Finland has long been the promised land for long hair and heavy rock music, however jazz has it’s own place here too! Then again maybe jazz is just the general name we give to music we can’t quite classify. And the original soundscapes brought forth by guitarist Heikki Ruokangas are just that; hard to classify. In Ruokangas’ creations, elements of jazz meld together with the strums and tweaks of modern classic guitars to create an aggressive medley of sound. The end result is a skillful and intense break from traditional guitar song.
Ruokangas’ music is not made for the masses, nor does it climb charts. Instead it draws in a specific crowd who delight on small, yet new and surprising experiences. The gig venues are also not cut from the traditional cloth, as they vary from restaurants and living rooms, to country festivals, lighthouses, and even to a lined car parking spot in an underground parking garage.
A joint tour with Danish guitarist Alex Jønsson has reached Finland, Denmark and Estonia. The duo’s sounds merge together in controlled techniques and improvisation, in tenderness and brutality, and in the beautiful and the ugly. Heikki’s aggresive form perfectly complements Alex’s tender tunes forming a unique unison of the two guitarists.
Hailing from Oulu, Ruokangas has amassed international acclaim with his uncompromising style. He won’t be filling up roaring arenas any time soon, yet that’s not the point either. Ruokangas’ approach is characterised with a deep rooted determination from the North and a focus on creation itself. A Danish member of the audience comments in the film on Heikki’s music; “it’s challenging, it’s different, it’s beautiful.” A note from Oulu, said with a particular regional twang, is even more concise: “It was peculiar, but not bad.”
Tape Riihimäki (Translation: Lydia Taylerson)