Raoul Björkenheim

Apocalypso

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At first, Apocalypso was a commission piece for 42 musicians written by Raoul Björkenheim and premiered in 1995 at the Helsinki Juhlaviikot Festival. The piece continued to evolve and transform until 2000, when the guitarist decided to put it on record. He rearranged it, reducing the number of parts, and decided to perform it all on his own. The result is a thick, dense multi-track guitar piece with bass and programmed drums. The 42-minute suite lies somewhere between Glenn Branca's guitar symphonies (although a lot less minimal) and David Torn's What Means Solid, Traveller. Highly rhythmic, crunchy, but never overtly noisy, it is first of all a showcase for the guitarist. His solos are burning, his palette of tones mesmerizing. On a compositional level Apocalypso is less impressive. Each seguing movement offers a different atmosphere, but overall the piece tends to feel linear and a lot more simpler and rock-oriented than early Krakatau records. "Oracle" opens with strange, twangy notes and layers upon layers of atmospheric guitars. An energy peak is reached in the title track, a wild nine-minute solo over an insisting rock pattern and an Arabic or Jewish figure who recalls the unbridled energy of Ne Zhdali. Here, a real drummer would have been helpful. Not the essential Björkenheim CD, Apocalypso still makes a very nice listen and contains serious guitar chops.

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