s beautiful cover art by Rodrigo Adolfo. There’s enough variation across this vast and expansive journey to keep it interesting all the way through. If you’ve followed his recent endeavors like Blue Radiance and 2017’s Different Spaces, this latest set will be right on the expected trajectory, blending intensity with cinematic atmospherics. -Peter Thelen
From Star’s End
The music of Erik Wøllo has more places to chill than an igloo. His album Threshold Point (60’37”) features nine tracks that run in cool, unpredictable swerves and drifts of conversation. Always meeting the harmonic demands of his audience, Wøllo clothes supple melodic lines in a blanket of synthesized consonance. Climbing gradually and gracefully to its highest point, then with dignity traveling home again, his guitar solos conjure places known to but a few contemporary musicians. While so many rows of notes dance in all the pleasant complexities of syncopation, echoing up and down their scales, we listeners may rest – contently attuned with this beauty. In building Threshold Point Wøllo used rhythm, tone and pitch as his raw material. Here, rhythm is an appeal to the feelings, rather than an exercise of mathematical faculty. Tone combined with mood delivers a distinctive atmosphere, and tuneful arrangements of pitch brings the listener to a point of emotion – which then (as an element in the structure of each piece) leads to a feeling for climax. We will find no formal border between Wøllo’s music and the mainstream, as his work resides safely at the northern fringes of this realm. Identified by its boreal cursive elegance, Threshold Point displays a level of inventiveness that most musicians have not yet reached. So much of modern music and art is meant to provoke – inciting us to apply meaning. Erik Wøllo does believe that the world needs more people thinking, learning, and thereby becoming better. But he knows that society grinds on us enough so why should his music? From the steady and true creative engine of this man we hear his art, and cannot help but feel his humanity. -Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END
From Synth & Sequences
“Erik Wollo has this gift to surpass himself from an album to another one and this Threshold Point is no exceptions. It’s this kind of opus that you will play tirelessly”
An album from Erik Wollo is like a story painted in different paintings where the emotions of the Norwegian are transposed on cinematographic and/or panoramic textures. The one who has accustomed us to a music of atmospheres, and its delicate floating rhythms, proposes here an album in two shades with textures of rhythms which amaze, especially coming from his side.
Threshold Point is a title which means a new beginning. A kind of reflection (some passages here were composed while he was at the bedside of his dying sister in New York) on the metamorphosis of a soul to another form of life. It’s a bit like changing of cosmic address, as Edgar Froese liked to think. Anyway, the Norwegian electronic bard offers on this last album a delightful and enticing balance between his ambiences, always at the paroxysm of the ethereal, and beats of the world as well as some rhythms well put on Berlin School’s style of sequenced ritornellos.
It’s in a state of mind well-thought that “Behind the Clouds” carves a place deep inside the motor of our emotions. Breezes tinged of black, almost pious, float with floating banks of clouds blown in a shady sky. It’s a very nice ambient music with a distinct line which sings sadly in this mass of cavernous breezes. “Traverse” is the first rhythmic surprise of “Threshold Point”. If Erik Wollo had accustomed us to a timid universe of rhythm, as in “Arches” with his very intrusive guitar, here he exploits a good zigzagging movement with a clever mix of sequences and percussions of which the flow is as fluid as jerky. A layer of voices surrounds this rhythm which adopts an oblong sinusoidal curve. This layer trades its place with a guitar and his solos which transpierce us. Solos unique to the musical poetry of Wollo, even in those percussive moments and others frankly moving. Despite the flow of the beat, we can turn our thoughts into dreams with this beautiful piece of EM. “Mosaic of Time I; Route Diverge” is also a very pleasant surprise. The introduction offers a rhythmic structure and its frantic hundred little steps running in circles and without any specific purpose, whereas synth-trumpet pads attempt to propel winds from a colony of lost trumpeters. Drums and bass pulsations add to the depth of the initial rhythm while the trumpet chants make up the atmospheres with eurhythmies a little frayed. The rhythm is superb with its small nuances in percussions and the remodeling of the sequences whose flow became more fluid and more harmonized.
We jump from surprise to surprise with the frantic tribal rhythm of “Mosaic of Time II, Threshold Point”. Nervous, the structure unleashes the spasms of manual percussions under a sky shaded by layers of a darker synth, while other layers bring a cryptic vision. Piano notes and tears of guitar adorn this rhythmic decor which continues to grow fat with the additions of sequences, percussive elements, synth riffs and others of a guitar and its spasmodic loops. Delicious and highly emotional at times, as in the golden age of Ashra. “Ravel Peak” is a rather solemn panoramic and cinematographic movement. It’s an ascent described in music of a mountain of the same name in Antarctica. An in-between, I would add, which brings us to “Mosaic of Time III, Hidden Path” which, once after having conquered its moments of ambiances, bursts with a rhythm of tribal trance animated by good shamanic percussions which are joining nervous sequences. A piano crumbles its dreams while erecting chills between our ears. Another remarkable title which evolves with strength and passion. “Eon” also acts as a panoramic interlude. Except that its atmospheres are intense with a mesh of lines and voices whose contrasting tones throw a sibylline veil to dreams and sighs carved in the Gardens of Melancholy. It’s very intense and powerful for a title of ambiences. Different but as beautiful as the first three parts, “Mosaic of Time IV, Bridge Crossing” offers a fusion between electronics and the acoustics of a music and its rhythms of the world. The voices of the mermaids from the Gardens of Melancholy are superb with their chants as acuities as very penetrating, while the world of the sequencer makes shimmer its keys and their silver songs which shine on a bed of nervous sequences and clan percussion. And it’s already ended!
