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Raoul Björkenheim Ecstasy: Doors of Perception (Cuneiform)

Review of album by the Finnish-American guitarist Raoul Björkenheim and his group Ecstasy

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Cover of Raoul Björkenheim Ecstasy album Doors of Perception
Cover of Raoul Björkenheim Ecstasy album Doors of Perception

When the Finnish-American guitarist Raoul Björkenheim formed Ecstasy with saxophonist/flutist Pauli Lyytinen, bassist Jori Huhtala and drummer Markku Ounaskari, the idea was that the group would concentrate on playing its leader’s compositions. Seven years and two albums later, things have changed; seven out of 10 tracks on Doors of Perception are credited to all four band members.

At first, the jam-born nature of this material is a little too clear. “Ides of March” gets the album off to a promising start with swirls of stormy weather from all concerned. But both it and the three cuts that follow are essentially mood pieces with little variation in harmony (although track three, “Buzz,” does benefit from an insistently seesawing main melodic line and a galloping tempo).

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