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8 Armed Monkey by KTU

When we live our lives, we automatically subject ourselves to every level of existence. How we finally interact with those levels is always in question. Sometimes we do it through direct connections, plunging into activities that put us in the thick of things, and sometimes we do it culturally, which can act as a metaphor for the former. The metaphorical connections we have to our existence require paradoxically, a certain distance, a viewpoint, and a language with which to state our relationship.

KTU is a serendipitous combination of musicians coming from different cultures. Kimmo Pohjonen, Finnish accordionist, and Samuli Kosminen, Finnish sampler mixer, both from the band, Kluster, once were billed together in 1999 with King Crimson. Two of the members of King Crimson, Trey Gunn, Texas guitarist, and Pat Mastellotto, California drummer, and Kluster were so impressed with each other that over a five year period, the project KTU came into being.

The recording that the group has produced for Thirsty Ear recordings, 8 Armed Monkey, pays tribute to all that is essential to existence, from the primal to the tribal to the civilized. The form of the tribute is a vast musical exploration of sonic richness that is seldom heard. What characterizes the music is its highly rhythmic and driving themes. The vocal interjections humanize the hugely electronic backdrop which, in itself, also tends to become the forefront. Mesmerizingly within the mix is the sound of the Warr guitar, whose 10-string tapped activation, can equal the range of a piano. The sounds that are pulled together rise and fall and come through as the fluidity on which everything else can float. The accordion is the most emotionally indicative instrument within the band. The accordion blends itself accentually within the electronics and then separates itself to evoke some of the most romantic machinations possible.

Robert Fripp, the founder of King Crimson, a band whose notoriety is achieved by its amazing capacity to improvise, once said that his band personified "a way of doing things.... a way of thinking.... and the way of feeling and the way of acting." This addresses the notion that a conceptual approach to making music precedes a technical one.

I would say that Fripp’s overview of his own band is reflected in the KTU project just as much as those of his own band. For the music of 8 Armed Monkey coalesces more than a straight-forward statement. It fuses volumes of complexity, and succinctly expressed concerns that are endemic to all humanity.

It is music like this that is needed in this world: to expose global unity from multiple approaches... to put us all on the same playing field. How many exceptional creative ventures will it take to get us there?

Additional Info

  • Artist / Group Name: KTU
  • CD Title: 8 Armed Monkey
  • Genre: Free Jazz / Avante Garde
  • Year Released: 2005
  • Record Label: Thirsty Ear
  • Musicians: Trey Gunn (Warr guitar), Samuli Kosminen (accordion samples, voice samples), Pat Mastelotto (rhythmic devices), Kimmo Pohjonen (accordion, voice)
  • Rating: Five Stars
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