ERIK WOLLO: Silver Beach (1986/2013)
“Even in a more rock approach, Silver Beach conserves all the nuances of the pastel colours of Erik Wollo's universe”
1 Four 5:40 2 Panorama 5:02 3 The Open Room 2:16 4 Journey 6:32 5 The Emeralds 5:16 6 Crystal- Ice 4:42 7 Dark Eyed Drums 6:39 8 Silver Beach 3:36 9 Little Big Tune 3:38 10 Mountain Train 5:14 11 Recitation 4:09 12 Chime 3:33 13 Wintergarden Ethereal 4:16
14 Lakeside 3:10
15 Sequenza 7:08 Projekt | ARC 00099
(DDL 72:37) (V.F.)
(Melodious up-beat EM)
We often imagine Erik Wollo's musical universe as being of ambiences and dreams. And it's a little bit true. The Norwegian multi-instrumentalist knew always how to catch the hearing by beautiful melodies sewn in the corridors of his Scandinavian sensibility. Nevertheless, albums such as Emotional Landscapes, although timid, Gateway and more recently Airborne were the witnesses of a sonic universe where the rhythms were surrounded by melodies always mesmerizing. It’s a bit much what waits for us with this new edition of SILVER BEACH. New edition because this Erik Wollo's 4th solo album initially hit the market, with 8 tracks, in 1986 by the means of the Norwegian label Cicada Records. Two years later, the album was launch out in a CD format, always on Cicada Records, with 2 music tracks in bonus. And finally, the Spanish label Margen Records gave to it a new sonic skin in 2005 with 5 other tracks in bonus. Recently, Wollo shares his intimist and new works via the download platform of the American label Projekt Music. And it it's in this stride that he offers this long time out of print album in a quite new sonic skin. A request asked from a lot of his fans, old ones as new ones. At its release, this album showed a new orientation in Erik Wollo's career. The Scandinavian bard abandoned his guitar for rhythms and melodies purely electronic conceived entirely on the MIDI technology and on the use of the Roland MSQ700. Less dreamy and more direct, SILVER BEACH proposed a style clearly more dynamic than the first 3 opuses of Wollo. In fact, even himself qualified this album as being his rock album!
And that begins with the brusque rhythm of Four. The movement is circular and hypnotic with chords which rub themselves and collide with skilfully mixed tones, shaping a strange circular race which reminds an auk on acid running awkwardly on the timescales of a clock. The approach reminds me a little of the dance of Michael Stearns' penguins in Plunge while the melodious envelope, which walks in the shade of the rhythm, reminds me of Forever the Optimist by Patrick O'Hearn. This reference to O'Hearn will stick to our ears throughout the scrolling of the 15 tracks of this album. And this no matter its 3 releases. Let's take Panorama and its organic tick-tock which resounds in the soft pads of a melancholic synth and of its delicate ethereal harmonies. I hear O'Hearn at full ears. After the melancholic The Open Room and its slow melody which bears the world on its shoulders, Journey throws us in the curt and circular rhythms of Four but with more lasciviousness. With The Emerald, we fall in the realm of the soft morphic ballads cheered up by sweet harmonious chords. The rhythm is slow, sometimes heavy, based on good percussions and a good bass line with nervous notes while the harmonies are weaved in the tears of a synth and its intense chords of glass which sing. The ballads here abound. After the ambient carousel of Crystal-Ice which swirls in the somber pads of a pensive synth, Dark Eyed Drums draws our attention immediately with its heavy hits of percussions which strike simultaneously our left and right eardrum. The mood is as well heavy as intriguing with a dark approach and where the synth whistles a soporific melody filled by a melancholic approach. Moreover, the whole of Dark Eyed Drums soaks into an intense dramatic approach deserving of a dramatic and suspense movie where the beautiful one is dying, even if the melody clears up to sound with more optimism in our ears. We are full in the 80's with this ballad of the MTV kind. It's very beautiful. The title-track enclosed SILVER BEACH smoothly with synth pads which sing over a twinkling water. The arrangements are attractive and drag the tears of cellos which sigh over this sonic bed with waters of prism.
Little Big Tune was the first bonus track on the first reedition of 1998. And it's a heavy one with a rhythm which resounds and pulsates as much as that the melody clinks in our ears with its chords as crystal clear as crystallized water. Mountain Train is also a heavy track with its rhythm which beats of its big but fluid hypnotic tick-tocks and its sweet melody, very artless but quite catchy, sewn in fluty breaths. If these two tracks give more punch and rhythm to this album, Recitation leads us back to Erik Wollo's Scandinavian ambiences with an ambient melody which haunts the listening by these synth lines that sing like angels who have a cold on a delicate spheroidal rhythm. After the black hypnotic ritornello of Chime, Wintergarden Ethereal inhales the poetry of its naming with seraphic breaths which float on a delicate ambient rhythm. It's some beautiful ambient music, as well as Lakeside which was written 9 years later, like Sequenza's long minimalist track, with subtle variations, essentially based on the art of the rhythmic sequencing. This is very good. Erik Wollo weaves a hypnotic rhythmic pattern where the jumping keys walk on their shadows in order to create a rhythmic synergy which borders a shape of trance. The harmonious ingredients, such as the chimed notes, the drops of prism and the sibylline airs of synth are the heart of the harmonies that the Scandinavian musician knew always how to exploit with finesse.
In spite of its more rock look, SILVER BEACH conserves all the nuances of pastel from Erik Wollo's sound universe. And I understand those who wanted a reedition, because it is really a beautiful album where the ethereal rocker is always well rooted in his silky foggy mosaic. It's a beautiful album where the rhythms take all the forms and where the atmospheres float in all their colors without ever denying the Norvegian bard's soft harmonious visions. Certainly, there are tracks that move and rock rather hardly, but never enough to divert us because the harmonious envelopes which surround them inhale the Erik Wollo thtat we always knew.
Sylvain Lupari (November 12th, 2011) ***½**
Available at Project Music Bandcamp