Erik Wollo's music floats with the grace of a hawk, effortlessly riding air currents that are left painted and glistening in his
But what sounds effortless is actually deeply layered, intricately woven and composed with a poetic language.
Sometimes Erik is acoustic, as on GUITAR NOVA, sometimes all electronic, like
POLAR DRONES, but it's on the blending of
two worlds that BLUE SKY, RED
GUITARS really glistens. Erik Wollo bases most of his compositions on ostinato
flicker at your consciousness like a mandala in motion, constantly
cycling in prismatic shifts. Because of this
and his arching single
string e-bow solos, Wollo's music has an Indian sensibility,
without sounding Indian at all.
Revealing roots that you might not suspect from most of his music, Wollo covers
two songs from German electro-dance
Kraftwerk. He transforms their "In the Hall of Mirrors" and "Computerlove" into pastoral guitar chamber
It's difficult to make music that is at once pristine and still screams through the
air, but Erik Wollo does it on
BLUE SKY, RED GUITARS, an album that is about as
perfect as they come.
© 2004 John Diliberto
BACKROADS MUSIC (USA):
We might have said this before, but this is guitar music unlike anything previously
heard. And one fantastic CD, nother in a long line of
Wollo discs that bear
comments like “masterpiece” and “stunning achievement”. Rich beyond description
with texture and melody,
this music is highly scuplyed and detailed, resulting in a
pulsing, vibrant and atmospherically three-dimensional experience.
Influenced by his travels to the North American
southwest, Wollo manifests these natural wonders
through his instrument,
painting profiound vistas with many types of acoustic,
electric, electronic and classical guitar voices.
Shades of Michael Brook, Buckethead, Mark Dwane....
A total winner!
MANTARAY PICTURES (USA):
I love this CD. It is so heavenly pleasant to listen to that it forces you into a good
mood. What more can you ask for with
Erik Wøllo creates
astounding soundscape of ambience with clean guitars, moody keyboards, trance-like
loops and active percussion.
guitar work sings out almost as a whispery
voice taking you to the places Erik Wøllo wants you to reach.
"Blue Sky" plays like the beauty of the Grand Canyon. The big open space of the
soundscape with bright guitar tone
put me at ease. I almost felt like getting up and dancing in the light of "Computerlove."
The light airy rhythm sets you up for "Destiny." This rhythm pattern is really special, as it sounds huge and open. Wøllo tops this
wide-open space rhythm with little guitar touches that highlight the rhythm of the track.
"In the Hall of Mirrors" has a Latin romantic quality. Maybe it's because the guitar sounds Flamenco in this track. There's an uplifting
rush of emotion to "Moving." Wøllo creates this a dreamlike pattern on guitar and percussion.
With "Rain Tree" I can picture scenic oriental countryside. I got caught in the tranquil breeze of "Sedona."
The swaying of the
guitar rhythm and acoustic guitar embellishment of "Silent Nostalgia" reminded me of the softer playing of
The last track sums of the entire album "Timeless." BLUE SKY, RED GUITARS is one of my favorite CDs from 2004.
- Terry Wickham
WIND AND WIRE (USA)
Erik Wøllo, the Norwegian guitarist and keyboardist, seemingly can do no wrong. This is, I think, the fifth or sixth recording
of his that I have reviewed and, once again, it's stunningly beautiful, expertly recorded, and showcases his apparently
boundless talent for composing in a wide variety of styles, from cheery acoustic-guitar driven new age/adult contemporary
("Red Guitars" which could be a Bruce BecVar track), to a more introspective Windham Hill-ish guitar-oriented soundscape
("Silent Nostalgia"), to an intense progressive fusion-like piece ("In The Hall of Mirrors). All of the songs on Blue Sky, Red
Guitars feature Wøllo's guitar playing
front and center (unlike his last recording for Groove Unltd., The Polar Drones ,which
contained a fair amount of his synth playing). While keyboards do play a part on this CD, they're used to add texture and
depth to the music, not to detract from the main attraction - the artist's dexterous and outstanding guitar-playing (either
solo or multi-tracked, on lead melody or lead and harmony). By the way "In The Hall of Mirrors" and another song on the
album, "Computerlove," are both covers of works originally recorded by Kraftwerk! How's that for displaying one's musical
courage and innovation?
