02: Viewpoint (00:00)
03: Surreale (00:00)
04: Stillness (00:00)
05: Towards the Blue Horizon (00:00)
06: Nightscape (00:00)
07: Equilibrium (00:00)
08: Hidden Stars (00:00)
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Renowned Norwegian ambient / electronic artist Erik Wøllo’s «NORTH STAR» evolved from layers of sustained guitars inspiring infinite space and a minimal essence, creating a spell of slow, melodic soundscapes.
The North Star has been important to humans for thousands of years, not just because it is a bright, easily identifiable guiding light to orient yourself, but its fixed position in the sky helped people measure their progress as they traveled on great journeys.
The North Star has always fascinated me, both as a natural phenomenon and as a symbol for cosmic eternity. As children we always looked for this star, and with the angle towards the horizon we could find the north direction. As a musical metaphor to me, compositions that are both celestial and stellar express a timeless and permanent state of mind when the world changes around you. It represents limitless possibilities and infinite wonder with sparks of imagination from which dreams are formed.
Similar in creative style to my 2019 release Infinite Moments, the music is based upon multiple layers of sustained Ebow guitars. However, the sound took a totally new expansive and evolved trajectory with melodic elements, rhythmic arpeggio loops and some percussion added to the treated guitar ensembles. The mood from the early Ebows are still there pointing and setting the emotional direction: vast and spacious, minimalistic and sparse in character. I also included some ambient nature sounds to place the music into a more scenic environment.
«NORTH STAR» is an inward journey of stillness and reflection. Music that shifts between contemplation and intimacy, impulse and reflection. I aimed to create a cohesive album with each track adding to a unified whole, yet retaining separate character that stands on its own. It is more like a sequence of photos of a journey in an album rather than chapters in a book. The music turns each moment of listening into something more vivid than is possible in any earthly spell of time. Always with a slow and calm pace.
Music has always been very important in people’s lives. Over the last 15 months I have received more emails than usual from my listeners, thanking me for helping make the world a little bit of a better place for them. With «NORTH STAR» I hope to continue giving music lovers some more inspiration for their lives. Art can expand and give the mind a broader horizon. Seems like we, as composers, have an extra special mission these days.
Erik Wøllo, April 2021
Tote: Black with white & purple ink on one side. 12.0 oz. 100% heavy cotton canvas; 9″ handle drop; holds at least 23 LPs.
From Sonic Immersion
With North Star, accomplished musician Erik Wollo brings his audience a highly emotive and imaginary journey inspired by The North Star, the beacon up in the sky which guided human travel for many years. It’s another quality recording with a lush, expansive sound design, most of all guitar-oriented as it is based upon multiple layers of sustained Ebow guitar in line of Erik’s 2019 release Infinite Moments. Combos of smooth synth pads, sustained e-guitar and percussion merge sophisticatedly, painting a melodic (sometimes minimalist-shaped) sonic ambience unfolding quiet and almost poetic before the mind’s eye.
The 51-minute result is timeless, overall relaxing and a fine companion to make your mind wander off.
From Ambient Blog
Norwegian artist Erik Wøllo has released over 50 albums since the early 80s. In that time he covered a wide range of styles, but in more recent years he developed a highly personal approach to ambient music. His guitar is his main instrument, which is mostly used to create bright, almost acoustic, ‘picked’ melodies (as opposed to stretched electric guitar layers). Embedding these in electronic layers that cover “space, drone, new age, and electronic music”, he “builds a bridge between grand symphonic realms and gentle, minimal and serene atmospheres”.
The North star has been an easily identifiable guiding light to orient oneself for thousands of years. To Wøllo, it also is “a musical metaphor, compositions that are both celestial and stellar express a timeless and permanent state of mind when the world changes around you.
“The music is based upon multiple layers of sustained Ebow guitars. However, [compared to his 2019 release Infinite Moments] the sound took a totally new expansive and evolved trajectory with melodic elements, rhythmic arpeggio loops and some percussion added to the treated guitar ensembles. The mood from the early Ebows sets the emotional direction: vast and spacious, minimalistic and sparse in character. I also included some ambient nature sounds to place the music into a more scenic environment.”
Music from the Scandinavian north is often referred to a ‘cold’ and ‘arctic’. With its warm and welcoming atmosphere, North Star is clearly the exception to that rule.
