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Revelator by Raoul Bjorkenheim and Nicky Skopelitis

Guitarists Nicky Skopelitis and Raoul Bjorkenheim have, with the help of percussionist Bill Buchen and Bill Laswell (credited with "sounds"), put together an instrumental album that draws from electronica, the rhythms of India, other Asian drones, and 70s progressive rock spaciness of Yes or King Crimson. It’s interesting and not unpleasant, but will likely appeal to a small but rabid audience.

The opening track, "Sacrament," is a modal piece in D, and contains some nice acoustic guitar work (reminiscent of Larry Coryell’s Ovation) atop the aforementioned drones, synthy guitar washes, tablas, bells, and chimes. Not quite raga, not quite new age, not quite ambient, trance, or devotional. But in the neighborhood of them all. "Epiphany" continues in a similar vein. Nothing violent or jarring here. Actually quite sedative, with a heavily reverbed arco bass sound paving the way for more tablas and bluesy acoustic riffing. I must admit that I do not know either guitarist’s music well enough to tell who is who; nonetheless, their two instrumental voices meld well. Repeated motifs intertwine, induce trance, and build tension before a return to the spacey bowed bass.

The first minutes of the third track, "Fresh Meat and Roses," reminds me a bit of "The End" by the Doors with a backing of Tuvan throat singers. Its guitar sounds are more electronic than those of the first two tracks, and the overall tone is more ominous. The last track, "Right as Rain," is the least percussive, and contains many layers of processed guitar tracks. Meditative and harp-strings feel.

There’s going to be a core group of a few hundred guitar junkies around the world who will really dig this recording. It’ll probably be incredibly hard to find in five or ten years, and you’ll see it being sold for five times its original price on eBay or whatever is around at that time. Others will fail to see its charms, as is the case with most "cult" recordings. That won’t stop its fans, though.

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: Raoul Bjorkenheim and Nicky Skopelitis
  • CD Title: Revelator
  • Genre: Ambient Jazz
  • Year Released: 2001
  • Record Label: Innerhythmic
  • Tracks: Sacrament, Epiphany, Fresh Meat and Roses, Right as Rain
  • Musicians: Nicky Skopelitis (guitars, baglama, electric sitar), Raoul Bjorkenheim (guitars, bowed guitar, percussion), Bill Buchen (tablas, water drum, log drum), Bill Laswell (sounds)
  • Rating: Two Stars
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