This Finnish composer’s works for percussion and one-man guitar orchestra are sonic playgrounds, as he blends joyful melodies with little surprises that leap from the mix. The opening "Oracle" and closing "Last Oracle" frame the disc with slide-guitar melodies that twist like sidewinders until they cross minefields of feedback and noise. These numbers are a blend of tongue-in-cheek blues and psychedelic slow rock. Björkenheim’s love of the possibilities of digital delay is in evidence everywhere, from layered short exercises like "Rain," where his guitar mimics the qualities of drops hitting puddles and making ripples, to "Lament," where he uses an E-bow and various effects to re-create a mournful cello. And at times, he just stomps. "Circles" uses repeating loops of guitar and thunderous drumbeats to move from metal crunch to delicate pointillism to braying industrial tones that hang in the air like the sighs of bending steel — each entering at its own unpredictable pace.
What’s hip about Björkenheim — beside his embrace of rock-and-roll attack — is his concentration on tone. Many guitar-based composers use a clean sound or work more on technique than on dialing up amp voices that have a presence and character of their own. Björkenheim’s signature sound seems as blue and wailing as Peter Green’s, yet he’s game for employing a half-dozen guitar sounds for a single piece to cover as much of the spectrum as possible. That makes for a wider emotional range from measure to measure, and it turns pieces like the 10-minute title track into a fretboard feast.