From Darkroom Magazine
Ormai da tempo parte integrante del roster della blasonata Projekt, il compositore norvegese ne è in breve tempo diventato uno dei nomi di punta, forte di un’esperienza maturata in quarant’anni di dedizione alla ricerca sonora sia come musicista che nelle vesti di produttore. Ennesimo tassello in una discografia che supera i quaranta album pubblicati, North Star vede il veterano scandinavo alle prese con le fidate chitarre elettriche/synth, con le percussioni e col programming per creare gli otto episodi di un lavoro fra i più intimi dell’attuale fase della sua carriera, come l’iniziale “Arkipel” mette subito in chiaro con le sue tenui movenze. L’aspetto percussivo è centellinato attentamente, divenendo la base ideale e sottilmente avvolgente per i bei ricami alla sei corde di “Viewpoint”, con un approccio ossessivo che più spesso vive nell’intreccio fra guitar synth e chitarra vera e propria (“All The Way”, “Towards The Blue Horizon”). È tuttavia l’intimismo a guidare la scrittura (“Stillness” ne è l’esempio più lampante), sulle ali di una morbidezza melodica che accarezza con estrema grazia l’ascoltatore (“Nightscape”, “Light Among Shadows”), prima che le linee dai toni ambient della conclusiva title-track pongano placidamente fine all’ascolto. Pubblicato in un essenziale digipack, North Star è un lavoro che ribadisce con classe e buon gusto quali siano le prerogative di un autore sempre attento a non fossilizzarsi su formule imprigionanti, vera e propria garanzia in un panorama musicale nel quale sono in molti a scadere nel ripetitivo e nel ridondante. -Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi
The Norwegian guitarist, composer, and ambient electronic artist offers his second album of 2021, following February’s Recurrence and his virtual appearance at SoundQuest Fest at the end of March. The eight tracks herein fulfill a calming, relaxing, yet melodically beautiful function, built upon numerous reflective layers of expansive eBow washes, contemplative melodic elements that drive a rich and sparkling intimacy that shimmers with colorful beauty, evoking deep forest and night sky imagery, pulling the listener’s imagination skyward. That said, the music of North Star is powerfully introspective, full of stillness and reflection as each piece moves slowly along its trajectory, painting with a magical palette in multiple dimensions.
The mechanics of his infinite sustaining sounds are created with a variety of electric guitars and effects, guitar synthesizer, aforementioned eBow, and on some of the tracks, loops of percussion, real and programmed, but never imposing on the ambient beauty of the spellbinding sound textures and melodic imagery. Curious travellers may want to view Wøllo’s performance at SoundQuest Fest (it’s an easy find on the internet), though I have to say that his music is best experienced in darkness with headphones without any visual stimulus other than the far reaches of the listener’s imagination. Standouts include the opener “Arkipel,” the powerful and imaginative “Nightscape,” the looping magic of “Stillness,” the gently lilting “Viewpoint” with its unforgettable melody and percussive elements, and the expansive title track which comes all the way at the end of the set. Another powerful set from Wøllo. -Peter Thelen
From Synth & Sequences
What a wonderful, quiet and poetic album my friends! After a 2021 that gave us two solid albums, the Norwegian bard gets back with a formula that served him so well in the early 2010′ with a smooth acoustic vision. Still textured from his guitar strings that tangle and articulate that only his E-Bow technique allows, the music of Erik Wollo flows like poems put into music. Available in manufactured CD and DDL on Projekt Records, NORTH STAR takes us back to these days of Airborne and those E.P.’s suite that followed up to the Timelines album. Barely over 50 minutes long, this a bouquet of musical flowers that Erik Wøllo offers us with his unique texture of ambient neo-folk woven from his guitar and ancient rhythms that also flirt with the origins of Mike Oldfield’s revered Ommadawn album and in more acoustic versions of those found on album Convergence, I’m thinking of The Way Ahead 1 and 2.
After a slow introduction depicting a thawing stream, the hollow breezes and torments of prismatic winds bring Arkipel out of its silence. Erik Wollo gives a glimpse of his E-Bow’s possibilities with layers of guitar sustained between two firmaments as an initial melody plucked on his six-string is sequenced into a musical canon form. There is shimmer and electricity in this ambient folk. Erik uses his guitar as a synth, and even a sequencer, creating sequences of melodies that are perpetuated by varying the strength of the volume that varies the level of our emotions. After this soft meditative caress, Viewpoint offers a very catchy rhythm tied by a series of sequenced riffs. The guitar sounds like Manuel Göttsching here with beautiful attempts for short solos that drown in this soundscape filled to the brim with streaks with colors as romantic as intriguing. The rhythm turns into a tribal trance with good aboriginal hand percussions and a beautiful bass with elastic percussive chords. The moans of the six-string crisscross a sky delimited by the prismatic striations of the guitar. All the Way offers an ambient opening with a nice melody evoking melancholy sculpted into the guitar. Orchestrations add a cinematic color which is concretized with the addition of sound effects towards the finale. Stillness is a superb track with a melancholic music where the orchestrated striations make us run the hairs on our arms. They groan in an ambient tumult proposed by these layers which pile up with an overwhelming heaviness, imaging this lover wounded by the departure of his beloved whom he looks by the window without the words, lost in the tears, coming to him.