Very good from start to end to another and flawless, even moments of ambiences are offered on a tray of temptations, Threshold Point is a powerful album, both in terms of rhythms and ambiences. Erik Wollo imposes a new vision in his career with a metamorphosis which responds very well to the meaning, to the dimension of the album title. Available on a limited CD Digipack edition, and also in download, the lyricism of Erik Wollo is striking and extremely powerful. Indispensable to his fans, it’s also the best way for others to break into a world where wonders are wisely waiting to be discovered. Enjoy yourself! Rating: 4.5 out of 5 -Sylvain Lupari
Il compositore norvegese si conferma particolarmente prolifico nella sua produzione discografica, approdando al suo 23esimo album a soli 14 mesi dal mastodontico doppio full-length Different Spaces, dopo che nel febbraio scorso era uscito il lavoro a quattro mani con Ian Boddy Meridia. Se Different Spaces era dedicato alla memoria della sorella del musicista scandinavo, Threshold Point – confezionato in un essenziale digipack e limitato a 500 esemplari – è stato concepito durante l’aggravarsi delle condizioni che hanno portato la donna alla morte, nell’appartamento accanto, e quindi non sorprende che in esso i toni siano più dimessi e spesso minimali, oltre che intimi. Un lavoro che parla di trasformazione, dell’attraversare una soglia per passare da una forma all’altra, espletato attraverso le ben note dinamiche compositive che hanno definito negli anni il suono del Nostro: sottili linee ambientali e droniche su cui si innestano ritmiche educate di stampo downtempo (“Traverse”, una “Route Diverge” sporcata da riverberi polverosi sullo sfondo, la più esotica title-track, “Hidden Path” ed il suo piano, protagonista fra glitch e percussioni, e la conclusiva “Bridge Crossing”, esemplificativa del più tipico Wøllo-sound), in una serie di lenti ma inesorabili crescendo elevati da luminose melodie, costruite con poche ma efficaci note. Il maggior intimismo viene ben incarnato dagli episodi dal taglio più ambientale, come l’iniziale “Behind The Clouds”, l’eterea “Arches”, la rugginosa “Ravel Peak” ed una “Eon” che enfatizza il gioco di luci ed ombre proprio di un minimalismo sospeso, leit-motiv di un lavoro che spinge sul piano emozionale senza bisogno di reinventare le linee guida di uno stile inconfondibile. Fra le opere più emotive e meno didascaliche del longevo artista scandinavo, vero e proprio punto di riferimento di una scena avara di reali e plausibili ‘mostri sacri’. -Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi
From Ambient Visions
Before starting this review I wanted to take a quick glance at how many albums Erik has put out over the years in relation to his latest one on Projekt Records. Sometimes an artist’s name is so familiar that you think you have a grasp of their discography and how long they have been working at making music in a particular genre. I pulled up his works at the website Discogs and realized that Erik has been composing his wonderful music since before I even started to listen to the genre that is the namesake of this website. Erik’s music goes all the way back to 1983 with an appropriately named album called Where It All Begins and truly that was the beginning of a musical journey for Erik that has lasted for the last 35 years.
It wasn’t until 1998 that I first heard Erik’s music when I got a copy of Guitar Nova and realized that his music should be on AV’s radar from that moment on. Threshold Point is the 39th album that Erik has either put out himself or has appeared on in conjunction with other artists to create joint releases like he did with Earth Luminous with Byron Metcalf or more recently Meridian in which he collaborated with UK artist Ian Boddy. Suffice it to say that his career has been both prolific and brilliant as his music has continually evolved into what we find on Threshold Point which is perhaps Erik’s own estimation of his growth as an artist. To cross a threshold is to enter into new areas from wherever you were before you crossed that gateway. The Cambridge Dictionary defines threshold thusly “at the start of a new and important time or development, or the level or point at which you start to experience something or at which something starts to happen”.
Some of the music you will find on Threshold Point was written at a very difficult time in Erik’s life as he was spending time with his sister before she tragically passed away and some of the music you will hear on this new album does capture those feelings of loss and Erik’s reflections on his emotions about a life that was too soon gone and one that would be sorely missed. The music is infused with these emotions and listeners will discern the introspective and pensive nature of the music that has been captured on this album. Like a photographer who preserves slices of life on film or on digital media to look at and remember certain periods of time in their lives so Erik composed and wrote some of these pieces while he was with his sister and they will forever encapsulate those difficult times in which they were written.
