(All Album Reviews by Vinylroolz)
KTU (pronounced "K2") is a double duo project comprised of K (a.k.a. Kluster, the Finnish duo of Kimmo Pohjonen on accordion and voices, and Samuli Kosminen on samples) and TU (Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto from King Crimson). This album was multi-track recorded during several concerts during 2004, then mixed and edited for this release.
Pohjonen's idea was to experiment with the double duo format as well as combine traditional, modern and tribal elements to produce something new and unique. The result is an adventurous, sometimes cacophonous set of experimental music.
The first two tracks are composed by Pohjonen and the third by Pohjonen & Kosminen. While much of the music on these three tracks contain melody and sustained rhythms, there's also quite a bit of an ambient feel along with tribal soundscapes. It's dense, busy and sample-heavy. Pohjonen's accordion playing (straight, treated and/or sampled) dominates, and he's an absolute master of the instrument. Kosminen's sampling array (voices, instruments and sounds of all types) provides the depth and atmosphere. Gunn and Mastelotto provide a solid rhythmic duo counterpart.
The fourth track, written by Gunn and Mastelotto, leans toward the more conventional, as might be expected. Their duo takes the forefront, starting out bass-heavy with a strong beat while the accordion, voices and samples wail away on top. If I can provide anything close to a reference point, try "Magma Meets Eno & Byrne", although that's a bit simplistic. This track evolves/dissolves into more tribal adventurism with tuned percussion and wild samples before returning briefly to the starting point.
The final track is a ten minute collaboration/improvisation which stays firmly in the ambient realm. Sampled spoken word parts share space alternately with Gunn's treated guitar, Pohjonen's accordion and Mastelotto's tuned percussion instruments. Add a two-note droning, haunting bass figure and all manner of sampled sound sprinklings, and you have one very spacey number.
8 Armed Monkey is a very interesting, if somewhat difficult, listen. This is not background music. This is a set of works that makes you pay attention to everything that's going on (and there's a lot going on) in order to appreciate what they're doing. Coming in at a little over 43 minutes, the listener is worn out by the end, but in a good way.
Looking for something different? Challenging? Look no further. This experiment is a stunning success.