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Erik Wøllo — Where It All Begins
(Monumental MonCD 9903, 1983/1999, CD)

by Peter Thelen, Published 2000-05-01

Where It All Begins Cover art

If all you’ve known of Wøllo is his later ambient / synth oriented Images of Light period material, you are in for a real treat with this, a reissue of his very first album from 1982. Wøllo plays acoustic and electric guitar — brilliantly I might add — with other musicians supplying keys, oboe, vibraphone, and percussion. There’s plenty of compositional variety herewithin, yet the overall context has a very ECM-meets-early Windham Hill vibe, an instrumental outing with elements of jazz, ambient, chamber, and progressive working together seamlessly, and a ton of originality. One might be reminded of his countryman Terje Rypdal at times, yet the mood here is perhaps a bit more introspective and free spirited, maybe touched by the spirit of John Ambercombie’s Characters as well. On several of the album’s most memorable pieces, Wøllo defines the basic melodic theme early on with acoustic guitar, which is later developed by the keyboard work of Øystein Sevag and Bynjar Hoff’s oboe. On tunes like “Hydne” and the title track, the electric guitar becomes the focal point, with a powerful electric piano presence on the former, and support from hand drums and vibraphone on the latter. A full sidelong suite from his 1984 album Dreams of Pyramids was added as a bonus track, rounding out the set nicely. This one comes highly recommended, and is a strong contender for my best reissue of the year list.

Filed under: Reissues, Issue 19, 1999 releases, 1983 recordings

Related artist(s): Erik Wøllo


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