Blixt

Raoul Björkenheim – guitar
Bill Laswell – electric bass
Morgan Ågren – drums

I first met Bill Laswell in 1996 during the recording of an album for Paul Schütze titled “Phantom City: Site Anubis”. As a result, we gave a few concerts during the following years, and recorded a live cd at the Tampere Jazz Happening titled “Shiva Recoil”. Laswell invited me to perform with Nicky Skopelitis’s band Ekstasis in Warsaw in 1998, and he also produced our record with Nicky called “Revelator”. I moved from Helsinki to New York City in August, 2001, and Laswell asked me to play in the touring band of Gigi, the incredible Ethiopian singer. We had time to play a few concerts, but the rest of our tour got cancelled due to 9/11. Nonetheless, in 2002 we toured the east coast as an opening act for Baba Maal, and opened in New Orleans for the Neville Brothers. I saw Laswell every now and then, and had the privilege of being able to work in his studio to record several of my own albums. I moved back to Helsinki in 2008.

I met Morgan Ågren in 2006 during the recording of “Box: Studio 1”, for Rune Grammofon. We had been asked to improvise an album in the studio by a British film maker living in Denmark called Phillip Mullarkey, with the musicians Trevor Dunn on bass (mr. Bungle, Fantomas) and Ståle Storlökken on keyboards (Supersilent). After two days in the studio we went on a short tour in Europe, some of which was filmed and can be seen on youtube. I had a great time in that band, but we never played any more together due to difficult logistics, and I was left feeling that we still have many things to do with Morgan. He and I have many things in common, like being great fans of Frank Zappa’s music, and although I’ve been focused on free jazz and improvised music, I love playing those heavy, complex rhythms. It’s a challenge for me to match the energy Morgan radiates on his drum set, which has three bass drums.

In 2010 I visited Laswell in New York, and showed him a youtube film of Morgan playing with the guitarist Fredrik Thordendal, from Meshuggah. He liked what he heard, and I proposed that we do something together as a trio. During the summer I travelled to Stockholm and spent a few days working out some ideas with Morgan, and he visited me in Finland. The music came together very naturally, our ideas bouncing off each other, and later that year Bruce Gallanter of Downtown Music Gallery, a specialist store for progressive music in New York, organized a concert for us at the Bowery Poetry Club. We met Laswell a few days before the concert, showing him the ideas we had come up with, and he enriched and transformed them with his bass playing. After the concert we spent two days at Laswell’s studio in New Jersey recording our first cd, “Blixt”. It was a very organic process, a good combination of structured ideas and improvisation, and we worked on each piece to get it just right, so it wasn’t just a stream-of-conscious session. Laswell then spent a week mixing it together with Bob Musso, his trusted studio engineer, and it was finally mastered by Michael Fossenkemper.

BLIXT at the Stone, NYC Photo Peter Gannushkin

BLIXT at the Stone, NYC
Photo Peter Gannushkin