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8 Armed Monkey

3.7 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

KTU, headed by accordion visionary Kimmo Pohjonen, and accompanied by the rhythm
section of King Crimson, is an exploration in musicianship, melding sounds and elements
from the past and the future. Employing ancient and modern approaches to the
musical craft, this record is full of surprises. 8 armed monkey is a presentation of a
truly creative and provocative collaboration that is a rarity in todays musical world.

Review

Anyone who'switnessed Kimmo Pohjonen - often lazily referred top as Finland's Hendrix of the accordion - will attest to his power to shock. His performances are equal parts art installation, virtuoso showcase and shamanistic ritual: Brooding, muttering hypnotic maelstroms that conjur up Jungian memory and dread in spades. So how does this translate into the two-dimensional world of the CD? Previous recorded work, while undeniably fearsome, has tended to leave you with a feeling that only with the aid of a DVD player would you get the full picture. However KTU's 8 Armed Monkey has no such shortcomings.

Working with sampler Samuli Kosminen and King Crimson rhythm buddies, Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn, it appears that a more democratic approach has broadened Kimmo's palette accordi(o)ngly. This album contains noises that no simple squeezebox was ever meant to make! Recorded in Japan, Monkey...bubbles with menace (especially on Pohjonen's solo composition ''Optikus'') while retaining a digital clarity that allows Gunn's soaring Warr guitar lines to add a new level of yearning sadness. Pohjonen's very personal brand of voodoo really benefits from such a setting. Maybe the world is finally ready for Finnish prog-folk! --BBC Music

It's a rare day indeed when you can say that you've heard some of the most spectacular accordion playing ever. It's even more rare when the accordion ventures into avant-garde territory. Prepare for the wind to be squeezed out of you by the most unlikely of sources.KTU (pronounced kay-two), composed of TU and King Crimson comrades Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto and Kluster's Samuli Kosminen and accordion ace Kimmo Pohjonen, explores prog-rock with the most worldly of intentions. The resulting output is anything but classifiable; KTU's breathtaking music transcends a variety of genres, snugly defining its own unique role in the annals of experimental rock.

8 Armed Monkey's heart is its elaborate instrumentation. Gunn and Mastelotto are the rhythm section, but not in the traditional bass and drums approach. Gunn is a master of the Warr guitar, an instrument that can boast as many as fourteen strings and is played by tapping rather than picking. As only one finger is needed to generate a note, multiple parts can be played simultaneously, enabling Gunn to be both a guitarist and bassist, unleashing a rich selection of effected notes. Mastelotto's precision drumming is influenced by tribal sounds, with nods to Asian inflections and non-Western rhythms. He's as likely to strike a cymbal as he is to hit a key on his computer, creating an interesting dynamic between analog and digital percussion.

The other half of the quartet isn't so much a combination of lead instruments as it is a mixture of traditional and unconventional components. Kimmo Pohjonen's sensationally sinister accordion-work plays off the TU rhythm section, combining elements of conventional Finnish folk with sequences of wildly adventurous improvisation. Electronic sound manipulator Samuli Kosminen regularly grabs live samples of Pohjonen's accordion and twists, toys and mimics his tones, adding his own electro-exploitation along the way. It's a tricky formula to fathom, much less calculate, but KTU's roster of seasoned musicians pieces it all together.
"Sumu" is the most unlikely of openers. A faintly threatening but almost anti-climactic hum reverberates as the cackling Warr guitar is heard in the distance. Eventually, the accordion sweeps in like a pterodactyl and the rest of the instruments begin speaking to one another in prehistoric parlance. Pohjonen's voice is sampled -- he sounds like a Tibetan monk who's found diabolical inspiration. "Keho" shares many of "Sumu"'s traits, most notably its guttural vocals (spoken, not sung) and the heavy throbbing of low-end notes.

If "Keho" and "Sumu" are brothers, then "Optikus" and "Absinthe" are the disc's evil twins. "Optikus" is outrageously upbeat, with heavy tribal drumming and exclamatory accordion streaks. Gunn wreaks havoc with his methodically played notes, while the chorus sounds as if you've suddenly been transported into the middle of a Sufi ritual at its most harried moment.

It's "Absinthe" that exemplifies everything experimental, progressive and truly extraordinary about KTU. A repetitive vocal sample brings to mind the soulful singing of Egyptian icon Oum Kaltsoum; it's later replaced by Pohjonen's accordion, as he invokes the spirit of Astor Piazzolla. A percussive break sounds something like a digitized Gamelan ceremony -- the thick notes of Gunn's guitar pulse like the ticks of a train on its tracks, acting as one of the only constants to this ever-changing, organic creation. It's amazingly complex, but remarkably convincing and captivating; KTU never bet --Splendid

KTU (pronounced K2") are a quartet of devilishly integrated halves: avant-accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen and digital manipulator Samuli Kosminen from Finland, and drummer Pat Mastelotto and guitarist Trey Gunn from King Crimson. Their debut 8 Armed Monkey , recorded live in 2004, is a robust tumult of Northern Lights sparkle, white-wolf guitar wail and rolling knotted thunder. Pohjonen is a wonder unto himself: animating his wind song with pedals and processing; attacking the bellows with the ecstatic fury of Jimi Hendrix. When I saw KTU play in Europe recently, they were as powerful and transgressive as the current killer Crimson (without, of course, Robert Fripp). But I was stunned to discover, after the show, that KTU have yet to get an American gig, because, Gunn said, promoters are afraid of the word "accordion". People, look at it this way: Pohjonen plays the ultimate in air guitar. Now hit the phone. --Rolling Stone (Fricke's Picks)
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Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 27, 2005)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Thirsty Ear
  • ASIN: B000AMJDFQ
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #592,166 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

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By Juan F. Masse Torres on July 27, 2007
Format: Audio CD
The real 8 armed monkey is the monster rhythm section: Gunn as a humble but absolutely brilliant virtuoso brain and Masteloto setting new standards for drummers. Pohjonen is one of the most pleasant surprises I've ever had in my life. I saw KTU in concert here in Mexico City and Kimmo almost brought me to tears in one of the songs. One wishes that this music could last forever...
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Disappointing to say the least.
I would recommend fans to watch the band on You Tube rather than waste their money on this disc.
Doesn't reflect the professional talent of ANY of the members of the band.
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If you know Trey Gunn, it is likely from his stint in King Crimson as Warr Guitar player. And if you know that much, you know he is a virtuoso player who fits easily in that sky-high major league which includes people like Robert Fripp, Adrian Belew, Tony Levin, Bill Bruford and on and on. KTU (pronounced K2, like the mountain), is a bit out there musically. Think about some of King Crimson's more adventurous material--side two of "Three of A Perfect Pair" being a good example. Now imagine it played by Gunn along with Pat Mastelato, Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen. As Wikipedia explains, "Kimmo and Samuli formed Kluster in 2001. Both award-winning musicians are known as adventurers in their respective fields and their partnership takes accordion music to new and unexplored territory. On stage, Kosminen reproduces samples of Pohjonen's accordion and voice percussively by way of electronic drum pads. Samuli also drums with Icelandic band MUM, and other recent Kluster collaborations include Uniko and the Kronos Quartet". So this music is not for the musically timid, but for those who like some adventure, strap in and hang on. This is great stuff.
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