"Björkenheim has been well regarded since his 1980s work...but his recent releases have been particularly memorable." – Stereophile

Guitarist and composer Raoul Björkenheim emerged from Finland in the 80s with Edward Vesala's band, then started his own group, Krakatau, who recorded for ECM and Cuneiform.

He is probably best known for his work with Scorch Trio and with Bill Laswell and Morgan Agren in Blixt, but he has been a busy, active player for the last 30 years. As anyone who has every seen him can attest, he is one of the great, unheralded guitarists of our time.



RUNE 373


"Finnish guitarist Raoul Björkenheim’s...got a new band named the title of this album, and they play “out” jazz with lots of sass and vigor. Ecstasy recalls the thornier side of the ECM Records catalog, especially the works of fellow Scandinavians Edward Vesala and Terje Rypdal. Björkenheim attacks the guitar the way the late great Sonny Sharrock did—like Coltrane and Ayler “attacked” their saxophones (mad-fierce aban- don)—yet blues is never very far away. There’s also the chunky focus of pre-Mahavishnu John McLaughlin and the searing wit of Frank Zappa. The way RB cross-pollinates between jazz and rock recalls fellow traveler Nels Cline, and the results are similar: Oblique swing, gnarly noise, predictably unpredictable, swell." – Icon

eCsTaSy is his new electric, ecstatic jazz band, which features some of the younger talents on the Finnish jazz scene and which was designed to be an ensemble that will regularly go out and tour. The group consists of Raoul, Pauli Lyytinen (saxophones), Jori Huhtala (contrabass) and Markku Ounaskari (drums) in a repertory of original compositions painting swirling polyrhythms with a free-tonal palette.

With influences ranging from Korean and African music to contemporary chamber music, new jazz and free rock, eCsTaSy's mission is to elevate its audiences with their high energy and dedication to adventurous sound.

"The band name Ecstasy refers to a music that is so fluid and intelligible that it flows around and past obstacles, and attains the listener by surprise and joy. The listener finds himself outside of his self, transported. I firmly believe that music does have a mission to elevate the spirit, to remind the listener about the ecstasy of being alive. I'd love our band to play so much together that we'd be able to communicate on a high level of ESP, and make our group interplay truly virtuosic in the positive meaning of that word. Then we could communicate to any audience, regardless of whether "jazz", "rock" or 'contemporary.'" – Raoul Björkenheim

eCsTaSy brings together new and established names from the Finnish scene into a compact powerhouse of an ensemble.

Cuneiform: 2014, Catalog #: 373

Buy this album


RUNE 156


Finnish guitarist Raoul's energizing, furious playing has been featured with a wide array of well known international artists, including Mats Gustavsson, Henry Kaiser, Mike Keneally, Bill Laswell, Michael Manring, Paul Schütze, Nicky Skopelitis, Jah Wobble and many others. Apocalypso was written in 1995, & premiered in 1996 at the Helsinki Juhlaviikot Festival. Apocalypso is a galvanizing & exciting work that features the massed power of 30 guitarists, 8 bassists and 4 percussionists. This version, recorded in 2000, features Raoul performing all of the parts himself in a tour-de-force of virtual ensemble playing.

Cuneiform: 2001. Catalog #: 156

Buy this album



This is a reissue of the Finnish lp-only first release by this great rock/avant/fusion guitarist and his band, and includes two bonus tracks. The record features a unique blend of heavy guitarwork combined with dual, wailing Coleman and Ayler-influenced saxes and a rhythm section of bass/electric bass and two drummers. The music is quite original, but has certain musical ties to the harmolodic school ala The Decoding Society and Prime Time. ECM released their 3rd and 4th albums and since that time Raoul has performed with a number of great players in a number of different playing situations. But this is where it all began, and it began in a great way here!

"...one of the best albums heard in a few months." - Musician

Cuneiform: 1996, Catalog #: Rune 86

Buy this album

For press and media: cover art and high resolution images are available below for download (click thumbnail, right-click image and select "Save As.."). Please credit the photographer (when available) and "Courtesy of Cuneiform Records". For more information, click here.


eCsTaSy Press Release
Apocalypso Press Release
Apocalypso Press Quotes
Ritual Press Release

facebook twitter
© Cuneiform Records 2014


Subscribe to Cuneiform's newsletter!