Kimmo Pohjonen: Soundbreaker

Nenad Georgievski By

Sign in to view read count
Kimmo Pohjonen


Koskela Art and Media


In the hands of avant-accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen, the mechanical intricacies of his instrument become agents of a great musical power, grace and expression. An instrumental virtuoso, Pohjonen has exploited the complete potential of the keys, buttons, and air beneath his fingers by stretching both his instrument and personal performance capabilities. He has been stretching boundaries and defying expectations for more than a decade, with mind-blowing concepts and visual performances. As a fearless adventurer in music, he remains doggedly unaffiliated to any scene, trend or ethos. Directed by Finnish director Kimmo Koskela, Soundbreaker presents an interesting portrait of this exceptional artist by portraying his trajectory from minor folk artist to renowned avant-garde musician and conceptualist.

Soundbreaker is not just a documentary that shows Pohjonen's biography from A to Z; it is a travelogue of both time and space. It is also a visual feast in the same manner as are his many concerts. Pohjonen is a renegade; an uncompromising artist who ventures into types of music that excite him, by his own admission his first years with the accordion found him in a dull and uninteresting position. In the '70s, when he began playing, the accordion was, in his eyes, a very un-cool instrument played by his dad. So for the first 20 years he bore the stigma of being an accordionist, including the time when he studied classical music. It took him that many years to come to terms with the instrument, what it represents and what he could do with it. But the quest for his own identity and sound has helped him: first, for himself, to discover how exciting and cool this instrument can be; and then, by showing it to the world. He achieved this through improvisation, and also through modifying the instrument and expanding its capabilities with various electronics, while simultaneously introducing all kinds of theatrical elements including lighting and sound effects.

Sometimes, it is mind-shattering what he does with his accordion, and sometimes he does it to the point of sacrilege. One of the projects/performances shown here is Earth Machine Music, a performance that samples farmyard noises—including animals, tractors and machines—through the accordion. There's humor sparkled throughout, especially when the voiceover reads what students of classical music shouldn't be doing with the accordion, against a very humorously animated intermezzo.

Pohjonen is an adventurer, and he regularly takes his instrument into directions and contexts for which it was never envisioned. The number of projects he has immersed himself is vast: KTU, with ex-King Crimson drummer Pat Mastelotto and Warr guitarist/bassist Trey Gunn; Accordion Wrestling, a show with choreographed wrestlers against the backdrop of Pohjonen's accordion sounds; and the famed collaboration with Kronos Quartet, Uniko (Ondine, 2011), a very unique sounding masterpiece.

The film, much like Pohjonen's career, hops from place to place and from project to project with spirit and ambition, and offers a unique glimpse into the workings of one of today's most interesting artists and mavericks.

Post a comment



View events near Helsinki
Jazz Near Helsinki
Events Guide | Venue Guide | Get App | More...

Shop Amazon


Interview with Lynyrd Skynyrd: Live At Knebworth '76
Interview with Buster Williams: Bass to Infinity
Interview with Sylvie's Love
Film Review
Sylvie's Love
Interview with Billie
Film Review
Interview with Never Too Late: The Doc Severinsen Story
Interview with Zappa
Film Review
Interview with Ronnie Wood:  Somebody Up There Likes Me


Read Tony Bennett: A Hero's Journey in Authenticity
Beauty, Love and Justice: Living A Coltranian Life
Tony Bennett: A Hero's Journey in Authenticity
Read Steve Reich: Humans Love to See Other Humans Play Music
Read Top Jazz-Rock Fusion Recordings
Read Joe Lovano: Finding New Adventures
Read Dean Brown: Global Fusion on Acid
Read Instrumental Duos
Building a Jazz Library
Instrumental Duos

All About Jazz needs your support

All About Jazz & Jazz Near You were built to promote jazz music: both recorded albums and live events. We rely primarily on venues, festivals and musicians to promote their events through our platform. With club closures, limited reopenings and an uncertain future, we've pivoted our platform to collect, promote and broadcast livestream concerts to support our jazz musician friends. This is a significant but neccesary step that will help musicians and venues now, and in the future. You can help offset the cost of this essential undertaking by making a donation today. In return, we'll deliver an ad-free experience (which includes hiding the sticky footer ad). Thank you!

Get more of a good thing

Our weekly newsletter highlights our top stories and includes your local jazz events calendar.