Erik Wøllo: the Shape of Time (CD/Digital)

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Product Description

01: The Shape of Time 1 (4:18)
02: Nebula (4:26)
03: Le Paysage (5:37)
04: Earth Trek (6:48)
05: Midnight Sun (6:39)
06: Transformation (7:15)
07: The Shape of Time 2 (5:34)
08: Runestones (6:46)
09: Blue Epilogue (7:05)
10: Slow Swirl (7:43)
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Time shapes our world and our concepts. From earth’s erosion to patterns in nature — fossils, stone formations, crystalline ice, glaciers, or delicate shells — all visual images of forms show us the linear time which passed across them. Simultaneously, there is the quite personal psychological time that shapes our life and memories; it’s how we perceive the progress of our consciousness. Within both, time remains an abstract term with no shape. It can only be explained as a rate and duration of observed change.


Together, these ideas inspired Erik Wøllo in the creation of his latest album.


With The Shape of Time, Norwegian composer Wøllo transforms the abstract into nine compositions of thoughtful and seductive ambient electronic music with melodic soaring themes, vast slow-moving drones and rhythmic patterns drifting in cycles of transmutable harmonies. These hushed and endless moments present an exquisite collection of moods and emotions. Ranging from the vigorous and earthy to mesmerizing, evocative and wistful late-night Nordic light-scenes. All created on synthesizers, samplers, electric and acoustic guitars.


The opening title track choir floats between a few simple but lush chords, an almost neoclassical sound-painting of a vivid panoramic picture. The track returns in a second movement later in the program as a sonic meditation of introspective longing combing the mind and memories; it bears resemblance to the first track via the same virtual sampled choir. The spacious “Nebula”, the instantly appealing and memorable “Le Paysage” and “Earth Trek” carry on from where the opener leaves off: colorful soaring sounds exist within a backdrop of swirling textural sequences and light percussion offering a positive experience. “Midnight Sun” has a melodic form based on the Norwegian lullaby tradition, almost unreal picturing the golden night-times in a Scandinavian summer. Gently sweeping sonic clouds surround the repeating notes that ring out in the memorable “Transformation.” “Runestones” finds its way through a rhythmic drive with a web of mysterious cavernous floating drifts. A sense of peace, calm, and diffusion imbues the listener along the ending path on “Blue Epilogue” and “Slow Swirl.”


The Shape of Time invites one to the procession; it’s a sonic jewel for connoisseurs of shimmeringly expansive ambience traversed with filigreed instrumental intensity.

Projekt release: January 20 2023

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Reviews

  1. Reviews Editor

    From Exposé

    I’ve spent several decades trying to appreciate whatever it is that Norwegian composer and multi-instrumentalist Erik Wøllo is doing, following him from label to label (Origo, Eurock, Monumental, Spotted Peccary, Projekt, and others) but it’s always been a mystery why a very skilled guitarist like himself would essentially abandon that instrument and instead use it only as trigger for synthesizers. Certainly he makes beautiful sounds in that mode, gracefully flowing edifices of softness and color, shimmering pillars of light and shadows, swirling mesmerizing pillows of sound that blossom with delicate beauty leaving a powerful effect on the listener. But I had to go all the way back to his first album to find guitar sounds that sound like a guitar — that wonderful release where it all first began. Wøllo’s appearance at Soundquest Fest 2021 was certainly something that helped this listener come to a better understanding of his process of compositional creation, which has further informed my appreciation of his craft.

