Erik Wøllo and Byron Metcalf first began talking about collaborating when they met at Steve Roach’s Soundquest Fest in 2010. Now they soar into 2016 with Earth Luminous, offering deep soundwork based around a rhythm scheme sketched out in tight sequencer angles complemented with tribal-ambient potency, all of it lifted into flight by the graceful sighs of Wøllo’s signature ambient guitar style. The blend of electronic and acoustic, and of velocity and glide, make this an extremely pleasant ride. Metcalf’s always trance-inducing percussion plays out in the broad, muscular resonance of the frame drum, the crisp snap of clay pot, and the hiss of shakers. It is always present, but never too forcefully so, not taking control but regulating the pulse. The chemistry is delightful. And there’s a fair variety of approaches in the mix, helping keep things moving even if neither artist strays too much from familiar territory. “Far Wanderer” is pure Berlin School pleasure, with its insistent sequencer pulse holding down the line for Wøllo’s long guitar draws. It’s got a nice mid-range velocity, just fast enough to envigorate. The dry hiss of Metcalf’s shakers get right to work on your head as they establish the rhythm, backed with the assertive thump of the frame drum. The pulsing energy of “Light and Ground” feels so familiar, if I didn’t know any better, I’d swear Steve Roach walked in and sat down to jam. Opening with crunchy analog bass signals and broadening out on warm, stretchy chords and Metcalf’s array of hypnotics, it achieves escape velocity pretty quickly. As the shakers massage your frontal lobe, the guitar regulates your breathing to achieve a full-on “let’s leave our body” groove. Great track. “Distant Future” is an interesting, almost minimal piece where Wøllo lays out odd spiral chirps of sound against the drums. It’s unlike anything else on the album, and it feels like watching a curling cloud of fireflies flitting around. A slow-moving, pulsing melody rises like dawn in the background, coming on almost imperceptibly and insinuating itself into the flow. A standout pleasure here is “Diomedea,” which flawlessly blends a chugging, churning drum line with vapor trail guitar lines from Wøllo. There’s a nice world music vibe as it goes along, upbeat and clear.
Earth Luminous is as distinctly Wøllo as it is distinctly Metcalf. Which could be like saying you’ve upped the presence of tribal-shamanic percussion on a Wøllo album, or added a lot more sighing ambient work to a Metcalf outing. Instead, what you have here is a meeting of like minds, a fluid convergence of thought and style that creates a deep, no-coming-up-for-air immersive listen. Richly hypnotic, softly gorgeous, and always ready for yet another listen. Beautiful work from two true talents.
Available from Bandcamp.