“Pulverising avalanche of dark, primeval, sonic theatre.” (Sydney Morning Herald, Sydney Festival)
Finnish accordion adventurist Kimmo Pohjonen has revolutionized accordion music, sound and performance with an international career going back to the mid 1990s. Pohjonen has developed his own custom made electrified instrument that includes effects, MIDI and other electronics. His recordings feature dynamic compositions with bold, new and awe-inspiring accordion sounds while his performances feature surround sound and light show combined to make a unique and captivating experience.
His latest album Sensitive Skin (Octopus / Ondine, 2015) with all new Pohjonen compositions features special guests Tuomas Norvio (electronics), Kronos Quartet (string quartet), Samuli Kosminen (drums, percussion), Timo Kämäräinen (guitar, bouzouki), Sami Kuoppamäki (drums), Inka and Saana Pohjonen (vocals), Arto Järvelä (nyckelharpa), Ismo Alanko (vocals), Lauri Porra (bass), Timo Alakotila (Kronos arrangements) and more. The album was produced and mixed by James Spectrum, known for productions with Finnish bands Von Hertzen Brothers and Pepe Deluxe. Sensitive Skin was Number One on the World Music Charts Europe (WMCE) for two months and remained in the top five for a total of five months. It was “Top of the World” pick in Songlines magazine receiving a five***** star review and won the Finnish EMMA award for the Best Album of 2015 in the “Etno” category. Sensitive Skin was also released on vinyl by Svart Records. The Skin album follows the highly successful Uniko album (Ondine, 2007) by Pohjonen, Kronos Quartet and Samuli Kosminen which reached Number Two on the World Music Charts.
Kimmo Pohjonen’s recent projects include Ultra Organ, commissioned by Köln Philharmonie. Co-composer is Tuomas Norvio with arrangements by Pohjonen, organist Mikko Helenius and sound designer Norvio. For Ultra Organ, Pohjonen has invented a totally new instrument whereby the organ sounds are re-created electronically through his accordion. Ultra Organ was premiered at Köln Philharmonie in 2017 and was performed in 2018 at Elbphilharmonie, Hamburg.
Pohjonen Alanko is a new trio project with well-known vocalist Ismo Alanko and electronics creator Tuomas Norvio. Their debut recording Northern Lowland is a vinyl-only EP released in April 2018 by Svart Records of Finland. The trio’s focus is vocal experimentation and excursions and features third team member Tuomas Norvio on electronics and samples. Pohjonen Alanko have toured in Finland and performed in Netherlands and at Tallinn Music Week 2018.
Pohjonen and world renowned dancer/choreographer Tero Saarinen premiered their new work Breath in Canada in April 2018 with six performances in Quebec and Montreal. The Finnish premiere is May 12, 2018 at Tampere-talo in Tampere. Live music, dance and visuals intertwine to create wild forms and mythical images – infused with Beckett-inspired existentialism and absurd humour. Bessie-award winning Mikki Kunttu is behind the lighting and set design, and the costumes are by fashion designer Teemu Muurimäki.
Pohjonen performs worldwide as solo artist and in many ensembles and projects such as Kimmo Pohjonen Skin trio with Inka Pohjonen and Saana Pohjonen, Uniko with Kronos Quartet or Proton String Quartet, KTU with Trey Gunn and Pat Mastelotto (of King Crimson), Bright Shadow with Finnish ballet dancer Minna Tervamäki, Pohjonen Alanko, Breath with Tero Saarinen, Uumen with French drummer Eric Echampard, Murder Ballads with Heikki Laitinen, Accordion Wrestling, Earth Machine Music and more. Pohjonen has performed over one thousand concerts at some of the world’s most prestigious concert halls and festivals including David Bowie’s Meltdown and Patti Smith’s Meltdown (London) The Proms at Royal Albert Hall, The Barbican in London, London Jazz Festival, Lincoln Centre and Carnegie Hall in New York plus Köln Philhamonie, Elbphilharmonie, Roskilde Festival, WOMAD festivals, Colours of Osrava, Saalfelden Austria, Aperitivo in Concerto in Milan, Katowice Jazz Art, Copenhagen Jazz and more.
The documentary film about Pohjonen, Soundbreaker, premiered in 2012, won the “Prix de la Création /Award for Creativity” at FIFA Montreal and has been shown in over thirty countries and in over fifty German cities’ cinemas. Soundbreaker is released on DVD and available as iTunes app.
Pohjonen has composed several film scores including Chinese / Finnish feature film Jade Warrior for which he and colleague Samuli Kosminen won the Finnish Jussi Award for Best Film Score of 2005.
In 2016 Kimmo Pohjonen was awarded from the Finnish government the State Prize for Multidisciplinary Arts for outstanding achievement of high quality art, experimentation and diverse projects in multiple art forms.
Kalmuk DVD Symphony 2002
Iron Lung 2004
Kimmo Pohjonen and Eric Echampard – Uumen 2005
KTU – 8 Armed Monkey 2005
KTU – Quiver 2009
Kimmo Pohjonen / Samuli Kosminen / Kronos Quartet – Uniko 2011
Kimmo Pohjonen / Samuli Kosminen / Kronos Quartet – Uniko DVD 2011
Heikki Laitinen / Kimmo Pohjonen – Murder Ballads CD 2012
Soundbreaker DVD 2012
Sensitive Skin CD 2015
Pohjonen Alanko – Northern Lowland 2018
“In the hands of avant-accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen, the mechanical intricacies of his instrument become agents of a great musical power, grace and expression. An instrumental virtuoso, Pohjonen has exploited the complete potential of the keys, buttons and air beneath his fingers by stretching both his instrument and personal performance capabilities. He has been stretching boundaries and defying expectations for more than a decade with mind-blowing concepts and visual performances. As a fearless adventurer in music, he remains doggedly unaffiliated to any scene, trend or ethos”. (All About Jazz)