Some of the music such as the Mosaic of Time pieces are like the personal acceptance of the inevitable march of time in our lives and as I look at the sub titles it looks more like a journey that Erik was on and that we take with him through his music. Route Diverge, Threshold Point, Hidden Path, Bridge Crossing. I have spent much time listening to the music that is contained on Threshold Point and it has been an insightful experience but not one that buries itself in depression or in darkness but one that embraces the concept of change and growth that happens when we simply step across the threshold into the next chapter of each of our lives. Granted there may not always be a choice as to whether or not we feel we are ready to walk across the threshold into that change but when the time comes perhaps each of will find the courage to take those steps and embrace whatever comes next.
The music on Threshold Point is cathartic and as you work your way through the Mosaic of Time suite you will sense that by the time you reach Part IV called Bridge Crossing that the mood has become more ethereal as if the crossing of the bridge or the crossing of the threshold has been accomplished and that there is comfort in taking that next step. The Mosaic of Time suite has a pulsating and even a mesmerizing feel to it that allows the listener to drift with the rhythms and to let go of themselves and allow the music to take them where it will. Bridge Crossing is a fitting song to close out the album and the journey on which we walked with Erik on throughout this album.
Other songs on the album such as Behind the Clouds, Ravel Peak, Arches or even Eon create a more atmospheric soundscape that embodies some of the intimate and fragile aspects of dealing with the passing of a loved one. Erik is a highly talented musician and his ability to channel the pain of his personal loss into his music which can then be shared with others is a way to speak to those who want to know how he is doing. Perhaps musicians keep musical journals instead of journals composed of words that act as reminders of those points in their lives that are beyond language but can be captured using music and emotion.
Erik’s new album Threshold Point has stripped away and laid bare some intense emotions for listeners to absorb and to perhaps find resonance within their own painful experiences and in the end in some way share Erik’s emotions blended with those similar experiences in each of their lives. Erik’s musical sensibilities are on full display on this new album and he does not disappoint as he weaves and paints these emotional songs on soundscapes that are skillfully created and layered so as to always reflect the circumstances under which they were composed. Sometimes words simply get in the way of communicating ideas and concepts that can only be expressed via music. Listen to Erik’s thoughts communicated via his music and simply understand at a level that is deeper than any words will ever be able to say. Adding this album to your collection would be something you would not regret.
Highly recommended by Ambient Visions. -Michael Foster for Ambient Visions
Reviews Editor –
May 2018 CD of the Month: Erik Wøllo’s Threshold Point
Norwegian guitarist Erik Wøllo has had four previous CD of the Month picks. It feels like more because we’ve actually passed over many of his albums because they came out two close in time to his previous picks. He could’ve had two CD of the Month picks in 2017 alone with Different Spaces and Cinematic. But we’re not letting his latest album go by. It’s called Threshold Point and it’s another step on the evolution of this musician who has been recording since the mid-1980s.
Erik Wøllo has been a favorite on Echoes from the beginning. His first album came out in 1983 and he released music at a prodigious clip into the 90s and 2000s with 28 solo albums and EPs and a dozen-or-so collaborations. In the process he’s perfected a unique brand of electronic music using a guitar synthesizer and inspired by the myths, landscapes and climate of Norway where he’s from.
While most of his music has been composed in Norway, much of his new album came into being in a small New York City bedroom while he cared for his sister who was in the final days of her life. You can hear Threshold Point as both an intimate rumination on mourning and crossing the threshold into another life, especially on the somber opening track, “Behind the Clouds.” But it’s also an album that takes you into another space, away from tragedy.
Threshold Point pushes Wøllo’s sound in new directions including a couple of percussive tracks that aren’t the norm for him. The “Mosaic of Time” quartet draws upon his work in African music with Senegalese singer Kuoame Sereba as well as the techno tribal sound of Jon Hassell. “Mosaic of Time 1-Route Diverge” builds on a cyclical percussion loop with a Jon Hassell trumpet-like tone blown across winds out of the Serengeti. “MOT2- Threshold Point” loops an even heavier, more African based percussion loop pushing under a siren swirl of synthesizers and a spare piano melody.
Much of the album has an expansive serenity, especially when he taps landscapes for inspiration. As if Norway didn’t get the chilled vibe going enough, “Ravel Peak” is an ascent up that mountain located in Antarctica. Named for the French composer Maurice Ravel, Wøllo creates a quietly searing track with an elongated trumpet-like synth melody moving across ice-sheathed synth drones in a rhythm-free ambience.
Erik Wøllo has long been a master of melodic ambient music. It’s the cinematic soundscape of travels. “Traverse” is the kind of music you put on during cross country drives, long train rides and mountain ascents to soundtrack your experience with an insistent sequencer groove leading into a searing electric guitar solo of siren sustains. It’s also the sound of interior travels on “Eons”, mapping the mind and emotions in a meditative, deep state-of-mind descent. Threshold Point is specifically concerned with the concept of passing through into another plane of existence or experience, but Erik Wøllo’s music always takes you to another place. -John Diliberto