    The album at hand, The Shape of Time, seems to be geared toward a perceived observation of the passage of time, short term (days or years) or long term (epochs), though the composer’s intent could be just about anything; the music likely emerged well before the titles like “Le Paysage,” “Runestones,” or the two-part title track, but like all of Wøllo’s releases of late, there seems to be an abundance of searching and reaching out, a quest for beauty and brilliance in the emergent building blocks of sound creation. The music floats and wanders, sometimes bubbles softly with gentle or percussive sequences, sometimes dancing like sprites in the night sky, there’s even a beautiful and inspired acoustic guitar solo during “Midnight Sun,” backed by a swirling blanket of colorful starlight. The gently simmering “Blue Epilogue,” with its percussion loop, sounds like it should be the final track (with a title like that), but it isn’t, instead leading into the appropriately titled “Slow Swirl,” a powerful ending to this epic journey. -Peter Thelen

  2. Reviews Editor

    From Star’s End

    Erik Wøllo believes that the greatest calling lies in contributing to the world’s store of beauty. Throughout a celebrated career he has displayed a radiant receptivity to this labor. The Shape of Time (62’30”) is more than just ten tracks of ethereal music – they are symphonies of thought, miniature manifestos of reason, odes to the realization of existence, and pulsing with an aliveness quite real. With an extraordinary musical elegance and generosity of spirit, his work furtively constellates into a masterwork of Spacemusic. Realized with an artist’s fervor for expression, The Shape of Time plays out into a world that will only be the better for having heard it. As meaning blurs into music we are drawn into the nocturnal landscape of the mind – where ultimate truth resides.

    Dark spheres of harmony congeal and spark against steel stringed electric guitar melodies writhing beneath half-built stars. Prowling in the lower range, dramatic gestures rise in calculated rhythms and nuanced variations. Conspicuous extensions, beginning all contained and subdued, ascend – scaling the heights of the angelic realm. A turning of texture over time, free of profanity, fear or frenzy, we bask in a golden hour consonance. Cloudlessly calm, with chords, phrases, and single notes suspended like brushstrokes of color on a white canvas, The Shape of Time is a thoroughly enlivening listening experience. Flawlessly constructed, and written like a dream, this album rises from mere luminous rumination to continents of sound set in shivering tonal plains. Brimming with beautiful moments, the cumulative effect is powerful. In his precision-tooled drift the serene allure of Wøllo’s work charms all those who attend. He is a world maker – an inventor of a richly appointed fantasy realm. May his music descend into your heart and elevate your soul – so that you may not remain idly numb to the wonders of this world. -Chuck van Zyl/STAR’S END 9 February 2023

  3. Reviews Editor

    From Ambient Blog
    The opening title track starts with a choral introduction. which, in the end, morphs into the guitar-based ambient style we’ve come to know from Erik Wøllo. Assuming of course that you’re familiar with some of his earlier work: after all this productive Norwegian composer has released over 55 albums since 1980 and so may be called one of the veterans of ambient music.

    His trademark sound is created with the guitar as a primary instrument to create ‘space, drone, new age and electronic music, building a bridge between grand symphonic realms and gentle, minimal and serene atmospheres’. The Shape of Time is a great example.

    ‘Time remains an abstract term with no shape. It can only be explained as a rate and duration of observed change. Wøllo transforms the abstract into nine compositions of thoughtful and seductive ambient electronic music with melodic soaring themes, vast slow-moving drones and rhythmic patterns drifting in cycles of transmutable harmonies.’

  4. Reviews Editor

    From Synth & Sequences

    Time is a notion that serves to measure these abstract distances between yesterday and tomorrow. It is the term used by the sages, those scientists and thinkers of the early times, to give an age to the various stages of our evolution. It is also the theme of Erik Wøllo’s latest album, who has become a master in the art of exploiting these abstract themes that surround our universe. Available on January 23rd on the American label Projekt Records, The Shape of Time will be one of the Norwegian bard’s most beautiful albums. With its 8 tracks spread over 62 minutes, the Scandinavian guitarist-synthesist sets the soundscapes of his Nordic country to music in meditative textures that are finely animated by these ambient rhythms, thus further stimulating the power of our imagination. The balance is perfect between these zones of serenity and these rhythms where our neurons dance with this vision of flirting with time.

