Norwegian composer Erik Wøllo is best known for making spacious, evocative ambient and new age music, primarily using atmospheric guitars and synthesizers. However, he has also composed numerous works for contemporary classical ensembles, as well as pieces for ballet, theater, multimedia installations, and library music. Additionally, he has explored genres such as techno, downtempo, and world fusion. Wøllo runs the Fredrikstad, Norway-based Wintergarden Studio, where he has recorded his own albums as well as releases by EBM act Apoptygma Berzerk. Coming from a background of jazz and progressive rock, Wøllo began making music in 1980, but really found his own style with his 1985 solo full-length Traces. His subsequent works have ranged from the rootsy, acoustic-based Guitar Nova (1998) to the Berlin School-inspired Different Spaces (2017), as well as Afro-beat-influenced collaborations with Ivory Coast-born musician Kouame Sereba. Wøllo has also recorded extensively with other noted ambient artists such as Steve Roach, Ian Boddy, and percussionist Byron Metcalf.
Erik Wøllo was born and raised in Hemsedal, Norway. He began playing guitar at the age of 11, and fell in love with progressive rock groups like Pink Floyd and Emerson, Lake & Palmer. He began his career as a professional musician in 1980, playing in jazz groups such as Celeste, who released a full-length titled Design by Music in 1983. Wøllo's fusion-influenced solo album Where It All Begins was released in 1983, followed by Dreams of Pyramids in 1984. Additionally, he released a soft jazz album titled Trio with vibraphonist Rob Waring and woodwind player Jan Wiese. However, in 1984 he decided to quit all of his bands and focus on making solo electronic music, utilizing his recording studio as an instrument.
Wøllo's solo album Traces, released by Cicada Records in 1985, was the turning point in his career and remains one of his most acclaimed works. Silver Beach followed in 1987. Wøllo released four albums on Origo Sound during the 1990s, beginning with 1990's Images of Light and concluding with 1997's Dimension D, an ambient techno album issued under the alias Exile. Additionally during the mid-'90s, Wøllo and Svalastog released a self-titled techno EP under the one-off moniker Pacemaker. Following 1996's solo effort Transit, Wøllo released the acoustic-based Guitar Nova in 1998. The serene Wind Journey appeared in 2001, and the icy-yet-warm The Polar Drones followed in 2003. Spotted Peccary reissued several of Wøllo's earlier albums during the early 2000s, and the label additionally released Emotional Landscapes (2003), Blue Sky, Red Guitars (a 2004 release which included two Kraftwerk covers), and Elevations (2007).
The 2010s proved to be Wøllo's most prolific decade. The composer issued numerous albums through Projekt, including another album with Roach (2011's The Road Eternal) as well as solo efforts, reissues, and the 2015 compilation Visions. Wøllo also collaborated with Ian Boddy, head of the DiN label, beginning with 2012's Frontiers; 2014's Weltenuhr (with Bernhard Wöstheinrich) also appeared on the label. The composer also released a series of library music collections through De Wolfe Music, beginning with two Ambisonics releases in 2013. In 2016, Wøllo and percussionist Byron Metcalf released the collaborative full-length Earth Luminous. Different Spaces, an ambitious double-CD, appeared in 2017, followed by additional Projekt full-lengths Cinematic, Threshold Point, and Infinite Moments. Meridian, Wøllo's third album with Boddy, appeared on DiN in 2018. Sources, a collection of early pieces recorded between 1986 and 1992, was released by Smalltown Supersound in 2019. ~ Paul Simpson