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7 customer reviews

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Audio CD, February 1, 2011
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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

UNIKO features the Grammy winning Kronos Quartet together with a Finnish duo, accordion adventurer Kimmo Pohjonen and sampling guru Samuli Kosminen. Produced by Iceland's Valgeir Sigurosson, known for his collaboration with Bjork, this album was recorded at Avatar Studios in NYC.
UNIKO was commissioned by Kronos in 2003 and premiered live at the Helsinki Festival in 2004. It has subsequently drawn sellout audiences in Moscow, Molde (Norway), and New York at the 2007 BAM NEXT WAVE Festival. UNIKO is highlighted by Pohjonen's electrified and MIDI-fied accordion with Kosminen's electronic percussion devices which reproduce his own accordion samples and his samples of Kronos' instruments. These samples, together with live strings and electric accordion plus effects and manipulations create a new, multi-dimensional sound world.


Uniko is like an ocean tide coming in. Big waves of sound build in complexity, animation and sometimes sheer frenzy... --The New York Times
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Product Details

  • Performer: David Harrington, John Sherba, Hank Dutt, Jeffrey Zeigler
  • Composer: Kimmo Pohjonen, Samuli Kosminen
  • Audio CD (February 1, 2011)
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Ondine
  • ASIN: B004GX91Q6
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #165,939 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Yanek on March 2, 2011
Format: Audio CD
I was fortunate enough to see a live performance of "UNIKO" on the SkyArts channel a while back, and it caught my attention instantly. The music is indeed truly EPIC!

The Kronos Quartet is a group I was already familiar with, and a fan of their music. On this recording, they are joined by two remarkable musicians from Finland - Kimmo Pohjonen (electro-accordion and voice), and Samuli Kosminen (string and accordion sampling, programming). Kimmo Pohjonen and Samuli Kosminen write all the music on this album.

The Kronos Quartet deserve great credit too for their wonderful performance. There are times when they sound like a full orchestra. It's astonishing. This is difficult music, but in keeping with their reputation, the Kronos Quartet play perfectly. There are also some wild solos too, which sound like Jimi Hendrix! There are many more tender, reflective moments in the music too, which create beauty and balance. This is a brilliant collaboration between fantastic, innovative musicians.

This music is an extraordinary mix of experimental Classical music and modern sampling, which blend seamlessly to produce a unique and breathtaking sound. Samuli samples the accordion and strings, and then plays them on an electronic percussion pad as rhythmic patterns. He also creates more abstract sounds and effects to add even more to the music.

Kimmo Pohjonen is like no other accordion player I have seen! Yes, there is a slight gypsy style in his playing, but he goes much, much further. His accordion playing is amazing. He also incorporates effects into his sounds, which take the familiar sound of "an accordion" into highly experimental territory. Imagine an accordion through a phaser or distortion pedal.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Debra Jan Bibel TOP 500 REVIEWER on March 11, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
Like the Finnish language, this album is truly unique, so different, so foreign or alien, yet we are comforted with references to classical traditions and to various ethnic East European and Central Asian music and, toward the end, some shadowed Siberian forest and its natives. The ever daring Kronos Quartet has teamed with two Finnish musicians and composers: Kimmo Pohjonen, an accordionist who also provides vocals, and Samuli Kosminen, an electronic maven, who created string and accordion samples and programming. You probably have not heard an accordion played in this fashion. It is mysterious, it is atmospheric, it is rhythmic. The electronics are subtle and blend in, contributing to a sonic environment. The album is an adventure. It draws the listener in with its dramatic and cinematographic episodes. It also has broad epic rock touches. I was concerned that as the novelty wears off with repeated listening, the album would be less eluring, captivating, and appreciated; but after three times over a week, I still am enthralled. It is a trip to peculiar lands that offers new insights with each visit. [I have a Finnish album of folk tunes with Pohjonen on accordian, melodeon, harmonica, and Tanzanian thumb piano: Ottopasuuna. Think Scandavian bluegrass. This fellow is talented!] Thus, the album is a dreamscape and fusion of classical, rock, folk, and world music. It is a brilliant sonic invention that will amaze.
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12 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Sarynka on September 29, 2011
Format: Audio CD
It really is a crime that there aren't more artists like the Kronos Quartet out there today. Uniko is a fantastic album, and really shows the evolution of classical music beyond the modern era and into the 21st century. Its sound isn't for everyone, and borders on the overtly progressive. However, it creates atmospheres that are supremely intriguing at all times. I found myself listening to their pieces and really...thinking. It's not an album I could relax to, but at the same time, that's why I like it. It expects a bit more of its listeners, and for those willing to traverse the divide, it rewards them brilliantly.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Hank Napkin on October 26, 2011
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
I had the good fortune to be assigned to review some of Pohjonen's earlier works for (now out of publication) Darren Bergstein's EI Magazine several years ago. Needless to say, the work was as remarkable then as now. Relentlessly inventive, splendid in violent and sudden contrasts, logical as well as unpredictable shifts, Pohjonen is equally at home with anything and everything sound encompasses: the exploration of timbres, time, pitches, silences and staggeringly dense walls of sound made into a seamless and terrifyingly present whole. Uniko seems a sort of culmination of controlled furies and unmentionable delicacies. The posture and often even the tonality call to mind some perhaps unexpected likenesses with the more incandescent instants from the very creamy center of the progressive rock days: flashes of Tony Hill's High Tide finding receptors between the uneven measures of Larks' Tongues in Aspic Part I. While both stand somewhere in the shadows of this monumentally complex and exhilarating recording, the defining trait is simple enough: moving from rock to art music is perhaps a less profound path than the opposite. Uniko isn't just a bridge between the profound intelligence of the classical world and the sometimes ragged emotional edges of the progressive rock aesthetic: it's a continent of unlimited horizons and, until this moment, unknowable terrain.
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