2CD, Projekt, 2011
The next CD 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 too concerns a double CD in the heavy cardboard digipack with esoteric design, just the way we are used from Sam Rosenthal.
Erik Wøllo is a new name for me, but according to Discogs he has musically been 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 styles 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 heavy 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 or ethnicity and rituals, Erik Wøllo much more fills the composition with melodies and synthetic explorations. Which makes both releases have a very definite own 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