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Rhythm & Views

KTU

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If 1970s-era prog rock grew up, found some balls and veered sharply into the wide net of the international experimental avant garde, KTU might well emerge as its progeny.

KTU combines the Finnish duo Kluster (featuring accordion master Kimmo Pohjonen and sampler Samuli Kosminen) with Trey Gunn (Warr guitar) and Pat Mastelotto (rhythmic devices) from TU and King Crimson.

KTU traffics in broad, tense and occasionally explosive compositions that are equal parts smoke and fire. Some of this is tribal in nature; other parts are closer to the dense, massive swirl of King Crimson. Certainly not since Miss Murgatroid's recordings 10 years or so ago has an accordion been used to fashion such provocative and unsettling music.

The mammoth undertow of "Optikus" has a march-of-the-dinosaurs quality, at least dinosaurs being dive-bombed by pesky accordion squeals and chased by ghostly voices. "Sineen" has a distinctly underwater feel, like thousands of pounds of pressure are being applied to the musicians. Despite all the technology, there's an archaic feel to 8 Armed Monkey, much of which sounds like a soundtrack to a film about primitive mankind and ancient cultures--it's not hard to envision cave paintings and the hunt. Gunn's remarkable work on the 10-stringed Warr guitar holds down both the upper and lower registers, letting the percussion, accordion, voices and various samples stretch off in all directions. Phenomenal musicianship and a future-primitive angle of attack give KTU an edge that cuts sharply both ways. As the Art Ensemble of Chicago used to say, KTU are "ancient to the future."

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