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Erik Wøllo — Cloud of Strings
(Projekt PRO411, 2023, CD / DL)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2023-10-08

Cloud of Strings Cover art

Word that preceeded Wøllo’s latest album, Cloud of Strings, suggested that this would be a guitar album, as in electric and acoustic guitars, and my mind immediately raced back to the 80s to those early albums like Where It All Begins and Dreams of Pyramids, albums that embraced a strong ECM type jazz element while remaining dreamy and full of space. Well, that’s not what this is — although to be honest there are more guitars here that sound like real guitars than on any of his albums in at least a couple decades. Indeed,  the strong lure of synthetic sounds has pulled Mr. Wøllo in a whole new direction from the tasty jazz that permeated his work in much earlier years. While what is here is mostly in the moody ambient and introspective style of his more recent work, it is accomplished mostly with acoustic and electric guitars (and gobs of studio reverb and echo), and less reliance on synthesizers, certainly a refreshing turn that opens a new page in the Wøllo canon. So many of the dozen tracks here are just dripping with elegance and beauty, like “Ecotopia,” “Memory Ocean,” or the title track for example, feature many layers of guitars in their native state, sometimes with complimentary effects, eBow, and studio processing, all in service to the melody and contemplative spirit that moves everything forward with grace. The arrangements sometimes include kantele and other stringed instruments, and light percussion as well, plus the inclusion of real world sampled sounds, though only to the degree that they exist to enhance the compositions, like the gentle hand drums that underscore the subtle rhythm in “Motion Picture.” As one proceeds through the set, Cloud of Strings presents elements of texture, melodies, and depth that might immediately remind longtime fans of albums like Guitar Nova, Wind Journey, and Blue Sky, Red Guitars from the late 90s; indeed, this is a most refreshing album that paints beautiful images with the sound of guitars.

Filed under: New releases, 2023 releases

Related artist(s): Erik Wøllo

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