Towards the Blue Horizon features a tribal ambient structure with sequenced percussions beating a linear beat ideal for receiving a fluty chant. I have the perception that the rhythm, although I can clearly hear the percussions, is also sculpted by a series of curtly broken riffs. Imagine Ommadawn and you’ll be comfortable with the idea! Without evolving, the track gives off an intensity from those screaming shadows from the E-Bow. A very nice track that gave me the taste to listen again to Ommadawn and Amarok. Nightscape proposes an ambient rhythm structured by guitar chords sequenced in a minimalist rhythm. The waves of sounds from the E-Bow travel with a sibylline hue while other notes from an acoustic six-string shape a nostalgic romance. A soft, pleasant, sequenced melody serves the semi-rhythmic structure of Light Among Shadows. I like the two layers of guitar in the opening, including the slightly more subdued bass notes that give us an intimate rendezvous with our memories even further away. A bass adds a series of static pulses to this ambient neo-folk whose shadows navigate quite well with the rhythm base. A melodious and playful track that fits quite well with the meaning of the title. The title-track is a monument of music for tenebrous ambiences with waves of sounds accumulating in austere layers with this tone of a Mephistophelian organ that gradually increases its curve of intensity. Being inspired by this north star that serves like a compass wherever we are, we let ourselves be sucked in by this black wave and its parapsychic assets until it brings us to the foot of where it all began, Arkipel…
Lacking the raw energy of Recurrence, NORTH STAR takes us down the paths of the Norwegian bard’s quiet musical poetry. There’s a dimension to this new Erik Wollo album that favors a bit more folk than ambient tribal, though the paths between the two genres are wisely inserted. From track to track, the listener can discover the acoustic side of an album built in such a way as to rally the fans of the first hour to those who have just discovered Erik Wollo with Convergence. -Sylvain Lupari (June 14th, 2021) Rating: 4 out of 5
From Stars End
Fans of Erik Wøllo find his music so engaging that the act of listening leaves them little time for anything else. Leading us through the psyche of the artist his albums portray places not know until we reach them. A marvel in its structure, execution and heart North Star (51’09”) reminds us of the power of music, the rigor of musicianship, the joy of creativity, and the realization of potential. Where the output of his contemporaries may unnerve, Wøllo reassures. Exciting to behold North Star‘s eight tracks each have the distinct sensation of encountering a miraculous mind. As we step from our familiar moment into an alternative realm of swimming sonics and cerebral energy, listeners are transported deep into a world that we are eager to grasp.
Exploring the potential of sending his guitar through an endless array of digital processors Wøllo designs a rich and varied aural palette. The playing builds slowly, then proceeds in a measured surge of plucked steel strings, breathing chords and sustaining E-bow notes – all surrounded by a luxuriant atmosphere of harmony and texture. Submitting to this dreamy quality we find that each note seems to carry its own message. A new pleasure born every moment, themes linger just long enough to stir the memory. In profound moments of contemplation unnamable tones mingle with undulating drones. Elsewhere, forward motion is attained in North Star‘s pulsing synthetic percussion and snaking electric guitar leads. Ghostly assemblages of drifting electronics merge to form bright major chords or mysteriously minor ones. As the soundscape darkens, dulcet melodies glide gracefully above waiting fading forms – stilled in the long cold between stars. Some pieces are of a scale that asks listeners to become lost in their dimensions, yet further in an intimate ballad offers familiar moments of stillness and repose – akin to one of life’s small redemptive mercies.
As stargazers study The Universe, musicians ponder the mind, and what to fill it with. Listening to this work beneath the dark arch of the night sky we may imagine escaping the limitations of the Earthly plane. Throughout North Star Erik Wøllo’s nuanced gestures are fully readable, and the music is exactly what it wants to be. Looking toward the stars, Wøllo’s music heads straight for the heart – so that we may awaken to what is inside. -Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END 17 June 2021