Kimmo Pohjonen: Kluster (2002)
You know that old accordion your grandfather has sitting around from his days in the Old Milwaukee Polka Band? Well, Kimmo Pohjonen has dragged it from the attic, dusted it off, hooked it up to a Fender tube amp and proceeded to pull, push, pound, scrape and bend every note conceivable from it. Pohjonen hails from Finland, but he travels far beyond the borders of Finnish folk music. With the help of Samuli Kosminen, who samples and then processes Pohjonen's voice and accordion, the pair creates an intoxicating explosion of sound, rhythm and texture.
Kluster sounds like a message from the underworld, and Pohjonen the possessed messenger. The deep throaty growls of "Alla" are a demon waking from a deep slumber. The fractured crackling, popping and scraping of "Loska" is a computer gasping its last. Pohjonen creates tactile tones, tormented screams, and relentless beats; his moaning conjures up holy-rollers speaking in tongues. His music bursts with life, as if everything material had gained a soul. "Reaktio" breathes and boils, transmitting what you would hear if someone stuck a microphone into the heart of a fire.
Yet every sound on the album is produced by Pohjonen's five-row chromatic accordion and his voice. Kosminen runs the beats and riffs through an effects processor and electronic drum pad, then augments them into dense structures. Kluster bristles with meticulous detail, but it is not just a product of studio wizardry. Live they employ the same methods to improvise shows that have astounded audiences and critics worldwide. Pohjonen describes his performances as being "like one painting with many colors." Extending his statement, it explains why their arrangments on Kluster often follow the same pattern. Yet this sameness by no means detracts from the music. Pohjonen and Kosminen remain constantly inventive and they infuse every piece with urgent, primal energy.
Their energy never wanes because above all Pohjonen believes in the rhythm. Melodic phrases, ambient colorings and percussive devices are lavishly layered towards one goal: complete, ecstatic abandonment in rhythm. Perhaps that is why his aesthetic resembles the dynamics of club music, all the time stoking the energy level higher and higher. "Keko" starts with a distant tapping. Pohjonen adds a pulsating riff which is soon joined by a sweeping gesture from the bellows. The song continues its irresistible journey upwards, gathering tension as it grows.
Pohjonen masterfully harnesses kinetic energy into dynamic compositions that become more compelling with each listening. Play this record at high volumes or soak up its texture on headphones. Either way pulls you into an aberrant, visceral and wicked underworld of sound.
Track Listing: 1.ulaani 2.ohimo 3.loska 4.keko 5.reaktio 6.aroma 7.kaluaja 8.alla 9.voima 10.avanto
Personnel: Kimmo Pohjonen-accordion, voice Samuli Kosminen-accordion samples, voice samples