    The Shape of Time 1 invites us to this new album with a musical synth wave that splits its scope between a layer of celestial voices and a layer of synth whose warm shadow drifts in the dreams of these seraphic voices. Without rhythmic life, the movement hovers gently until it turns into hollow breezes that carry sound crystals. The shadows of a bass sculpt discrete phantom impulses, reminding us that nothing is immutable in Erik Wøllo’s universe. Our ears well wrapped up in this decor where the cold courts its opposite, Le Paysage follows with an effect of stridulations which nibbles a cerulean synth wave. The breath of a bass layer injects a lyrical aura to these ambiences that turn into a delicate passive rhythm. The beats resonate in suspension, combining ambient rhythm with meditative melody on a beautiful musical reverie that takes a second momentum with the arrival of percussion a few seconds after the 2nd minute. The shadow of the rhythm projects a tasty mirror effect, condensing its echo in a sustained ambient rhythm. Erik adorns the whole with chords from his electric guitar that harmoniously respond to the echo of the ambient rhythm. Le Paysage becomes infinitely touching when guitar tears start to rain down on it. A very beautiful track! The Scandinavian bard makes shinning his knowledge by proposing a gradation in the order of the titles of this The Shape of Time cd. Earth Trek proposes a structure closer to electronic rock with a very good pairing of percussion elements, some of which have this tone of wooden clogs that clash in the void, and a semi jerky flow of the sequencer. A cloud of orchestral haze and of angelic voices hum over this rhythm that establishes a good interaction with our neurons. One can sleep there certainly, as one can dance there with the head in the clouds. The guitar is a witch with its chartreuse lamentations in the more sibylline atmospheres of Nebula. Its hollow synth breezes and these frightened voices are not foreign to this tenebrous vision which encircles the atmospheres of this purely meditative title.

    Midnight Sun is a track that will give you a good handful of chills with its bluesman guitar weeping in the sighs of a seraphic trumpet and its warm fluty tone. The orchestrations, not to mention the sampling of a mechanical landscape, are elements of that tenderness that paves the way for the guitar. Synth moans flow over an austere wave in the opening of Transformation. This obscure opening, which joins the moods of Nebula, is decorated with tinkling and fascinating organic lapping effects. Shimmers are gradually added as the wave spreads its ascending presence that is woven into the shadow of its passion. These shimmers become a light sequence of abstract rhythm of which the fine jerks are escorted by a synth air cut into loops in a sonic firmament dominated by a layer of rumblings and a distant melody hummed by a soulless choir. The Shape of Time 2 takes up the same thematic of its first part but with a slightly more intense vision, as a little more tenebrous. Runestones quietly emerges from its atmospheric opening to a rhythm as gentle and meditative as that of Earth Trek. Its circular ascent is guided by amazing percussive effects that tinkle in another dimension of orchestral haze. These tinkles, guitar and keyboard riffs as well as some sequences complete this seductive rhythmic pattern. Another beautiful track in this superb collection of the Norwegian bard to which we must also add Blue Epilogue, which borrows from this rhythmic potion of Earth Trek with claps of hooves that resonate in a meditative rhythmic structure. Slow Swirl helps us to come down from these musical and poetic clouds conceived by Erik Wøllo for the comfort of our 62 minutes meditative incubation. This purely ambient title extirpates us from these structures of rhythms where we dance with the stars and with our dreams in a nice atmospheric gliding movement which respects the meaning of its title.

