For Norwegian musician Erik Wøllo, Guitar Nova is a return to his roots. Best known for electronic landscapes on albums such as Solstice and Images of Light, Wøllo actually generates most of his music with a guitar synthesizer. For Guitar Nova,
however, he returns to pure, mostly acoustic guitar in an intricate, delicately balanced set of compositions. But it's not just
another solo guitar album. Wøllo multitracks his instruments in elaborate designs that have the same evocative power of his more lushly orchestrated synthesizer works. Wøllo's melodies ring with an open-air purity, whether fingerpicking a 6-string,
strumming a 12-string, or bringing in a laconic slide as he does on "Rainbows." From the moody undertow of "Source" to the interwoven minimalism of "Hildring," Wøllo creates a crystalline country music, like Ry Coder at the edge of the galaxy.
- John Diliberto
«Nightlight» (www.kuac.org). (Public Radio, Alaska):
Don't let the title mislead you, this is wonderful music..
When I first got a copy of this cd, "Guitar Nova", I thought, "yawn,
another flamenco-flavored guitar CD where the guy will play too many notes way too fast." This is NOT at all what this album is about. The music is sublte, diverse, sparse and full in places, and very interesting to listen to. I would classify Erik Wøllo
up there somewhere with Michael Hedges, Alex di Grassi, Scott Huckabay, Tony Levin and Dallas Gordon. But the Mr. Wøllo's style is not a copy of anyone else's. This may be due, in part, to the Norwegian roots.
Wøllo uses a variety of stringed instruments including acoustic 6 and 12 string guitars, fretless guitar, slide, balalaika, kora, and acoustic bass guitar. The tracks are not spare, single instrument outings, but include a rich feel on each. The samples
you get here are short, so you can't get the full flavor of some of the tunes. Try these for a feel of the album's diversity: the first track (Blue Mountain) is rather traditional guitar, and very quiet; track three (Road) picks up the speed early on, so you can get a feel for the intricacy of the stylings; track 6 (Source) has a more electric feel: track 10 (Hjallepallo) starts with
some nice harmonics. All in all, a very musically satisfying and fulfilling CD. Thanks again Spotted Peccary Music!
- Aurora Lyn
While "guitar" plus "nova" may imply a cosmic explosion of six-stringed pyrotechnics, Erik Wøllo's guitar nova instead offers the pleasurably slow-burning radiance of nimble fingering and serene acoustic moods. Shifting away from Spotted Peccary's traditional focus on specifically North American sounds, these intricately layered Norwegian guitar melodies mark the first
excursion on the label's new Wanderings offshoot.
Short and sweet, Blue Mountain (2:12) rises on soft strands plucked with pensive resolution. Similarly low-though-spirited
Summer Tomorrow dances between strummed phrases and adroitly picked stringwork. Sliding strands extend like a series of wavering Rainbows (5:43), accompanied by a lovely latticework of notes and percussive clunks.
Basking in silvers and golds, The Eagle hovers in flight which seems to rise and fall over some verdant valley.
Bass pulsations and a dreamy aura emerge from Source as do a pluck-y rhythm and elastic tonal bands.
Fantasia's cross-threaded background patterns are overlain with chimingly fluid doublets and Spanish-flavored meanderings. With a lightness in its lilt, Hjallepallo struts and twirls over a persistently chugging strum-rhythm. Carefully placed pluckings
part to reveal the subtly droning darkness which swelters beneath a Secret Place. 12
The unassuming acoustic beauty of Guitar Nova smolders with aromatic fragrances and illuminates 14 scenes of idyllic
peacefulness. Erik Wøllo's six-stringed magic lulls as well as excites, particularly if one isn't averse to such truly musical
undertakings. An 8.4 for loveliness and warmth which can provide a perfect blanket against winter's chill.
- David J Opdyke (8,4)
Alternate Music Press, (USA):
Spotted Peccary Music begins a new chapter with the release of GUITAR NOVA by Norwegian composer Erik Wøllo; the first
release on the new label extension, Wanderings,expands the Spotted Peccary catalog to include superb and visionary works that are derived from outside of North America.
Erik Wøllo, one of Norway's foremost composers, has created an exquisite album which should be numbered among this
year's best. The motion of this music is drifting and cloud-like, often circling around a single motif, a minimalist guitar
meditation on a few notes or even one or two chord changes; in this it is similar to the work of Forrest Fang, and the acoustic pastoral guitar works by Pat Metheny.
