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Erik Wøllo — Emotional Landscapes
(Spotted Peccary SPM-1203, 2003, CD)

by Paul Hightower, Published 2003-08-01

Emotional Landscapes Cover art

In his early work, Eric Wøllo struck me as a Norwegian version of Steve Tibbetts. Today he’s less acoustic and more synthesized, though the atmospheres that so vividly conjure up frozen northern landscapes haven’t gone away. As a composer Wøllo is a minimalist, typically employing blankets of soft synth (keyboard and guitar) sequences and washes to establish tonal foundations that then receive loosely arranged and delicately played instrumental passages on top. For these he uses mainly keyboards and guitar (acoustic and electric), though on “Sounds of the Seen” (presented in two parts) he is accompanied by Liv Frengstad’s achingly gorgeous cello. On part 1 of this song he allows the arrangement to launch into deliciously modern territory through the use of some urgent percussion that displays plenty of awareness of the current techno / ambient scene. To cool things down the next piece, “Valley,” consists entirely of looping and layered electric guitar, smothered in reverb. It demonstrates the distance Wøllo is able to traverse within a relatively narrow stylistic approach. A more dynamic and rhythmic feel appears on the tracks “Virtual World” and “Mountain Beach,” though these are the exceptions to what is otherwise as delicious a set of ambient atmospheres as you’ll find these days. And for pure ambient bliss the closer “Echo of Night” is followed by three minutes of silence before yielding hidden treasure: the 11 minute long “Cadence.” Wøllo and Spotted Peccary are a perfect match and hopefully there’ll be more to come. Regardless, Emotional Landscapes is a must for ambient fans everywhere.

Filed under: New releases, Issue 27, 2003 releases

Related artist(s): Erik Wøllo

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