Ambient music fans should be warned that the opening short track, "Morning Dew" is about as close as this CD gets to being ambient in sonic character. "Blue Sky" the
next song, is a fiery but dark number, with superb interplay between multi-tracked rhythm acoustic guitars and a sensual lead electric guitar, played in an ethereal and spacy style by Wøllo. The track builds up steam as it progresses and it has become one of my favorite songs from this artist. When the song hits its stride at around
the two minute mark, I sure wish I could be behind the wheel of a fast car, cruising through the desert southwest under a full moon; the music has a frenetic pace but is laced with a haunting beauty. The combination evoke the sensation of needing to get somewhere in a hurry, as if one is being pursued not by something dark and
scary but by the inevitability of time itself! Very cool image, that!
"Sedona" is another fantastic song, albeit a totally different mood than "Blue Sky." Here, the multi-tracked (left and rear
channels) are occupied by rhythm acoustic
guitars and the center channel houses the lead acoustic line. Wøllo plays with
delicate grace and yet surprising emotional depth and passion. "Destiny" begins
very slowly and quietly but soon blasts off with some of the artist's most fiery and
dexterous fingering, but again Wøllo laces the music with a darker shadowy
presence so that the music has a pleasant albeit palpable sense of tension. This
characteristic, while not exclusive to the
Norwegian artist, is one of his strongest
traits and he surely is one of the best in the business at melding dark with neutral
so that even while the listener taps his or her foot,
there is an undercurrent of
emotional complexity in his/her reaction.
Whether the somber delicate quasi-Spanish "Rain Tree," the reverberating massed
guitars of "Timeless" which all seem to
coalesce into one massed instrument,
dancing around the lone electric lead, or the minimal reflective beauty of "Silent
Nostalgia" (the least adorned track on the album, with either just one or two guitars discernible), Erik Wøllo delivers the
goods on yet another highly recommendable
album. He now joins an elite group of artists I have reviewed (e.g. Kevin
Richard Bone, Llewellyn, Clarelynn Rose) whom I can almost unquestionably state"Anything you buy from him/her is gonna be impressive." Is this Wøllo's best guitar-oriented album so far? Perhaps it is. Fans of the six-stringed instrument owe it to
themselves to buy this CD.
They are going to love it!
- Bill Binkelman
Erik Wollo’s latest release from Spotted Peccary Music is a warm and inviting
soundscape. Blue Sky, Red Guitars begins with a flowing intro entitled Morning Dew which frames the album’s themes in a brief two minute window:
evanescence and exploration. Melodies woven on a foundation of guitars, balalaika, mandolin and electric bass lead the listener through its
Listening to Blue Sky, Red Guitars one feels the joy of exploring new ground as
much as a déjà vu experience of being
bathed in rich, melodic sound from a source
far beyond this everyday ordinary world of noise pollution.
It is an outstanding
and when it’s over you’ll surely want to return to Wollo’s Blue Sky to see if an
experience so beautiful was really real or
just an evanescent dream.
- Phil Jefferson
E-dition Magazine (Holland):
The now 44 years old Erik is a professional musician since 1980 already. For a long time he has won his spurs in
various styles of music, including classical music, jazz and EM. He played with bands and ensembles and composed
music for the theatre, ballet, orchestra and naturally his “own” EM.