The music of Erik Wøllo embodies a Zen-like economy, focusing on a purity of tone, clarity of harmony, and counterpoint to
achieve a tender lyricism. Wollo's acoustic steel-string and classical guitars predominate, but he also applies discreet
overdubs (including some delicate frettless guitar,slide, balalaika,kora, and acoustic bass) to sculpt orchestral detail. All
songs are written and performed by Wøllo with one exception, ...the acoustic guitar solo on "Fantasia" is performed by Jon
Each piece on the album dissolves into a magical shimmer that glows and fades at just the right moments. Wøllo has
constructed this album beautifully, ...the succession of pieces creating moods which form a kind of ambient narrative leading from gentle pastoral pieces to inspired anthems, from sadness to hope. He has an amazing capacity to develop wondrous
musical landscapes which the listener uses to better understand the human condition. His passion runs throughout every
piece he plays and his versatility is just icing on the cake. In Erik's own words, "When I am making music, I am breaking the silence; and if the music is good it will connect directly to the heart with more clarity than the spoken word or a picture on a
wall." Acoustic and electric instruments, and samples of older primitive instruments mingle with contemporary, electronic
atmospheres, to create a thematic foundation that is both ancient and modern.
These tracks reflects a musical experience that covers a wide range of styles. It's in an idiom all its own, mixing the open
harmonies of rural European music with some minimalist phrases, resulting in the melodic inventiveness of jazz with the
acoustic virtuosity of John Fahey. At times, the music has the feel of a universal campfire, with phrases that can bend from
Appalachian folk picking to jazz, to ambient music, with gently phrased melodies soaring over acoustic rhythm and subdued
ambient tones. The overall effect of this consort may be soothing, but like all of Wøllo's work, the details are there to keep
the interest level high.
The whole album flows together seamlessly. This album proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Erik is a master at creating gorgeous and lyrical songscapes. It is deeply thematic, that's true, but I feel that Wollo's use of the themes was quite
creative. I found it very peaceful for the most part to listen to the fourteen songs on Guitar Nova, but at the same time some of the complexity he developed was really profound. Highly recommended.
- Ben Kettlewell
Barnes & Noble, (USA):
Contrary to the implication of its title, Guitar Nova hardly sits within the nouveau flamenco niche. The unique, rhythmically
charged music of Norwegian guitarist Erik Wøllo is as pristine as airborne crystals, using a cornucopia of strings from fretless, slide, and 12- and 6-string guitars to acoustic bass, balalaika, and kora harp. Wøllo's technique covers a wide range of
voices, too, from pinprick twanging to deep thumping, with many of the passages electronically altered and overdubbed; his careful picking lets every note have its own life and impact. The album begins simply enough, with a lovely melody on
"Summer Tomorrow" that could have been penned by that other great Erik -- Satie. The lively "Road" mimics the rolling
patter of tires chewing up the pavement; while the bass hums like the satisfying sound of a well-tuned engine. "Source"
begins with a buildup of mournful wails; the layers of melody are then swept up into an ever-growing rhythm machine driven by pulsing bass pistons. "Hildring" is a delirious round that spins off rhythmic cycles like fractal patterns. Abounding with
good-humored spirit yet sophisticated enough to be a challenge, Guitar Nova stands up after many listens.
- Carol Wright
Quietmusic, (top ten) USA:
One of the best acoustic guitar records I've ever heard. Norwegian Erik Wollo's 14-song collection is filled with imaginative
melodies, haunting and charming textures, and well-crafted performances. Wollo plays a wide variety of guitars and stringed instruments, and mixes them effortlessly; it's a well-produced CD. This is a disc that takes you into a wide variety of mood
places, from the dark and melancholy, to the light & carefree. Highly recommended.
- Nick Francis
NEW AGE RETAILER, (USA):
Since its inception, Spotted Peccary Music has consistently been one of the most innovative labels around. Guitar Nova,
Norwegian guitarist Erik Wøllo's latest release, marks the debut of Wanderings, Spotted Peccary's label extension.
Wanderings will feature outstanding visionary music from outside of North America. Wøllo is considered one of Norway's
premier composers, and the heartfelt beauty of Guitar Nova certainly illustrates this.
Wøllo plays six- and 12-string acoustic guitars, fretless guitar, acoustic bass guitar, slide, balalaika, and kora. Wøllo's
compositions have a quiet passion reminiscent of Will Ackerman or Alex de Grassi, though his sound is all his own. The
tracks on Guitar Nova seem to leap straight from Wøllo's heart to his fingers, offering music with both warmth and extreme
technical skill. He layers his sound, creating melodic rhythms and textures that are unique and compelling.
It's so good that it stands up to repeated listenings. For acoustic guitar music that's about as good as it gets,
check out Guitar Nova!
