Raoul Bjorkenheim’s guitar work represents a mature extension of his presence as a leading guitarist in the Finnish and European experimental jazz and free improvisation movement. Very listenable, engaging, free improvisation, music that speaks of purity, and fragility, beauty, expansion, world community, and imagination, spinning out of intensive commitment to playing.
Mr. Bjorkenheim’s searing tone and spasmodic phrasing clashed compellingly with the tumult of Mr. Nilssen-Love’s percussion, at times, there were even insinuations of groove. Sonic references flew by, as jarring and jagged as shrapnel: the distorted fervor of John McLaughlin, the rapturous spirit of Jimi Hendrix, the ominous crunch of Black Sabbath. It was noisy but far from shapeless, and it flowed.
– New York Times
Finnish composer and guitarist Raoul Björkenheim burns it up with this power trio tour de force. But don´t expect Cream or Hendrix. Neither jazz nor rock nor a hybrid thereof, Luggumt represents a new direction in guitar music. Another triumph for this fine Norwegian label.
Each piece is built around a trick, perhaps an exotic rhythm Ligeti picked up on his African travels. But Björkenheim doesn’t just tease odd sounds from his axes: He knows his power chords, and forges his lines with a deeply metallic tone.
– Village Voice
Björkenheim should be better known. His outsize musical personality explodes like a Jimi Hendrix, Frank Zappa or John McLaughlin, with explosive throwdowns like the title track and the power riffs and flangy heavy rock pyrotechnics of “Iesnu!”. In contrast, “Raitru” occupies reverberant Scandinavian pastoral terrain, Björkenheim morphing his sound into arco bass or cello. As with Hendrix, there is camp flamboyance in Björkenheim´s outrageousness, he embraces feedback and overtones.
His guitar carries the narrative — sorting through a sweeping range of emotions, from the desperate to the angry, sounding like an accusation and then a sigh — while this grinding din billows up around him.
– Something Else
Music that suggests Hendrix living alone on the frozen Russian steppes listening in to shortwave transmissions from the spirits of Derek Bailey and Sonny Sharrock
Björkenheim literally pulverizes his agonized, yet indefatigable guitar, as Nilssen-Love’s tumultuous drumming coaxes further scrumptious abuse and Håker Flaten keeps the loose rhythms pumping along.
– One Final Note
Björkenheim plays with the unbridled energy and freedom of Albert Ayler, but against occasionally more tonally oriented backgrounds, variously recalling the sounds and style of James Blood Ulmer, the late Sonny Sharrock, and, on “Iesnu!”, the freakier side of Bill Frisell. The quiet track “Orita”’s microtonal inflections take things deeper into avant-garde territory. Yeah, I file this in the jazz section, but the heaviness and crunching riffs are definitely going to appeal to adventurous rock fans.
– The Big Takeover
Björkenheim unleashes abrasive chords that give way to acidic feedback, splintered single-string volleys that explode into ominously hovering drones.
Raoul really knows how to make his guitar talk, scream and blast away the doldrums of modern life.
– Downtown Music Gallery
Björkenheim´s playing is edgy to the bone with a power any rock band will envy him. On top of that he is a very searching improvisor who is constantly challenging himself, his bandmembers and not least us who are invited to listen.
Finnish-American guitarist Raoul Björkenheim is more or less the definition of iconoclast, which is especially notable given the fact that he attended one of the biggest jazz factories in the United States, Boston’s Berklee School of Music. Berklee has employed and produced its share of guitarists (including most prominently alumnus John Scofield and professor Pat Metheny), but none sound even remotely like Björkenheim. He’s uniquely noisy, focused, and open to lessons from genres as disparate as death metal and free jazz.
Björkenheim’s guitar pyrotechnics blend virtuosity and versatility with a keen sense of abstraction.
– Allaboutjazz NY
J’aime cette lourdeur qui n’étouffe pas les nuances présentes d’un bout à l’autre. J’aime l’équilibre instauré entre les moments forts et les plus doux. J’aime la cohésion totale du trio et sa façon de partir en improvisations. J’aime être tenue en haleine de la première a la dernière note. J’aime ce mélange de sophistication complexe et de force bestiale. J’aime ce jazz rock. J’aime Blixt.
– Highlands Magazine
Un incestuoso orgasmo di rock, jazz, ed umorali riffi estemporanei, una tensione empatica resistente e d’allubriacante potere seduttivo. Grugni fulminei avant(i)!!!
– Sound contest – Musica e altri linguaggi