    The Shape of Time is a very beautiful album which has not much to envy to Convergence, one of the best albums of 2020. Sailing on the poetry of its sensibility, the music is listened to from one end to the other, helping us to imagine soundscapes that exist only in the imagination. Erik Wøllo deftly pulls us out of these reveries to revel us in the lyricism of rhythmic structures designed to keep us straddling these two poles. Where his abstract forms of time become more figurative phases! Rating: 4.25/5 -Sylvain Lupari

  5. Reviews Editor

    From CD Hot List
    Joint review for Erik Wøllo The Shape of Time and Forrest Fang The Lost Seasons of Amorphia
    Two recent releases from the venerable Projekt label showcase very different approaches to the general category of ambient music. Norwegian composer Erik Wøllo’s album The Shape of Time reflects his contemplations of how time works on both the planetary and the personal/psychological levels. There are choir sounds, swirling textures, and the creation of the kinds of enormous sonic spaces that the album’s title and theme would suggest. As with all good ambient music, it’s attractive and quiet but never cloying or saccharine.
    Forrest Fang takes a different approach: his music is based on a fusion of electronic and acoustic instruments, and draws on influences as disparate as Japanese gagaku court music, Indonesian gamelan, and Chinese classical composition. Fang’s music is more minimal, with less harmonic movement; his pieces tend to hover in place rather than drift in a specific direction. “Inlets” uses a hammered zither in a hypnotic way that evokes Laraaji’s 1980s recordings with Brian Eno, while other tracks hint at the phasing processes popular with 1960s minimalists. Both albums are richly rewarding and recommended to all libraries.

  6. Reviews Editor

    From Darkroom Magazine

    The first release of 2023 for the renowned and prolific Norwegian composer is The Shape Of Time, yet another Projekt release in a partnership between the label and the long-lived musician that has lasted since 2009. Made in the usual essential digipack, the new work gives display of all the typical characteristics of Wøllo’s writing, ranging from ambient to electronic with the usual wide range of guitars (acoustic, electric, synth, Ebow…) and machines, from analogue to digital, taking advantage of when in which percussive patterns that complement the various passages properly. Never really dark, the ambient prefers ethereal and luminous forms (the two parts of the title track, with the second almost messianic), ranging from the mysterious and rarefied (“Transformation”) to the purest tenuity (“Slow Swirl”) and to the drone sadness (“Nebula”). The moments in which the guitar becomes the real protagonist (“Le Paysage” and, above all, “Midnight Sun”) are good, just as those episodes in which the subtle ambient textures evolve towards an always absolutely measured electronics prove to be largely functional to the cause, in which the rhythms prefer chillout movements. Wøllo doesn’t go off the rails, continuing quickly towards a well-defined path that always gives high-quality rehearsals in every sense, even when they don’t shift any balance: a certainty, especially for fans of the most radiant and wide-ranging ambient sounds. -Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi

    La prima uscita del 2023 per il rinomato e prolifico compositore norvegese è The Shape Of Time, ennesima pubblicazione targata Projekt in un sodalizio fra l’etichetta ed il longevo musicista che dura dal 2009. Realizzato nel consueto essenziale digipack, il nuovo lavoro dà sfoggio di tutte le caratteristiche tipiche della scrittura di Wøllo, spaziando fra l’ambient e l’elettronica col solito ampio corredo di chitarre (acustiche, elettriche, synth, Ebow…) e macchine, dall’analogico al digitale, sfruttando di quando in quando pattern percussivi che completano a dovere i vari passaggi. Mai realmente oscura, l’ambient del Nostro predilige forme eteree e luminose (le due parti della title-track, con la seconda quasi messianica), spaziando dal misterico e rarefatto (“Transformation”) alla più pura tenuità (“Slow Swirl”) ed alla mestizia dronica (“Nebula”). Bene i momenti in cui la chitarra diventa reale protagonista (“Le Paysage” e, soprattutto, “Midnight Sun”), così come si rivelano ampiamente funzionali alla causa quegli episodi in cui le sottili trame ambientali evolvono verso un’elettronica sempre assolutamente misurata, in cui i ritmi prediligono movenze chillout. Wøllo non esce dal seminato, proseguendo spedito verso una strada ben definita che regala sempre prove di alta qualità in ogni senso, anche quando queste non spostano alcun equilibrio: una certezza, specialmente per i patiti delle sonorità ambientali più radiose e di ampio raggio. -Roberto Alessandro Filippozzi

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