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Kimmo Pohjonen Kalmuk Review

Live. Released 2002.  

BBC Review

Finnish avant-garde accordion player collaberates with full orchestra. Captivating,...

Fiona Talkington 2002

They've called him the "accordion terrorist", the "fearless magician of sound". Reviews of his live gigs comment as much on the astonishing spectacle as they do on the music. But at the heart, at the very foundation of a Kimmo Pohjonen concert with all its electronic wizadry and brilliantly designed lighting, is Kimmo's blazing passion for music itself. It's that unstoppable, whirlwind passion which is behind his latest CD release Kalmuk.

The Kalmuk project was premiered in Helsinki two years ago. I was there, at the city's Savoy Theatre, to witness Kimmo, two rock percussionists and fifteen members of one of Finland's top orchestras, the Tapiola Sinfonietta, take us by storm. These musicians' lives were dominated by the Mozart and Sibelius scores sitting on their music stands.

Kimmo embarked on a project which would force them to throw away the stands, the chairs, to move and to improvise. After all, someone had once done that to him when he turned his back on a career as a classical accordionist, and opted instead for the Folk Music Department of the Sibelius Academy in Helsinki! It was survival of the fittest. It worked! The smiles on the faces of the orchestral players told of their pride. They were no longer doing what someone else had asked, they were doing what they wanted.

The CD is a recording of one of the Helsinki performances in 2000. It needs to be listened to from start to finish, from the gentle, and soon mysterious, curtain raiser track 'Kellua', through the wild and psychedelic 'The Furies'. The final track 'Genesis', with its insistent rhythms and poignant lyricism, will send you hurling through whichever imaginary space your mind has chosen to inhabit.

The music is captivating, shocking, disturbing, invigorating. It exists in a musical world somewhere between classical and avant-garde folk. A unique album from an unique, original talent.

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