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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Erik Wollo & Byron Metcalf: Earth Luminous (2016)

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Earth Luminous is a splendid album which blends to perfection the visions of 2 artists whom styles and music are not so far away, if we think of it

1 Days of Magic 8:49 2 Light and Ground 7:57 3 Far Wandered 8:35 4 Valley of Spheres 8:27 5 Distant Future 7:52 6 Diomedea 8:47 7 Earth Luminous 7:26 8 Linked Stars 5:21 Projekt | PRO328

(CD/DDL 63:17) (V.F.) (Tribal EM, soft and hypnotic beats)

Byron Metcalf and Erik Wollo are two iconic figures of an EM which sculptures an lyrical tribal vision but in two fundamentally different approaches. If the one is a percussionist without equal with a propensity for rhythms of the fires of the Earth, the other one is more a sonic nomad who likes lugging around his panoramas of ice through a beautiful fusion of synth/guitar on electronic rhythms weaved in sequences sometimes peaceful and other times charmingly rebels. Both have a point in common; the eerie atmospheres with shiny strata which wind the drumming of the percussions or the soft flux of sequences. Thus, we are entitled to hope for an album which was going to link two universes of which the distances will gather into an at least particular symbiosis. Well chase away the doubts! EARTH LUMINOUS exceeds the highest expectations with a strong album where the permutations of the rhythms, sometimes tribal, ambient or of fire, forged by the percussions and the sequences reach a top that I still haven't heard to date in the genre. It's the kind of thing that is a total surprise. And who doesn't like to be surprised?

Days of Magic begins this enchanting adventure by a soft ambient approach where Byron Metcalf proposes delicate beatings which are of use as rampart to a beautiful fusion of tears and laments coming from this unique approach of Erik Wollo on synth and guitar. Some seraphic murmurs accompany this soft astral journey which is slightly shaken at times by more noisy percussions. The rhythm is as soft as these desert ballads so well drawn by Steve Roach in Western Spaces. It starts things well and we are in the well-known grounds of Wollo here, even if the percussions are more presents. Light and Ground sets the tone with a more powerful and a steadier rhythm with gurgling percussions which skip in symbiosis with the soft reflection of a rivulet of suspended sequences. Other percussions are joining this first dance, weaving a soft torrent of tom-toms and organic effects that Wollo covers of a shroud of serenity. Here, the percussions lay down the law. They shape a delicate trance for admirers of the earth that the Norwegian bard decorates with ethereal layers and riffs which crumble their passivity and roll in discreet loops on a structure of minimalist rhythm that Byron Metcalf adorns of tribal percussions. Far Wandered proposes a more electronic approach with a line of sequences which makes its chords skip in loops into effects of percussions rattlers. The adventure begins to be inviting to dance. Percussions are constantly grafted, weaving this improbable link between EM and tribal Amerindian while the electronic rhythm transposes subtly into a more acoustic one. Sequences get more smothered and limper in the background of the percussions which thunder a rhythm of spiritual trance and drum under a thick cloud of spectral waves to the opalescent lamentations. Valley of Spheres proposes an approach as much meditative as in Days of Magic but with more dynamism in the rhythm. A rhythm which increases its pace in a meshing of beautiful, and a little bit grave, sequences and with percussions which amplify an approach a little more dramatic. The title sinks into a state of hypnosis which diverts slightly our attention from the layers of an electric six-strings from which the tears of steel add a touch of mysticism to Valley of Spheres. A dimension which also decorates the introduction of Distant Future which is also a meditative title but with an envelope richer in percussions and especially in electronic effects creators of mysterious atmospheres. Tom-toms resound and make shade to others deafer. These latter bewitch the senses! But not as much as these dense and threatening ethereal layers of which the effects of jerks propel a dominant aerial rhythm. Even if Days of Magic does not give its place, Diomedea is the most enchanting and the most wrapping title in EARTH LUMINOUS. Its opening floods our ears with layers which undulate like these spots parading in a speeded-up in the sky. Tom-toms bang slowly at far off before bursting with a symmetric flood which exchanges its fury for a sequencing pattern. The title-track is on the other hand the most intense. Its introduction is carried to our ears by ambient riffs of a guitar which roll in loops on a fury of spectral waves loaded of metallic hootings. A beautiful line of sequences makes its keys waddle which are harpooned by a series of 4 tom-toms which parade in single file, leaving even no room to a fraction of a second of emptiness. The fury comes as much from the huge purplish-blue layers as from the tom-toms which cover the soft hypnotic flux of sequences. And while the rattlers invade the atmospheres, the ambient harmonies change of forms and of tones, increasing even more the intensity of Earth Luminous of which the violence in tones clear the dust of our walls. An excellent title! Our ears? The want more! Linked Stars concludes EARTH LUMINOUS with a very ambient approach where Erik Wollo spreads his multi layers of synth and guitar which sculpture skillfully the coldness of the Norwegian glaciers.

It's a moment of atmospheres which belongs to the repertoire of Wollo and the finale finds refugee in big caves of ice, hibernating until the next opus, that I wish soon, of this improbable duet which will seduce literally the fans of an EM grandeur nature where the percussions show that they can very well serve the cause of ambient music. A superb album!

Sylvain Lupari (July 12th, 2016) ****½*

Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp

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