- Steve Ryals
Amazing Sounds, (Spain):
Erik Wollo has composed a fine work that can be labelled within the New Instrumental Music for guitar. The 14 compositions included in this album by him have a symphonic melodic character, with romantic parts and other mysterious ones. There
also appear classical and Ambient elements. The music is not static, but it flows at a medium speed. The rhythmic structure is based on the guitar and harbors the melody within itself. The music is pleasant to listen to and will no doubt appeal to
those who enjoy the guitar as a soloist instrument. In my opinion, "Source" is the most imaginative theme.
- PASCUAL JURADO
Wind and Wire, (USA):
Erik Wollo's latest album, released on Spotted Peccary, will shock anyone who regularly buys recordings from the label. Guitar Nova is an homage to all manner of guitars: acoustic, slide, acoustic bass, and even includes some balalaika. But, surprise,
there are no synths! So, if you're expecting a traditional ambient release, you can forget it. What you'll hear instead is one
of the more varied and expertly-crafted "solo" (although not really since he overdubs his own playing) guitar albums of the
last few years. I must have played it at least twelve times before finally writing this review. The plaintive feel of the music,
even when it was uptempo, conformed effortlessly to my mood, whatever it was at the time - sad, neutral, reflective, or even cheery. In that respect, Guitar Nova is an ambient release, by my way of thinking, since it operates on an unconscious level
to some degree.
On the other hand, if you never actually listen to the album, you can't appreciate both the artistry of Erik's playing and the
superb engineering of the disc (it was recorded in Erik's native Norway). And missing these songs would be a mistake.
Opening with the somber "Blue Mountain," Erik's playing is evocative and filled with perfectly restrained passion - no boring
overblown histrionics here! Other favorite cuts of mine include the breezy "Summer Tomorrow," the lovely "The Eagle," (which reminded me of Ralf Illenberger), the uptempo yet mysterious "Source," the rollicking (yet not overly "sunny") "Cross
Country," and the Michael Hedges-like "Hjallepallo." But picking favorite songs is somewhat pointless on my part, because I love the entire album and, truthfully, I never hit the "skip" button on the CD player once.
The only cautionary note I'd bring up on this album is to fans of the more sedate and tone-poem-like guitarists, such as
Will Ackerman or others like him. You may find some of the music on this release a bit tuneful for your tastes. While there
are minimal strains at places, most of what's here is more accessible and tuneful than anything from the more
impressionistic guitar players. If you enjoy the melodic style of players like the aforementioned Illenberger or even Jamie
Bonk, and you don't mind the lack of accompanying instruments (although on some songs, like "Secret Place," it sure sound like there's a synth buried in there somewhere), Guitar Nova should be a hit with you. Erik Wollo is an immensely talented
musician. Unless you need something more pop-sounding or adult contemporary in nature, this CD is chock full of great
acoustic guitar instrumentals. So, I won't even try to figure out what it's doing on Spotted Peccary.
I'm just glad I got to hear it. Recommended!
- Bill Binkelman
Sonic Immersion (Holland):
"Guitar Nova" came out in the middle of October 2000 and is the first release of the Norwegian musician Erik Wollo on
Spotted Peccary’s sublabel Wanderings. As the albums title suggests, the music on this cd isn’t that electronic, but still very
well executed. All tracks on this album sound fresh and inspired, especially my personal favourite "Hildring".
"Guitar Nova" encompasses 14 introspective, varied guitar pieces reflecting lots of emotion and creating a smooth and
engaging atmosphere. This music certainly deserves my thumb up!
- Bert Strolenberg
NORWEGIAN REVIEWS, "Guitar Nova":
DAGBLADET/PULS: Wøllo er en melodiker av de skjeldne. Han er også en usedvanlig begava instrumentalist og
stemningsskaper. Man kan gå inn hvor som helst på de 14 sporene og bli tatt med til steder man aldri har vært før - dette er spennende musikk fra start til mål. Vi snakker her om musikk og en musikant av den aller øverste klasse.
AUDIO: et knippe melodier som hver for seg holder mål og som er framført med fremragende teknikk. Lydmessig er platen
også en godbit, lydbildene er store med massevis av detaljer rundt streng og anslag. Virkelig noe å fordype seg i!
OPPLAND ARBEIDERBLAD: Gitarverk av rang! Tilsammen gjør dette "Guitar Nova" til et overmåte stemningsfullt og
spennende verk som fortjener appell langt utover rekkene av "gitarfreaks".
EXACT: ...et lydbilde som er svært varierende og spennende. ....Wøllo er blant våre ypperste gitarister...
INSIDE: ...etter en gjennomhøring var jeg allerede temmelig imponert.....dette er et glimrende album!
NORDLYS: Den virker befriende naturlig, og stemningsmessig har dette mer gehalt og orginalitet enn de fleste av hans
FREDRIKSTAD BLAD: Lettere tilgjengelig Erik Wøllo. Denne platen preges av det vakre og melodiøse. Naturen møter