Kimmo Pohjonen


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Accordion player Kimmo Pohjonen does not approach folk music the usual way, as he made clear with his debut album, Kielo. Technology is put to great use to empower the accordion with a larger-than-life aura. MIDI effects, real-time treatments, and multi-tracking turn the instrument into a one-man band, with Pohjonen striking it for percussive effects, in addition to singing and growling. The timeless quality of these songs (given their wordless vocals and Scandinavian folk flavor) is not betrayed by the modern technology intimately entwined to them. The liner notes state that nothing but accordion and voice were used (except for harmonium in "Kirkuna"), but that is not always easy to believe, especially in the electronic-heavy "Ammoin," in which digital manipulations produce surprising results. In the more traditional-sounding tunes, Lars Hollmer and Bratko Bibic come to mind, but again the range of effects Pohjonen uses gives him a unique sound palette. Nevertheless, the title track could easily masquerade as a tribute to Hollmer, with its light, slightly sad melody. Elsewhere the music shifts between ambient textures ("Saatto") and frantic, quasi-rock anthems ("Anastaja," "Emboli"). Pohjonen will explore that side of his art more extensively in later albums, but Kielo remains a very strong and unusually mature proposition for a debut. It also remains an excellent entry point into the unique sound world of this Finnish world music star.

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