Exposé Online banner

Raoul Björkenheim — Ecstasy
(Cuneiform Rune 373, 2014, CD)

by Jon Davis, Published 2014-05-18

Ecstasy Cover art

Ecstasy finds Raoul Björkenheim in a quartet setting with drums, upright bass, and saxophone along with his guitar. The band has been playing together since 2010, and they've forged bonds of highly intuitive communication, blurring the lines between composition and improvisation. All four are inventive players, capable of dazzling the listener, more with creativity than technical prowess. Björkenheim's playing has the free-wheeling intensity of Sonny Sharrock, and his tones remind me of Terje Rypdal at times, but he's his own man, and his approach to what the electric guitar should do in this otherwise acoustic context knows no boundaries, sometimes using fairly clean tones, sometimes distorted. This is a very different sound from when I last heard him (on Blixt). Saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen plays tenor and soprano (I think — the credits aren't specific), and manages to keep the soprano from sounding wimpy and overly pretty like it so often does. His breath and grit form a lot of the appeal to the recording. After the two energetic pieces that start the CD, we get "Deeper," with cavernous arco bass from Jori Huhtala, and moody long tones on the other instruments; drummer Markku Ounaskari provides sputtering accompaniment. Such free pieces fit well with the composed tracks, which are interpreted very loosely, usually consisting almost exclusively of a melody stated on the sax with the guitar either doubling it or providing commentary. Aside from the melody, there may be a few rhythmic motifs that bring the band together, serving as a springboard for improvisation, that that's it — no fancy polyphony or complex arrangements. On "Through the Looking Glass," things get a bit more freaky, with Björkenheim indulging in some extensive knob-twiddling. But every track has great moments to offer, and Ecstasy is a kick from start to finish. Put it together with Dylan Ryan's Sand and you've got hope for the future of jazz.


Filed under: New releases, 2014 releases

Related artist(s): Raoul Björkenheim

More info
http://cuneiformrecords.bandcamp.com/album/ecstasy

Latest news

2020-01-21
Gong Announces UK Tour for 2020 – Having spent the last few years touring the world, including dates in Japan with psych legend Steve Hillage, multiple headline European tours and festivals, America’s Cruise to the Edge festival, a South America headline tour, and a headline performance at Tomorrow Festival in China, the band have won the hearts of both traditional and modern Gong fanbases. During this live journey, Gong has delved further into the truly psychedelic, exploratory, and mind-expanding side of the music. » Read more

2020-01-15
Carlos Alvarado RIP – Carlos Alvarado, pioneering composer, multi-instrumentalist and pioneer of progressive rock and electronic experimental music in Mexico, passed away January 14th, 2020 at age 68 after a two year battle with cancer.  » Read more

2020-01-12
Wolfgang Dauner RIP – Pianist Wolfgang Dauner, one of the pioneers of both European free jazz and jazz rock, has died at the age of 84. With his own groups and with the United Jazz+Rock Ensemble, his playing and compositions were a prominent presence in European jazz from the mid-60s until just recently. » Read more

2020-01-12
Michael Allison RIP – Michael Allison, who since 1997 has been recording as Darshan Ambient, passed away on January 9th after a long and brave battle with cancer. He has been at at the forefront of the new ambient/electronic music scene, with over eighteen releases to his credit. » Read more

2020-01-10
Neil Peart RIP – One of rock music's defining drummers has died at the age of 67. Neil Peart's work with Rush provided one of the templates for percussion in rock, and he certainly ranks in the top ten most influential drummers of the 20th Century. Peart retired from playing in 2015 due to health issues, and succumbed to brain cancer on January 7, 2020. » Read more


Previously in Exposé...

5uu's - Hunger's Teeth – Ever wonder what some of the classic progressive bands would sound like today had they maintained their edge and not grown lazy and comfortable and become caricatures of themselves? Enter the...  (1994) » Read more



Listen & discover



Print issues