for accordion, voice, string quartet, and accordion and string samples
Kronos Quartet • Kimmo Pohjonen • Samuli Kosminen
All music composed by Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen.
More information about the album UNIKO can be found here.
UNIKO is the collaboration between the Kronos Quartet and Finnish duo, accordion adventurer Kimmo Pohjonen and sampling guru Samuli Kosminen. Commissioned by Kronos, UNIKO received its world premiere at the Helsinki Festival in 2004, with additional performances in Moscow, Molde (Norway) and in New York at the 2007 BAM NEXT WAVE Festival with three sold out performances. The album was recorded at Avatar Studios in NYC following the BAM concerts. Producer is Iceland’s Valgeir Sigurðsson, known for his work with Björk and other outstanding, adventurous artists.
UNIKO is highlighted by Pohjonen’s electrified and MIDI-fied accordion with Kosminen’s electronic percussion devices which reproduce his own accordion samples and his samples of Kronos’ instruments. These samples, together with live strings and electric accordion plus effects and manipulations create a new, multi-dimensional sound world.
Kimmo Pohjonen (b. 1964) and Samuli Kosminen (b. 1974)
About Uniko, Pohjonen and Kosminen write:
“The Uniko composition was commissioned from us for the Kronos Quartet. It was composed over an eighteen-month period before the Uniko world premiere in Helsinki in September 2004. Uniko is comprised of seven sections, connected thematically to the Uniko concept, the title of which is loosely connected to the concept of dreams. There are several ideas behind the creation of Uniko.
“First, we wanted to explore further the new and many possible sounds from the combination of accordion, accordion samples, strings, string samples and surround sound. This was virgin territory as far as we knew, and we were excited about what could be achieved with these combined elements.
“Second, we as a duo had many ideas for new pieces, melodies we wanted to develop in a new format such as this. The arrangements for these melodies were something we also very much wanted to do as an extension of our Kluster duo work, which involves accordion and accordion samples.
“Third, we wanted to ‘electrify’ the sound of the string quartet and explore the possibilities of manipulating it electronically with live looping, etc, expanding the scope of the quartet sound.
“Fourth, we wanted to further explore the visual part of our performances with light and video directors. The visual images are always a very important part of our concerts and we wanted to take them several steps further.
“Finally, we also wanted to try and reach a new level of emotional content with Uniko as a work of music. It was very important for us to create something stimulating and emotionally charged, to take the listener, as well as ourselves on an adventure. I hope we have succeeded in our goals. At least it has been great fun putting it together and performing it with the Kronos Quartet.”
Playing since age ten, Finnish accordion adventurer Kimmo Pohjonen has worked in rock, folk, theatre, dance, classical, improvisational and avant-garde music groups and ensembles for over three decades. For over fifteen years, his singular mission has been to expand and reinvent accordion sounds, composition and performance. He records and performs with his own custom-created electrified and MIDI-fied accordion alongside a rack with sampler and a multitude of effects plus surround sound and specially designed lighting on stage. He has released six albums, is constantly in great demand and firmly established as one of Finland’s most active and important musicians. His music has been called: “a riveting musical and surreal theatrical experience, a multi-dimensional display of totally original, astonishingly eccentric, and unabashedly uncompromising artistic genius.” (Jazzhouse)
Pohjonen is involved in many projects and ensembles: Kluster duo with Samuli Kosminen released two albums and toured the UK with Tapiola Sinfonietta for the Kalmuk Symphony program.Trio KTU features Pohjonen with King Crimson’s Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn (originally a quartet with Samuli Kosminen). Pohjonen’s Earth Machine Music features live electronic accordion performances with local farmers and their machines, successfully touring in UK and Australia. He works with visual performance artist Ville Walo in the project Iron Lung also with Finnish trio K Cube and in an improvisational duo with French drummer, Eric Echampard. Pohjonen currently also works with Finland’s Proton String Quartet. Pohjonen enjoys a high profile in UK with performances at The Proms at Royal Albert Hall London, Jazz Festival at the Barbican, Queen Elizabeth Hall, David Bowie’s Meltdown Festival and Patti Smith’s Meltdown at Royal Festival Hall 2005. He as also appeared on the TV program Later with Jools.
