BY MICHAEL TOLAND
Finnish-American guitarist Raoul Björkenheim has wielded his axe in a variety of contexts, from the free jazz of Scorch Trio to the long-running prog/jazz hybrid Krakatau. Doors of Perception, his third album with eCsTaSy, showcases the jazz side of his personality. Joined by saxophonist Pauli Lyytinen, bassist Jori Huhtala and drummer Markku Ounaskari, Björkenheim confidently blends expansive composition and loose improvisation, like a blend of Miles Davis fusion and Ornette Coleman free playing. Though highly skilled and no stranger to effects, especially distortion, Björkenheim doesn’t overload his space with sound and fury, staying close to the pocket and comping as often as riffing and soloing. The liquid “Ecstasy Dance,” frenetic “Answer It!” and noisy title track use aggression for intensity, rather than flamboyance, showing off his talents without making a fuss about it. Lyytinen proves himself the leader’s match, spiraling through the swinging “Elemental” and honking across the jerking “Jitterfug.” Huhtala sticks with acoustic bass, giving the bottom a proper shading of lightness as well as anchor, while Ounaskari keeps the rhythms percolating, even under a fever dream like “Sunflower.” Fusion without cliché, Doors of Perception provides a freaky good time for jazz fans with a sense of adventure.
DOWNLOAD: “Elemental,” “Doors of Perception,” “Ecstasy Dance”