Klem Magazine (The Netherlands):
Emotional Landscapes is Erik's 3rd cd for SP's-sublabel Wanderings, and again its a stunning one. In the first few minutes
you remember the overall impact of his former awesome album "Wind Journey", also on SP. Hearing the beauty of these
new serene soundtextures makes clear that a lot of personal feelings were involved as the longstretched serene synth-tapetries unfold bit by bit. The melancholic impact of this recording is startling, these are strong visionary landscapes for the mind, masterfully built by e-guitar, synths, bas and percussion. There's some beautiful introspective cello on tracks 5
(the only track were things get more powerful and more rhythmic) and 9 by talented guestmusician Liv Frengstad, even more increasing emotional atmosphere. The closing track Echo of Night/Cadence really makes you drifts into eternity ..
This album is an absolute winner, holding something for everyone into expansive ambient music.
- Bert Strolenberg
WIND and WIRE (USA):
Richly evocative and genuinely moving throughout its eleven tracks, Emotional Landscapes is one of the best albums yet
from Norwegian guitarist/keyboardist Erik Wollo. These are somber sonic portraits, even when the music is livelier and more rhythmic. This does not mean that the songs are not beautiful, though - in fact, just the opposite. The lonely
peals and despairing cries of electric guitar, set against a backdrop of soft synthesizer underpinnings and looped other
electric guitars on "Metaphor" are quite "pretty", even while the music elicits feelings of regret and sadness (especially potent is the folding in of piano later in the track).
Some songs on the album are out-and-out guitar pieces, albeit still thoroughly ambient in nature from a musical standpoint, while other selections display Wollos equally impressive synthesizer and guitar-synthesizer talents (such as the lovely
"Prism", which shimmers and glistens amidst all manner of electronics). Most of the music on Emotional
Landscapes is delicate and refined (or at least subdued), but sometimes Wollo brings passion and drama to the forefront,
such as on the eight-minute long "Sounds of the Seen, Part I". The track begins in low-key fashion, with guest artist Liv
Frengstads solid work on cello supported by a soft liquid undertone of synths. As the piece slowly unfolds, Wollo dials up the intensity with the addition of cascading keyboards and a more dramatic repeat of the cello lead lines. A train-like forward
momentum emerges at the three-minute mark that soon propels the track into a high energy mixture of chugging rhythms and mild dissonance, all led by a seamless blend of assorted electronics. This all dissolves into a field recording of a mass
of people walking and talking (according to the liner notes, this was recorded under the World Trade Center scant days
before the September 11 attack.
Some of the guitar work on the CD is slightly reminiscent of Jeff Pearce, such as on "Valley" with its reverberating notes and sense of deep spaciousness. "Virtual World", which opens with a series of synthesized hushes and morphs into a gently
loping rhythmic piece interwoven with eerie yet quite pretty synth guitar melodies, might bring Patrick O'Hearn to mind with
its blend of chugging rhythms and bold yet accessible electronics.
I don't know why the music on Emotional Landscapes affects me as deeply as it does, but it does. It's not sad the way Tim Story's music is; it's more indirect than that. Since some of the music is rhythmic and even uptempo (at times), it's difficult to articulate why the CD leaves me feeling lonely and despairing, yet also strangely fulfilled. Thankfully, for me at least, the last several songs end the album on a more positive note. Maybe not optimistic, but at least resigned to the nagging feeling of regret and lost memories. "Satellite" opens with a series of serene Jon Mark-like keyboards floating effortlessly before
Wollo's guitars once again paint in musical colors of deep blue and violet. The closing song, "Echo of Night/Cadence" ends
the CD on a somewhat cheery note - playful in its casual rhythms, the track sounds like perfect music as one drives away
from where one has revisited the past. We are glad to be returning to what we are now, even though the visitation of our
previous selves was revelatory and healing.
Lovers of richly textured ambient guitar music can thank their gods that Spotted Peccary has added Erik Wollo to their label so that his particular brand of creative guitar music is more readily available to us in the States. Goodness knows that we can use music this beautiful, now more than ever. Emotional Landscapes is in the running for one of my favorite releases of
2003. It is deeply personal music, brimming with humanity. It resonates with the sadder tints of our emotional palette of
colors; listening to it is almost cathartic in intensity. I highly recommend this album.
