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Kimmo Pohjonen
Kluster
Rockadillo (www.rockadillo.fi)

cd cover A decade ago, Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen was playing pan-European dance tunes on a Castagnari accordion with the band Ottopassuuna. More recently his forte has been experimental accordion music, transforming sounds from bellows box and his own voice box into semi-abstract landscapes. Here is music broad enough to incorporate images of Finland's Eurometropolis and the suuri metsä (great forest). Erilainen ja mielenkiintoinen! ("Different and interesting!")

Kluster is a studio recorded version of his stage performances. On stage, he plays accordion and not so much sings as makes various noises with his mouth. You can see where the sounds come from, he's tapping on the frame of the box, popping his lips, breathing heavily. The effects are fed into electronic equipment as you and Kimmo stare at each other in the weird lighting, and then, leaving the melodic accordion line true, drummer and electronic sampler Samuli Kosminen transforms the remaining sounds into something very different.

There are a variety of odd things on Kluster, but the craziness is solid, melodic, and based on tradition, though just which tradition may not be clear. On "Ohimo," you hear Arabic/ Moorish exotica on the accordion, castanets tapping, jets buzzing overhead, and a crazy Moorman growling joiks. Big bubbles gurgle, someone shovels coal and hammers iron to a tropical beat, setting the rhythm for generic accordion on "Loska." Raindrops grow heavier and heavier on "Reaktio," with a little steam engine kicking in, then some pretty European chords. Where does it all come from? As in the live performances, it all comes from Pohjonen's accordion and body, to be zapped, sampled, looped, and drummed by Kosminen. But the sounds are hung in space, disembodied from the goofy men on the cover. What will happen next? More general chaos. Snoring. Banshees. Spring. Super bongos. The end of the world.

Needless to say, Kluster is not an album for traditionalists. However, it is such a fine, solid, skillful album and, because it draws on ethnic elements, it will be a joy and delight for more progressive folk enthusiasts and especially for accordion geeks. - Judith Gennett

CD and audio samples available at cdRoots


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