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6 Reviews
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Truly Epic!, March 2, 2011
By 
Yanek (GLASGOW, Scotland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Uniko (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. He is also an extremely emotive musician - whether while playing electro-accordion or using his voice as an instrument. His solos are dramatic and edgy.

The audio quality of this CD is excellent, and through a good hi-fi, there is so much going on. Even although I watched a live performance of this work, this album continues to reveal so much more. It is impossible to categorize this music, but if you like something different and adventurous, then I recommend this album highly. "UNIKO" is a beautiful piece of music. It would be even better to see it played live. It would be an awesome audio-visual experience, completely overwhelming the senses. This is a magnificent musical "adventure".
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Visit to a Strange Land, March 11, 2011
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This review is from: Uniko (Audio CD)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars Infinitely Fascinating, September 29, 2011
This review is from: Uniko (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
5.0 out of 5 stars BEAUTY WILL BE CONVULSIVE, OR IT WILL NOT BE AT ALL, October 26, 2011
By 
Hank Napkin (Makawao, Hawaii United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Uniko (Audio CD)
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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9 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very pretty - but..., November 18, 2011
This review is from: Uniko (Audio CD)
There is famous remark somewhere criticizing Mozart for his good taste. It's unfair about Mozart, but it applies a bit to this, which is in every respect impeccable - I suspect I'll listen to it a lot, and enjoy it. But, you know, impeccability can be a problem: a faintly oppressive air of good taste hangs about Uniko (starting with the cover) that somehow pulls it back into the domain of up-market chill-out music in the end (a bit like Floodplain). Very up-market chill-out, but still.

Nevertheless, for Sunday afternoons, you could do a lot worse.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, November 20, 2014
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This review is from: Uniko (Audio CD)
Amazing.
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Uniko
Uniko by Kronos Quartet (Audio CD - 2011)
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