- Bill Binkelman
Backroads Music (USA):
Emotional Landscapes - A near perfect recording that combines intense and serene passages with masterful performances
and another successful attempt by Spotted Peccary to expand the sound barriers. This CD will, in my estimation, appeal to
every single fan of ambient, electro-acoustic, space and contemporary music. These profound, carefully constructed
compositions offer insightful interpretations of the visual and tangible as a metaphor for the internal esoteric landscapes of
the imagination. Other than cello on tracks, all music is by Wollo, with Guitars (his first love), guitar synthesizers, keyboards, electric bass, percussion and programming all falling into his amazingly capable hands. He ties together his entire career on this CD, even reaching back to excerpts and samples from the mid-'80's as starting points for new pieces. The range of
feelings that spread across the eleven tracks shows the accuracy of the album title. As a cohesive whole, this CD finds the
delicate connection between physical environments and landscapes of the soul. Looks like this is already occupying the Best of 2003 position, and it has just turned into April!- Lloyd Barde
Amazon.com, editorial reviews (USA):
The title is underwhelming, but the music is an ecstatic journey traversing aurora borealis spacescapes and quiet ambient
moods. Erik Wollo is a Norwegian guitarist and synthesist out of the Mike Oldfield tradition, building a 21st century orchestra layering acoustic, electric, and synthesized guitars. A musician with a delicate touch, Wollo sometimes builds quiet lines out
of violin-like sustains that echo in space soliloquies. While his rhythms rarely get above a slow-chill, Wollo's solos often burn with a dark intensity. Tracks like "Second Totem" have a quiet heroism about them, the sound of impending adventure.
"Sounds of the Seen, Pt.1," one of the more dynamic tracks, begins as a haunting adagio for cello, before launching into a
crushing electronica assault that ends in the sound of humanity moving, with location recordings Wollo made under the World Trade Center a few days prior to 9-11. It's a dose of grounding reality in a music that seems to constantly hover just above the firmament, rooted in imagination. -John Diliberto
Gently arcing guitar tendrils stream across the floating chimes of In The Picture (2:50), to open on a sedate prettiness.
More-ominously hovering Metaphor broods appealingly, releasing muted string sparkles and occasional flute swirls across its panoramic contours... nice! Laced with minuscule clicks and bubbles, liquid dronecurrents refract through Prism, diffusing
into a steady glow.
A suite of sweet strings and synths, Sounds of the Seen, Part 1 (8:06) is imbued with ethereal melancholy, giving way to
more-energetic rhythmic pulses (includes a buried slur of human activities recorded at the World Trade Center in late August 01). Guitar strums seems to scatter in hazily fragmented puffs across Valley's airy (if not so wide) void. Emerging from a
cloak of steam, Virtual World emits a relatively lively bassline and warm coppery sheens which are injected by a rhythm of
Satellite orbits an enchanting space where light tones dance in a spiral of darkness. Rather "straight" musicality floats on the twinkling chimes and strings of Echo of Night/Cadence, after which several minutes of silence lead to a "secret" track
(approximately 10 minutes) of phantasmally lovely waves.
New-age-ish styles/sounds are given a more-ambiguous makeover as Erik Wøllo reimagines his emotional landscapes with
less-definable shapes and colors. The touches of indefinable esoterica add extra allure to the already-pretty soundforms. B+
2003. (c) David J Opdyke / AmbiEntrance
Amazing Sounds (Spain):
Once again displaying his considerable skills to create impressive orchestrations,
Erik Wollo presents us with a work full of color and multiple shades. The themes have a strong melodic component, and flow from New Instrumental Music to the most symphonic side of Ambient, exhibit complex rhythms of a varied dynamic structure, and soar in space elements, all this with the unmistakable style of this artist.
- EDGAR KOGLER
Ambient Visions (USA):
Erik Wollo has established himself as one of the premier multi-instrumentalists performing ambient music today. His sound is uniquely identifiable; Emotional Landscapes exists on my iPod with some 1,900 other songs, which I play in random
rotation. Whenever a Wollo piece begins, it is instantly recognizable. I am not alone in my opinion that Emotional
Landscapes is a tour de force. Amazon.com, Backroads Music, and Wind and Wire have all given this album rave reviews.
Small wonder: Wollo's music reflects the austere, reflective nature of his Nordic heritage. His soundscapes are tapestries that evoke the stark, silent arctic nights, providing lush introspective escapes. One can almost feel the sense of drifting in an
open boat under the crystal clear northern sky.
Music From the Hearts of Space, the radio program that has aired since the 1980's, has featured Wollo a number of times.
His sometimes-stark, powerfully stirring pieces are perfect for those times when one just wants to sink into the flow of the
moment. Wollo has the enviable talent of melding separate pieces of varying tenor and timbre into an album that is a
cohesive whole. In this day of the "downloadable single," this talent is to be respected and honored. Emotional Landscapes
satisfies at both the album level and at the single track level. Personally, I prefer to listen to this one from start to finish.
I do have personal favorites. Sounds of the seen, Part I, the fifth track on the CD adds the melancholy, sometimes insistent thrum of cello. As an interesting side note, a portion of this piece was recorded under the World Trade Center in New York,
shortly before September 11, 2001. This track too, was recently featured on Hearts of Space. Echo Of Night/Cadence, the
final track, is a resplendent example of ambient music that is moving, inventive, introspective, and oh-so-enjoyable.
