Erik Wøllo / Michael Stearns
I found this record recently in a beautiful fluke – well, a routine search for ambient/space records I guess. What a find. I knew Michael Stearns’ fine work – particularly his score for Baraka (and its ‘sister’ films). He made ambient electronic music in the late 1970s and through the 1980s that was as important in its way as anything by Eno or Philip Glass.
Erik Wøllo is more new to me – a Norwegian composer and guitarist who I was made aware of, adjacent to my constant digging for new soundtrack works. He grew up inspired by Stearns’ work, among others. This is their first collaboration, taking place in different countries, the pair having only ever met once.
It’s a fusion of keyboard and guitar treatments – layers and layers of sound. I think, instantly of the Fripp/Eno records, a blueprint of sorts.
What I love about this record most, is that it’s essentially built by two guitarists (though both are multi-instrumentalists and producers). But it is about the least guitar-sounding album you might ever hear by two proficient players. And yet, at the same time, it couldn’t work without the guitar – it lives and breathes by the masterstroke of guitar and guitar-synths. Think not only Fripp, but more recently Buckethead, or Rhian Sheehan’s use of treated – delayed and layered – guitars.
The music of Convergence is subtle and holds me (pardon the unavoidable pun) like the music of Hammock. The gentle sway (!) of it. Nursing. Restorative. This is the ambient music I love most – where there is no pulse, as such, but the music bursts with life through textures.
Convergence is its own meditation.
It is also a return to the recording world – album-wise – for Stearns. His first in nearly two decades. And the continuation of a solid streak of very good work from Wøllo. Maybe they’ll work together again. And soon. Fingers crossed.