Thursday, June 29, 2017

Raoul Björkenheim Triad - Beyond (Eclipse Music, 2017)

American born guitarist Raoul Björkenheim spends most of his time in his ancestral homeland of Finland where he has recorded in a wide range of settings as a leader and sideman. His new trio is called Triad, with Ville Rauhala on bass, Ilmari Heikinheimo on drums. They work very well together, leavening some scalding guitar workouts with spacey musical exploration that makes the most of the trio format. "Act of Will" opens the album with a raw and ominous smear of sound and broken beat, gradually building into a more frenetic feel, one that can barely contain the energies within. There is a piston like rhythm and shrieks of guitar as drums thrash and bass and guitar swoops and snarls, leading to a powerful conclusion. A strong backbeat anchors "Move On" that is soon joined by thick bass, setting up a deep pocket and groove. Bjorkenheim comes blasting in, heaving shards of electrically charged guitar playing into the potent mix. They develop a scalding improvised section, with rockish guitar wailing against the fast rhythmic backdrop, building to an abrupt ending. There is an understated jazziness to "Petals" which still manages to retain an undercurrent of menace, with fractured rhythm and intertwining guitar and bass interplay. The group comes together in a taut and nimble improvised section in which the bass and drums take control for a bit, adding subtle brushes to good effect, contributing an eerie overall feeling to the music. A huge scalding guitar riff introduces "Katarsis" along with heavy bowed bass and sharp drumming. Developing a provocative near metal vibe, the music lashes out with lines that slash and parry, enveloping the listener into a three-way tangle of riotous and resonant improvisation. "Beyond," the title track, is aptly named because it falls out of any readily identifiable category, with echoes of sheer sound waxing and waning creating chilly, and haunting music that defies genre conventions. Electronic distortion wavers in the background, framed by supple percussion, further adding to the mood of the performance. Sharp, potent guitar along with thick bass and drums rip into "Arise" which displays a ripe, swaggering interplay of instruments. The leader solos in a very impressive manner as the drums are encouraging him every step of the within a scalding performance that is anchored by deep bass.  "Blunt Stunt" has a choppy funk rhythm, with guitar ripping across the jumpy bass and drums. This the most fusion like setting on the album and it suits the band well, with a bouncy bass and drums interlude in the middle, enveloped by unusual sounds. "The Rain Is Over" has riotous guitar focused by bowed bass and rolling drums. The music is very intense and exciting with waves of guitar feedback echoing around the soundscape, then echoing into a spacey section to end the album. Beyond -

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