La Scena Musicale

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Kimmo Pohjonen/Samuli Kosminen: Uniko

Kimmo Pohjonen, accordion & voice; Samuli Kosminen, string & accordion samples, programming; Kronos Quartet (David Harrington, John Sherba, violins; Hank Dutt, viola; Jeffrey Ziegler, cello)

Ondine ODE 1185-2 (51 min 49 s)

***

Here’s a neat lesson in brand name recognition and the advantage of a dedicated fan base. The cover of this album is dark blackish brown with red streaks. The title and artists are given in tiny letters and it is necessary to look into the booklet to establish Pohjonen’s and Kosminen’s claim to composition and arrangement of the music (a commission for Kronos). Aside from credits and acknowledgements, the data sheet is no more informative than Pohjonen’s website. What (or who) is Uniko other than an international manufacturer of something?

The cultural drift of the 21st century seems in large part to be devoted to refuting Rudyard Kipling’s dictum that “East is east and west is west and never the twain shall meet.” Uniko is an occident-orient express that crashes through all the barriers. Grasping for a comparative, it suddenly occurs and the composers have been listening to the soundtracks created by Goran Bregović for the fabulous films of Emir Kusterica. The similar fusion of computer and instruments and the driving rhythms are indeed suggestive of the Balkan Peninsula. Whether or not that’s what the composers intended, some wizard string playing emerges from the electronic backup. Cross-under concept notwithstanding, this is bracing music. Heartily recommended to Kronosaurs everywhere.

- Stephen Habington

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