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  • Writer's pictureSylvain Lupari

Erik Wollo Silent Currents (2011)

Updated: Sep 20, 2022

Two CD of live performances which show the 2 sides of Erik Wollo at the dawn of his career

1) Silent Currents CD 1: Live At Star's End April 27th, 2002 Part I to XII (52:28)

2) Silent Currents CD 2: Live At Star's End October 28th, 2007 Part I to XIV (51:43)

(CD/DDL 104:11) (V.F.)

(Ambient & Berlin School)

How I love Erik Wollo's music! I got to know this very good Norwegian guitarist through his collaborations with Steve Roach and his Gateway album. He is an avant-gardist guitarist who succeeds in doing with his guitar what synthesists do with their synths. Either modulate layers and effects that he joins to his own solos and harmonies. He thus succeeds in harmonizing his guitar layers with those of the synths and sequenced impulses of Steve Roach, as well as Ian Boddy. In addition to adapting to the tribal harmonies of Deborah Martin and the very experimental music of Bernhard Wöstheinrich.

On SILENT CURRENTS, he offers 2 live recordings given in 2002 and 2007 on the radio waves of Chuck Van Zyl's cult EM show: Star's End. Two concerts lasting an average of 52 minutes, divided into nearly 26 segments. Performances with bewitching musical textures which depicts the dexterity, both on the guitars and on the synths of this brilliant musician where maturity and ingenuity can be heard on this nice 2 CD box set where 7 years separate the 2 concerts. Recorded during the broadcast of April 27, 2002, Silent Currents 1 begins its long musical journey with a fine linear movement from which emerge subtle riffs which are linked in delicate loops under a sky sifted by layers of a fusion synth/guitar. The smell is metallic and the beginning of the movement is gently ambient with delicate modulations tinged of heterogeneous sound effects emerging from the Arizonian caves. They are surrounded by spectral guitar layers which float under fine reverberations and which intersect among the oblong morphic pulsations, while Silent Currents 1 embraces its first rhythm sequences around the 17th minute. It's a delicate sequenced movement with chords skipping alternately, whereas emerge the languid lamentations of a melancholic six-strings. A guitar guiding us towards a shimmering movement with chords which gently brush the surface of the tranquility under the ghostly effect of the undulating and sinuous streaks of guitar. Silent Currents 1 becomes darker and heavier. Part 7 floats in an abyssal heaviness with quivering lines which undulate in a heavy metallic ambience before ending in a limpid movement where crystalline chords and delicate synth solos dance in a cosmic spiral. A nice melodic moment before the pulsations of Part 9 skip in a jerky movement, plunging us into a fusion of tribal universes and immense panoramas of Steve Roach. It's a tasty eclectic universe surrounded by metallic hoops which collide and whose shards juggle in the shade of the synth layers and its choir as discreet as the guitar chords. This bubbling dark passage deviates towards the oneiric sweetness of Part 10 and its soft layers of guitars which howl with tenderness in a solitary desert before transforming into heavy layers which slide on a very good linear movement. The first percussions are heard on Part 11. They resonate on a sinuous metallic line with growing verdigris to finally embrace the soporific sweetness of Part 12 and its synth with angelic layers, ringing the hour of the fisted sleep and eyes closed.

A long breath shatters its glass sounds to draw a jerky line whose echo is melting with heavy reverberations and melodious muffled voices. Recorded during the broadcast of October 28, 2007, Silent Currents 2 opens this concert with more emotion, especially because of the warm synth-guitar breaths that weave through scintillating arpeggios and layers of a static guitar. There is a whole sonic richness on this concert with a better fusion synth/guitar which multiplies the oneiric layers in morphic structures filled with delicate sparkles. The first pulsations of this surrealist universe emerge on Part 3. They skip in their echoes, shaping a surprising arrhythmia in a heavy ambience fed by short guitar solos and by heavy layers of a dark and enveloping synth. Mixing this half-rhythm and harmony with guitar chords that roll in loops and brief solos that float in hybrid ambient movements, Silent Currents 2 crisscrosses its 14 segments with greater fluidity and an intense musical fauna that was lacking on the 2002 concert. Erik Wøllo has matured and acquired greater dexterity, allowing him to interweave his segments a little better with a greater musical richness. If the dark synth layers still draw spectral waves, there is always a harmonious limpidity that stands out, juxtaposing two quite different entities on the same movement, as on Part 6. Synthesized wandering movements abound, weaving superb ambient moments which are often surprised by impromptu pulsations as one can hear on Part 7 and Part 9 with its sweet fluty song in this universe with multiple sound dimensions.

In short, 2 worlds and 7 years separate Erik Wøllo's two performances and we can hear it. If Silent Currents 1 is more ambient and arrhythmic, Silent Currents 2 is more lively and musical. We can hear an Erik Wollo with more maturity and confidence who is no longer afraid of rhythms and of the challenges to master several instruments in concert. SILENT CURRENTS is a good album which is mainly aimed at Wøllo fans, although the 2nd CD is surprisingly musical and could appeal to electronic music lovers closer to the Berlin School style. Note the very beautiful artwork that envelops this nice digipack box which is a good little piece of art and which abounds in the achievements of Sam Rosenthal's label, Projekt.

Sylvain Lupari( September 15th, 2011) *****

Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp

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