Erik Wøllo – Silent Currents

Erik Wøllo - Silent Currents

2CD, Projekt, 2011

The next disc to hit the CD player (not the built-in computer thing with shitty speakers, relax!) is by the Norwegian musician Erik Wøllo. Just like the recently reviewed Projekt release by Steve Roach, this also concerns a double-CD in the heavy cardboard digipack with esoteric design, just the way we are used to getting from Sam Rosenthal.
Erik Wøllo is a new name for me, but according to Discogs he has been musically active since 1983, with 22 releases under his own name. The last few years, there have been annual releases on Projekt, so it seems he found his home. ‘Guitarist, synthesist and composer’ is how he is labelled in the promo sheet, and all of these aspects will turn out to be true.
But first things first: “Silent Currents (Live at Star’s End)” makes us curious for one thing. Not whether the CD contains live recordings, because that’s a given. But the “Star’s End” part… It turns out to be the world’s longest running radio-show on the subject of ambient. To be precise, it’s been on weekly since 1976 in the Philadelphia area. The recordings presented on this release were made when Erik played at The Gatherings festival in 2002 and 2007 and “Star’s End” asked him to do a live show on their program.
With two double-CD releases in the same style packaging, both live and both on the same label (ref: Steve Roach – “Journey Of One”) it’s a bit obvious that, as a reviewer, one tends to compare. Not a bad thing, and style-wise the releases do come close. Both have those heavily layered ambience, analog sounding pads, etheric atmosphere, yet still there is also a very clear difference between the two artists. Where Steve Roach is working mostly with aspects of ethnicity and rituals, Erik Wøllo fills the composition much more with melodies and synthetic explorations. Which causes both releases to have a very definite unique style, even though they do sound alike for the untrained listener.
To make a long story short, an absolute ‘Do Try This At Home’ for ambient lovers who don’t mind the progressive use of guitar and other melodic instruments, and who do know where and how ambient music started.


— Bauke van der Wal