Pohjonen has composed music for the Finnish dance performance Hardcore Humppa by choreographer Harri Kuorelahti with the Helsinki Dance Company. He has composed music for the Swedish choreographer Lisa Torun and has collaborated with dancers /choreographers Tero Saarinen and Carolyn Carlson. Finnish choreographer Jorma Uotinen directed the Finnish National Opera Ballet performing Pohjonen’s Kielo music at Helsinki‘s National Opera House and in Netherlands and Australia with local dance companies. Pohjonen has also composed music for Finnish, Russian and British films. Pohjonen and Kosminen composed music for the Finnish / Chinese feature film Jade Warrior, the score of which won the Finnish Jussi Award “Best Film Score” prize of 2005.
Kimmo Pohjonen has received two consecutive five year artist grants from the Finnish state. He was Named “Accordionist of the Year” for 2000 and 2001 in Finnish Jazz magazine Jazz Rytmit and received the Nordic Council Music Award. Pohjonen was nominated for BBC Radio 3 World Music Awards in 2002 and again in 2005 for the BBC Radio 3 Planet Award.
Pohjonen’s most recent project is Accordion Wrestling, a music, sport, theatre, dance, performance art spectacle featuring ten Finnish wrestlers and surround audio with video. Accordion Wrestling was performed in Finland and St. Petersburg in 2010 and will be performed in Hamburg in February 2011. It will mutate into a new production, Battle 2011, featuring the K Cube trio and Proton String Quartet and will premiere at the Turku Cultural Capitol events in Turku, Finland, August 31-Sept 3, 2011. Also in production is a documentary film about Kimmo Pohjonen, to premiere in May, 2011.
Samuli Kosminen is one of Finland’s top percussionists and sampling masters. As a drummer, percussionist, composer and producer, Kosminen has collaborated with a gargantuan array of Finnish and foreign rock, pop, jazz and electronic music artists such as Kronos Quartet (USA), Valgeir Sigurðsson (ICE), Jónsi (from Sigur Rós, ICE), KTU (USA-Finland), Emiliana Torrini (ICE) and many others. For the past decade his main collaborators have been Icelandic band Múm and Kimmo Pohjonen. As the Kluster duo with Pohjonen, they have performed in Europe, America and Japan including David Bowie’s Meltdown festival in London and Carnegie Hall in NYC. The Pohjonen / Kosminen duo were one half of the original KTU band with Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto (King Crimson) and they composed the award winning Jade Warrior film-score. With Múm, he has toured Europe, America, Australia and Japan and recorded four albums. Kosminen is currently working on his solo project. Originally a drummer, now an explorer of flea-market percussion, beat devices, melody-making toys, clonky/clunky machines and tuneful data processors, Kosminen has discovered strange, new dimensions of rhythm and sound.
“ The music is sheer physicality”… ”Uniko” is like an ocean tide coming in. Big waves of sound build in complexity, animation and sometimes sheer frenzy, then abruptly retreat into small lyrical moments, amplified pizzicatos or buzzings by some huge and imaginary insect. Mr. Pohjonen, a virtuoso on an accordion wired for sound, guided things along and became so excited at the end that one worried about his well-being. ”
- Bernard Holland, New York Times
“ Imagine that Phil Spector exploded over the North Atlantic and sent a 90-foot wall of sound hurtling toward Brooklyn. ”
- Jerry Bowles, Sequenza 21
“ Uniko is many things. It is sprawling, cerebral, touching, unpredictable, and even intense at times. This is music that somehow corrals all the right adjectives yet conveniently avoids a genre label...it's just plain great. ”
- John Garratt, Pop Matters
“ This fascinating combination sounds like what Philip Glass, Astor Piazzolla, and DJ Shadow might have come up with if they found themselves in an elevator together...all in all a wonderfully cohesive collision of ideas, processes, and influences. ”
- Matt Hill, The Northern Rivers Echo
For the Kimmo Pohjonen Kluster:
Heikki Iso-Ahola - surround sound design
Ville Kauhanen - monitor mixing
Mikki Kunttu - light choreographics
Antti Kuivalainen - live video mix
Phillip Page - Kluster management
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