Nicky Skopelitis & Raoul Björkenheim
by Lex Marburger
Ahhh, the great unknown. I always find a deep sense of satisfaction when a name finally connects with a sound. Nicky Skopelitis has made some great albums, but he’s never been a lone gunman. He is found paired up with the ’80s NYC crowd; Material, Sonny Sharrock, PiL (I know, PiL isn’t NYC, but the “generic” album that was produced by Laswell had a shitload of NYC guys, so I lump it in with the rest), etc, etc. He’s known for creating solid foundations for his fellow musicians, sonic landscapes that are often more interesting than the solos noodled off over it. An album like Revelator, put together with Raoul Björkenheim (and produced by, who else, Laswell), is business as usual for li’l Nicky. And business is good. This time around, we got guitar duets accompanied by tabla and “sounds” (oh, that wacky Billy L!), and it should come as no surprise that Skopelitis comes up with beautiful accompaniments (and solos, too, mind you. He’s not completely a backseat artist), with the tabla and “electric sitar” skewing the music in an Indian direction. None of the songs are overly aggressive, usually falling in that dangerous middle ground of “neo-ethnic-jazz-fusion.” Luckily, it doesn’t sound like Windham Hill taking a trip to Peter Gabriel’s house (although the songs are on average 15 minutes long), it sounds like what it is: Two talented and adventurous guitarists playing around with new sounds. Sometimes the songs devolve into sheer noise and feedback, sometimes an acoustic track emerges, and, most amazingly, Revelator is only 10% wank! There is hope, after all….
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