Let me open with two connected thoughts. One, that if I put all the Erik Wøllo music I own into one playlist and shuffled it, I am not sure I could honestly say that I could tell you which song came from which album. Two, I wouldn’t care as long as I was listening to Erik Wøllo. There are certain artists whose signature sounds never get old for me. A good Steve Roach tribal riff. A Mike Oldfield guitar solo. Erik Wøllo’s processed guitars and e-bow work. Blue Radiance gives us a fresh batch of realms that mix long sighs from the e-bow with piano melodies spooled out a single note at a time, tasty sequencer riffs, and cloudy ambient pads, and it is yet again another album that I want to put on, turn up, and let play. Does it sound familiar? Yes, but Wøllo’s music has an exuberance, an energy, that shoots straight through me. It’s the way the e-bow pulls notes out of the guitar and off into the far horizon, rising the whole time. It’s the analog bliss of those sharp sequencer lines bouncing out a rhythm. It’s the points where things dial down to an edge-of-ambient quiet that’s still loaded with kinetic potential. I like the mechanical rhythm underscores “Osmosis,” and the way it plays off against the keys. I like the guitar in “Revealed in Time” when it rings out in short solos over a chugging bass line electronic accents that would do Tangerine Dream proud. I like the earthy acoustic guitar that opens “Sepia” and the way it falls into an easy duet with keys. I like the rich depth of pads on “Crystal Orbits,” their sound putting me in mind of a very light but quite sacred church organ. Have I heard it from Wøllo before? Sure, if my previous reviews can be trusted. And, honestly, I’m happy to hear it again.
This genre is often marked—some might say negatively—by large dollops of sameness. It’s no sin to say that Erik Wøllo sounds like Erik Wøllo; the quality of the music is there. It affects the listener, which is the goal. You will groove along to his beats and rhythms, you will fall into the quiet valleys, and perhaps like me, something in you will stir a bit when that e-bow makes another note stretch and reach. As a reviewer, maybe I need to note that Blue Radiance does not waver from the Wøllo equation. As someone who enjoys his music, this album continues a very pleasant ride. Your appreciation of it may depend somewhat on how you feel about an artist sticking closely to a signature. Regardless, let this one in for a while because the voyage is cool, smooth and pleasant.
Available from Projekt.