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Published: 2001/11/21
by Michael Lello

Revelator – Nicky Skopelitis and Raoul Bjorkenheim

Innerhythmic 009
Equal parts world and progressive music, "Revelator", a project that
brings together
Bjorkenheim, the well-known Finnish guitarist, and Skorpelitis, is a tough
album to figure out. What you have here is only four lengthy instrumental
tracks. With no
vocals, or even a
traditional drumbeat, during the entire duration of the disc, it’s not jazz,
and while it certainly is
progressive, it’s not progressive rock, per se. You can’t pigeonhole this
album.
This music is certainly weird. And weird music is often enjoyable. But it
becomes apparent
that bands like King Crimson, Radiohead and Tool are enjoyable in spite of
their weirdness, not
simply because of it. "Revelator", with its constant tabla drums and sitar
drones, never reaches the
compelling heights of those bands’ gloriously weird music. Sometimes it
seems
like weirdness just
for weirdness’s sake.
The first track, Sacrament, is slow, trippy and dark. Think Tool or
King Crimson, but
with an Eastern flavor thanks to tablas and sitar. The sitar drone creates a
backdrop for Robert
Fripp-like electric guitar soundscapes with an arpeggiated guitar chord
repeated over it. Combine
the tablas and the drone, the guitar soundscape and the lead line, and you
have a pretty
trance-inducing piece. A bluesy acoustic riff eventually takes over,
reminiscent of 1970s-era Steve
Howe or Steve Hackett. The eerie, jangly, barely audible percussion in the
background is
reminiscent of "Larks Tongues in Aspic"-era Crimson.

Epiphany is next, opening with a bluesy acoustic guitar riff over
tablas and bowed
electric guitar. It settles into a Middle Eastern-groove, until two
interlocking guitar lines swirl in
and out of each other, hearkening another era of Crimson, the
"Discipline" era, when Fripp was
joined by his guitar foil Adrian Belew. At the nine-minute mark, the
darkness
dissipates and a
blissful twin-guitar lead takes over — possibly the epiphany in question?
This is the
only ray of light we’ve
witnessed shining through the clouds thus far. The lead line here is a
major-chord, melodic romp
and rekindles Eric Johnson’s best and least-pretentious playing. It’s also
as close to a rock
moment you’ll find on "Revelator".

The album as a whole plays like a soundtrack, and the deeper you get into the album, the more you want to see that movie. It would probably be a contrast in light and dark, Eastern and Western. However, you’ll have to be content with screening that movie in your mind’s eye. Nevertheless, the album is successful in conveying an array of moods, mostly on the melancholy, introspective end of the scale. "Revelator", released on the iconoclastic Bill Laswell’s new Innerythmic label, is a challenging, artistic piece of music. While it surely can be classified as world music, and does have the qualities of a soundtrack, these aren’t simply disposable New Age sounds suitable for a soothing compilation album. On the contrary, some of these sounds are far from soothing. Skopelitis (guitars, baglama, electric sitar), Bjorkenheim, Bill Buchen (tablas, water drum, log drum) and Laswell (mysteriously credited with "sounds") paint an impressionistic picture that runs the gamut of human emotions, from peacefulness, to downright evil.

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