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POP
Echoes
An Architect of Ambience, a Poet of Electronic Landscapes
An Architect of Ambience, a Poet of Electronic Landscapes
On his CD Gateway, Norwegian guitarist Erik W°llo sends us piloting down canyons, soaring between mountains and launching on trajectories somewhere toward the heavens. Erik W°llo
Gateway
(Projekt)
Erik W°llo is an architect of ambience, a poet of electronic landscapes. Employing "cinematic" as an adjective for this music is a tiresome cliche, and it's been applied to everything W°llo has recorded. Yet on his latest CD, Gateway, his music does give you the sense of piloting down canyons, soaring between mountains and launching on trajectories somewhere toward the heavens. Put the title track of Gateway on loud while driving, and your car won't be the only thing on cruise control as W°llo's music turns an everyday commute into a fantasy journey.

On songs like "Life in Technicolor," groups like Coldplay try (with the help of Jon Hopkins) to attain the same kind of timeless, shifting mood that is Erik W°llo's stock in trade. And like them, Erik W°llo brings a minimalist's sense of austerity and design to expansive synthesizer orchestrations on the heroic strains of "The Traveler." It's that perfect W°llo mix of ping-ponging electronic rhythms and melodic pads that sweep in searchlight patterns.

With all the electronics, it's almost easy to forget that W°llo is a gifted guitarist. Most of the music is generated from a guitar or guitar synthesizer. He can make his six strings sound like an electronic symphony and on the highly ambient tracks that conclude the album, like "The Mental Trail" and "Full Circle," it sounds nothing like a guitar at all in their glacial motion and vast, horizon-like textures. But on pieces like "First Arrival" he can also pull out twanged liquid leads.

Erik W°llo manages to synthesize influences from Tangerine Dream and Pink Floyd to Steve Reich and modern electronica. But as one of the most distinctive voices in contemporary instrumental music, he's truly morphed these sounds into something that is wholly his own. Step through Erik W°llo's Gateway and you'll see his world revealed.