Finnish accordion player Kimmo Pohjonen's compositions tend to lead him into ecstacy and a wild, orgiastic release. Pohjonen usually starts playing sitting, as calm as if he was tranquilized by shamanic medicine, but soon he surrenders to flushes of musical energy that hit him and push him into a twisted dance that challenges his huge accordion, until the inevitable climax. The same scenario repeats with each of Pohjonen's projectssolo, the Kluster duo with percussionist and sampling genius Samuli Kosminen, his Kamluk project with the Tapiola Sinfonietta, his duo with French drummer Eric Echampard, and on his new disc, 8 Armed Monkey, with the double duo named KTU, comprised of Kluster plus TU (Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn from King Crimson).
KTU offers Pohjonen, the undisputed leader of this outfit, a much denser and more multilayered rhythmic palette than he has encountered on previous projects. Kosminen includes some imaginative and innovative samples, especially the vocals on "Optikus" and "Absinthe" that contend with Pohjonen's guttural growls. Gunn's Warr guitar functions as an intricate choir of basses that solidify the textures, and Mastelotto's drums stress the grooves.
With such an enveloping rhythm section, Pohjonen's demonic onslaughts get closer to the musical universe of another sound sorcerer, King Crimson's Robert Fripp, and bring him full circle to where this project began. Six years ago the seeds for KTU took root while Pohjonen played with Fripp in Texas, when he shared a bill with Mastelotto/Gunn/Fripp's Project Three, but it took KTU another five years to release its first disc.
The five tracks on 8 Armed Monkey present KTU in different moods and sonic excursions. The opening track, "Sumu," suggests the dark atmosphere of this release. "Optikus," with Gunn's distorted, funky churning and Pohjonen's ecstatic solo, is the best track. Kosminen's samples outline the minimalist and mysterious "Sineen," and the collectively improvised "Absinthe" sounds like it's part of King Crimson's late-'90s repertoire. The concluding track, "Keho," is a slow and dark piece. 8 Armed Monkey offers an intense ride that simultaneously resembles a simple, ancient, shamanistic ritual and a futuristic soundscape, overloaded with disturbing and tempting information.
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