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Thursday, March 22, 2012

Bogdo Ula - Prisoners of Freedom (self-released, 2011) ****

Somewhat reminiscent of Terje Rypdal's more rock oriented work, the Finnish power trio Bogdo Ula creates soaring sonic tapestries that showcase the power of near telepathic interplay. Entirely based on group improvisation, the trio works so well together that they create spontaneous music that could very well pass for composed songs.

Throughout, guitarist Samuli Kristian spins a rich blend of searing melodic leads and dense angular harmonies. While the melodies ride, drive and collide with the rhythm generating friction and intensity, his electric guitar shimmers and glides, filling an immense amount of space. Co-creators Drummer Ivan Horder and bassist Jean Ruin are each just as responsible for the energy and textures that emerge from these soundscapes. The songs often can conjure mental images akin to the majesty and distance embodied on the album's cover image of deep blue tinged mountains in the clouds.

Though some of Rypdal's work (in particular his output with the Chasers in the early 1980s) is a point of reference, 'Prisoners of Freedom' has very much its own sound. On the opening 'Lava Flow' and the following 'Songs from the Moonbog', the interplay is instantaneous and tight and the collective sense of melody is uncanny. Eschewing the majestic leads of the aforementioned songs, 'My Heart is On My Sleeve' is a real highlight. The song builds with actions and reactions between the musicians. Fleet runs on the fretboard and brief chordal accents are held together captivatingly by the rhythm section.

The group sticks to a DIY approach, selling their music via iTunes, eMusic and CDBaby (check their website for links). They have several albums currently available, and it seems that it was only recently, on the previous album 'Charge', that they brought in Ruin on bass. Though a little more on the rock end of the spectrum, appreciators of harder edged jazz-rock like Scorch Trio or Blixt should check it out.

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© stef