There are many songs currently occupying space on my iPod. Emotional Landscapes by Erik Wollo has
permanent residence there!
- Fred Puhan
Something Instrumental Magazine (Canada):
Erik Wollo takes completely tangible guitar and electronics right to the very edge of the visible horizon and then accelerates
the beauty and imagery straight back at ya in ways that defy common sense.
With Emotioanl Landscape, Erik invites us to an alternative world where passport control is governed by purity of heart and soul legislation.
The music that enables this phenomenon is explicitly rich and dynamic, masterfully created and sensuously performed with
the kind of passion for ancient and contemporary inspirations that ears adore.
Effects inserts are very cleverly positioned and perfectly consistent with the general thematics. I love the musicianship that's endorsed from within the first few moments of each of the 11 'items on the agenda'.
My absolute favourites are Metaphor, Prism, Sound of the seen, and Echo of night absolute masterpieces really and enough of a reason in themselves to get out there and add this album to your collection!
- Elley Wilson
Synth and Sequences (France):
With its fine melodies which roam into ambiences slightly filled by with a poetic mysticism, "Emotional Landscapes" is, in my opinion, the best way to tame Erik Wøllo's soft universe. Sat well on his Scandinavian souvenirs, the nomad with a dreamy
guitar presents a beautiful musical canvas with 11 titles which are exchanging their boreal moods on rhythms and melodies
which sometimes capsize and entails us into tribal atmospheres of a world unique to the vision of its author.
"In the Picture" debauche Wøllo's 12th opus with a smooth meditative melody where the floating sighs of a solitary guitar are wrapping the soft melodic approach of a piano in spheroidal notes which wave as a carousel of mist. "Metaphor" espouses
the same musical pattern of strangeness and mysticism, with a grimed ambience where notes of guitars weave a somber
minimalist melody from which the rotatory bends are tortured by strata and scattered solos from a morphic guitar.
Thetempo grows heavy but remains slow, cloistering itself in an intense eerie mood. "Prism" is an ambient track flowing on
a river of chords which teems in an attractive harmonious contradiction that fluty winds caress of tribal breaths.
"Second Totem" rolls on a beautiful ballad where the guitar draws a discreet melodious line which is assailed by another
guitar in more incisive solos. The rhythm livens up. And for the first time on "Emotional Landscapes" our feet are wriggling
on a rhythm always delicate but livelier that layers of violin and absent choirs decorate with a soft floating touch. Groans of
violins floating in mystic mists open the very beautiful "Sounds of the Seen, Part I". A fine series of twinkling arpeggios
draws a cosmic ballet which goes astray in the tears of these Stradivarius while the title dives little by little into an emotional disorder with riffs which pound under the hybrid caresses of arpeggios and violins. The rhythm becomes then spasmodic.
It quivers abruptly, blowing its pace into brief uncertain passages to start again with an odd dance of electronic folk which
suits so well to the approaches of the Bohemian Scandinavian.
After an escapade into some ambient and contemplative lands in "Valley" and its wails from a lonely guitar, "Virtual World"
offers a soft rhythm fed of a plentiful faun of percussions. It is a brisk rhythm which scatters its pace and which undulates
under the caresses of a bass of which the hypnotic cooings sing in the winds of a synth to harmonious breaths and the
discreet airs of a guitar with melodic notes.
It may take some listening but one eventually succumbed to the strange charm of "Mountain Beach", by far the most
audacious title on "Emotional Landscapes". Without precise rhythm it flows on a lineal movement robbed by percussions
which sound like huge holocaustic locusts whose din gets lost in the loops and riffs of a guitar which does not lost time to
also drop a soft harmony which clashes in this abstract setting. More ambient and more atmospheric, "Sounds of the Seen, Part II" is a good complement to its first part with its violin which cries on the echo of a prism of an autumnal nature.
Other ambient and meditative title, "Satellite" scatters its notes of a dreamy guitar into some intersidereal winds while
"Echo of Night / Cadence" concludes on a soft floating rhythm with hatched synth pads which serve as pattern to a beautiful
melodious approach, weaved into the dreams and memories as much poetic as harmonious of Erik Wøllo. And if we remain
patient, we can hear a last atmospheric breath with "Cadence" which is without life nor rhythm, but rich in atmosphere and
tones of a land that even the dreams can nott draw.
Melodious, soft and attractive! Such is the musical universe that "Emotional Landscapes" offers to our ears. By flirting with an esotericism in the divinities as dark as metamaphoric, Erik Wøllo shapes his minimalist structures with an eye for detail which harpoons immediately our awakening.
It is different certainly, but it is doubtless the most beautiful contemplative music that I heard.
Sylvain Lupari (September 6th, 2012)