Erik Wøllo


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On Gateway, Erik Wøllo presents the kind of travelog predicted by Joe Meek with I Hear a New World, a soundtrack of a visit to an alien world. The roots of the release are more readily placed in late-'70s space rock and '80s new age, though, and while Gateway is an enjoyable listen, it's not very inspiring in feeling like a new launching point for both sound and style. The elegant blend of dreamy synth loops, deep bass tones, soft electric guitar parts, and more simply doesn't break through into a new, striking synthesis. There's no question that Gateway is both well-performed and arranged; it's a lovely sounding effort throughout, with standout tracks including the title song, a quiet shuffling beat anchoring a peaceful piano melody and other elements suggesting a ship gently arcing through alien skies, and "The Traveler," with its mid-song break of sudden synth swells feeling like a sudden sunrise over the arc of a planet. "Land of Myths" starts out with a cosmic tour Cosmos sense, then more steady synth plucks and rolls show up on "First Arrival," sounding like a first meeting with aliens -- definitely the end of '70s-zone space rock via a new age filter when the steady ominous/beautiful late-night Miami Vice synths come in. The concluding track, "Thule," revolves around both a slightly more upfront rhythm and a slow, flowing, treated guitar loop that ends the album on a high note -- it's at once of a piece with the rest of the album, while also giving a sense that things will continue in a chilled, wondrous way. In all, though, the sheer pleasantness of Gateway, its attractive mysteriousness and gentle, contemplative feeling, is of a piece with many other albums over the years, making it neither more nor less than exactly what it aims to be.

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