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Raoul Bjorkenheim: Apocalypso

Glenn Astarita By

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Born in Los Angeles, CA and a longtime resident of Helsinki, Finland, cutting-edge guitarist Raoul Bjorkenheim has carved out a successful and somewhat entrepreneurial musical persona in the Euro progressive rock scene. He first came to prominence with the late drummer Edward Vesala's Sound & Fury band, while subsequently creating the avant-garde and widely acclaimed quasi-free jazz/rock unit Krakatau. Subsequent to his performance on Finland-based UMO Jazz Orchestra's Electrifying Miles CD and a recent ambient-based outing with guitarist Nicky Skopelitis, Bjorkenheim raises the bar a few notches on this 2001 release.

Originally commissioned for the Helsinki Juhlaviikot Festival, which called for 100 guitarists, Bjorkenheim ultimately lessened the enormity of this opus by tasking a mere 42 musicians to get the job done. Here, Bjorkenheim performs and multi-tracks all guitar, bass and drum parts for a sequence of works that seem to herald the advent of doomsday. Granted, the guitarist sports an enviable technique whether utilizing a slide to make his axe weep atop thumping rhythms or when executing fiery and often scathing single note leads. However, the overall tone of this project might insinuate dour circumstances via the artist's ominous choruses and discordant musings. On the piece titled "Circles," Bjorkenheim utilizes feedback, crunch chords, and volume control techniques amid a background of guitar loops and intermittent injections of tribal-like rhythms. Thus, he continues to impress via his implementations of rippling harmonics, textural dreamscapes and moaning choruses. Simply stated, Bjorkenheim is an adventurous soul who possesses a distinct craft, although, Apocalypso casts a rather grim outlook, largely due to the artiste's somewhat enigmatic propositions.

Cuneiform Records


Track Listing: Oracles; Sages; Rain; Surf Dance; Lament; Circles; Apocalypso; Spirits; Last Oracle.

Personnel: Raoul Bj

Title: Apocalypso | Year Released: 2001 | Record Label: Cuneiform Records

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