Bury Festival: Kimmo Pohjonen

Bury Festival: Kimmo Pohjonen - Earth Machine MusicI wish I'd seen more of this concert. Confession time. I was late for it, something I deplore.

Ivan Howlett

Bury Festival: Kimmo Pohjonen - Earth Machine Music

I wish I'd seen more of this concert. Confession time. I was late for it, something I deplore. I was in Nowton a good 25 minutes before it began, but there wasn't a single sign from any road indicating the way to Hall Farm, the concert venue. In the end I found it at the end of a long unmade track that didn't even have a sign admitting it was Hall Farm.

I say this not to have a go at the Bury Festival (though to give website directions is simply not enough) but as a lament for my own misfortune. Kimmo Pohjonen is a one-off, a wonderful composer/performer of experimental world music, original in the extreme and I wish I'd caught every minute. When, eventually, I found the barn in which he was playing I found his music thoroughly absorbing.


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Pohjonen is a Finnish accordionist intent on breaking down the limited French café associations of his instrument.With rows and rows of buttons, his huge chromatic accordion makes a range of sounds, as he uses every part of it to play, tap or to be given an electronic treatment. It's a sound box as well as a squeezebox.

This show's theme - Earth Machine music - gets him using the sounds of recorded and live agricultural machinery. He's doing a tour of several UK farms, all of which he visited in March. He'd made recordings of machinery before going back to Finland to compose his music for the tour.

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So, in one section a red tractor is driven beside his podium, his team following it with microphones, and his music interacts with it. Then he collaborates with band-saw tractor attachment as logs are cut. Then there's a mock temperamental farm quad bike, which he answers on his instrument. There are all sorts of effects - surround sound, recorded loop samples of machinery and animals, which included a grunting pig. He himself makes accompanying cackles and yells.

The music he plays is so different it's impossible to categorise. Jimi Hendrix via classical and Finnish folk but not like any of them, if you like.

Sometimes there's a wistful, swirling quality; sometimes syncopated rhythms predominate. Then you might hear swarming insects, created by prodigiously quick fingerwork, leading up to a faraway echoing cockerel sound.

What a show.

Ivan Howlett

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