After a very spherical opening the first sounds of Erik's well-known acoustic guitar
follow. Over and above that he plays,
among others, bass, mandolin and E-bow. By using modern electronics Wøllo can support his guitar sounds with
synthesizers and subtle percussion. The music is very accessible, there are no droning rhythms and
no annoying computer
merely is beautiful, quiet almost New Age music with a cross-reference to General Melodic regularly, like on “Sedona”.
towards classical music for instance is “Red Guitars” , a track that could have been
found on one of
Steve Hackett 's classical albums also. Because most EM lovers
regard EM as “music by synthesizers”, Wøllo's music,
with its emphasis on the
acoustic guitar (I suggest you listen to “Silent Nostalgia” ), falls between two stools a bit.
Still, because of the many
similarities to the genres mentioned, I think this
release certainly deserves a review.
These compositions are pure and natural, composed with originality and well
thought out, not letting the computer do the
The appealing lovely
orchestrations with their “VST instruments” give the large scale of EM a whole new dimension.
Highly recommended for lovers of quiet acoustic guitar music.
- Menno von Brucken Fock
CD Universe (USA)
Norwegian composer Erik Wollo returns to the New Age guitar sound that made his GUITAR NOVA such a success, with this
follow-up to 2003's more ambient EMOTIONAL LANDSCAPE. Some of that album's glistening mystery lingers here (especially on the closing track, "Timeless"), but the guitars are back in full force. Tracks like "Blue Sky" and "Sedona" are steeped in
the vastness of the American Southwest, with gently echoing solos summoning the spirit of Native American flutes.
highlight is "Red Guitars," which creates an aural river of cascading acoustic energy. There's an Asian twist to the
Flamenco-style guitar on "Destiny," while Wollo's Norwegian sense of irony comes to the fore in all-acoustic covers of
Kraftwerk's "Computer Love" and "In the Hall of Mirrors."
Other nice touches include the bouncing percussion of "Moving" and "Rain Tree"'s ominous clouds of swirling guitar arpeggios. Whether for meditation, massage, or deep headphone voyaging,
this is an album that gently parts the mist of time to reveal the lovely, endless vistas within.
e/i magazine (USA):
Long before he mastered the kind of icy Nordic electro-keyboard ambience
featured on works like Traces and Images of
light, Norwegian composer Erik Wøllo
earned his keep playing guitar in various jazz groups around Oslo with the
Øystein Sevåg. After years of producing primarily keyboard-based works, Wøllo brought his guitar skills back to the forefront
with 1998’s Guitar Nova, driven primarily by 6 and 12 string acoustics, along with the odd ethnic stringed instrument here and there. Blue Sky, Red Guitars follows in a similar vein, albeit with a tad more electronic seasoning. If you’re looking for
fretboard pyrotechnics, you won’t find them here. Wøllo is clearly a talented guitarist, but all of the layers of guitar have been laid down in service of atmosphere and melody; here Wøllo proves to be every bit as adept in creating them with stringed
instruments as he has been with keyboards. The music on Blue Sky, Red Guitars was, according to Wøllo, influenced by his
travels in the North American Southwest. Thankfully, that doesn’t manifest in the sort of godawful faux-American Indian tribal nonsense produced by so many well-intentioned artists who claim similar inspiration. Instead, musical comparisons that
come to mind more readily include the acoustic soundtrack work of Mark Knopfler
(Cal, The Princess Bride,) Peter Maunu’s
Warm Sound in a Grey Field,
the quieter moments from any number of Acoustic Alchemy and Al Dimeola tracks,
the “echo-guitar” techniques of Achim Reichel. The influence of Wøllo’s
own keyboard composition techniques can be heard,
as well, in the percolating
background rhythms assembled with multitracked guitar as opposed to synths.
compositions include the title tracks “Blue Sky” and “Red Guitars,”
and the brief but inspiringly quiet and beautiful “Rain
the biggest revelation here is the amazing guitar reworking of Kraftwerk’s “Computer Love” (another
Kraftwerk composition, “In the Hall of Mirrors”
also gets the acoustic treatment). What sounds like a really bad idea on
paper proves to be pure genius instead. It will immediately become your
favorite version—trust me.