Erik Wollo: Sojourns (2022)
Updated: Sep 20
“More ambient than rhythmic, this album does not remain less poetic and emotional”
1 Memory Waves 4:39
2 Sojourn 1 6:34
3 Gravity 5:44
4 Sound and Shadows 7:54
5 Shimmer 6:28
6 Arcos Iris 8:06
7 Peace Bells 4:24
8 Sojourn 2 7:47
9 Still Water 5:20
10 Chrysalis 5:07
(CD/DDL 62:04) (V.F.)
It's with a slightly rising wave, in sound and emotion, that Erik Wøllo brings Memory Waves to our ears. Moving like a ghostly shadow, the movement floats with that slight humming that surrounds it. We hear whispered hums as the E-Bow casts its prismatic incantations, awakening after those long laments that shadow of bass that adds to that sense that the Norwegian bard's floating music is always in motion. If there is one thing that does not change in this wonderful world of electronic music (EM), it is the warm signature of Erik Wøllo. According to the famous website Discogs, SOJOURNS would be the 46th album, singles and EPs are not included, of the Scandinavian musician. Proposed in manufactured CD and in download, SOJOURNS proposes a collection of 10 tracks which always have this prismatic ascendancy with these shades of E-Bow and synthesizer of which the contrasting colors call as much the appeasement as the passion. More ambient than rhythmic, this new album offered by Projekt Records does not remain less poetic and emotional with incursions in these zones where our senses always answer to the charisma of the musical aestheticism of the Norwegian.
Distant loops welded together between a low tone and a brighter one, open the beautiful lunar downtempo that is Sojourn 1. The percussions have that woody tone with a sequenced cadence that serves as a bed for those nuanced waves curling between the opening hoops. A silvery river begins to flow behind this nice lyrical background, adding a bit of moiré luster to this rhythm that lives on this new resource up until the finale of a track that joins this long series of little musical gems, we find in Wøllo's repertoire. A breath in a horn announces the rise of Gravity. An ambient-meditative second track with layers of spectral voices intertwined with those of a synth-guitar pairing that gives an intriguing texture to the music. There are good, sibylline pads lurking around, accentuating that prismatic, melancholy vision that feeds EW's emotions. Deep and intense, the music of Sound and Shadows does justice to the meaning of its title with an ambient structure and its synth waves flowing like shadows. The circular radiance of a thin handful of sequences gives a semblance of animated life that is solidified by the slow ascending process of a bass line. The slow layers have an orchestral texture, titillating those chills that begin to tickle the skin on my arms. These layers coat also Shinner's circular rhythm which is built on a mesh of a bass to ascending percussive sequences. Finely jerky, this rhythm welcomes keyboard chords and misty layers before being swallowed by them in a slow finale that exceeds 60 seconds.
Blown by a cornet of contrasting tones, Arcos Iris clings to a layer bass of bass and of absent voices to borrow that river of glittering arpeggios from the finale of Sojourns 1. The tonality of the layers reminds us of a bit of Patrick O'Hearn's music, as the rhythm unrolls its slow ascending loops that are pecked with percussive rattling. The sound of the harmonies has this mixed texture that constantly embellishes a listening hypnotized by this tonal diversity. Firmly anchored in the hum of its bells, Peace Bells offers an ambient and meditative texture where a slow harmonic evolution is heard via guitar chords flowing like a lunar lullaby. The radiance of the bells as well as those of six-string chords, in addition to the floating laments of the E-Bow, fill a fairy-tale setting. Placed between this last track and the very ambient Still Water, Sojourn 2 bursts with its lively rhythm well installed on those sequenced bass-pulsations that act as percussions. In a very energetic mid-tempo, the rhythm is framed by fluty pads, other pads in the form of harmonious riffs and those tears from the E-Bow that put life to a veil of orchestrations on a structure that wants to be increasingly spasmodic. Sojourn 2 reaches a transition phase around the 4th minute, plunging for a short while in a sibylline atmosphere before resuming a rhythmic form more nuanced in its tonal color but just as attractive as its first minutes. A very solid track on SOJOURNS that ends with the purely electronic rhythm of Chrysalis. Pulsating bass hits a minimalist rhythm supported by sequences that flutter while following a circular pattern. The shine of the sequences tinkle like glass bottles with different levels of liquid, giving that distinction that makes this rhythmic ritornello more seductive. The shadows of the E-Bow are murky, further enhancing the rhythmic radiance of Chrysalis.
What else can I say, except that this SOJOURNS is a very good album which makes a fair share between the diversity of its rhythmic textures and its purely meditative ambiences. It remains a rather conservative album from an Erik Wøllo who is less incisive on the level of the guitars but who keeps this poetic and melancholic vision which makes the delight of his fans.
Sylvain Lupari (January 26th, 2022) ****¼*
Available at Projekt Records Bandcamp