“Avara” is the last of eight sections that comprise Uniko, a special collaboration between Kronos Quartet and Kimmo Pohjonen Kluster, comprised of Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen and sampling artist Samuli Kosminen.
Kimmo Pohjonen has built a reputation worldwide as a daring and inventive artist pushing the limits of accordion music and performance. He has toured as a solo artist and with numerous ensembles and projects including Kluster, Kalmuk (with Tapiola Sinfonietta), Manipulator, and Animator (both with multimedia artist Marita Liulia). Samuli Kosminen, known as an innovator in the art of sampling and percussion, enjoys a simultaneous career with Icelandic band Múm. Uniko features Pohjonen/Kosminen compositions for accordion, sampler and string quartet. In addition to Kimmo Pohjonen’s electrified accordion and Kronos’ instruments, Samuli Kosminen reproduces samples of the accordion and strings to strange and dramatic effect in a powerful mix. The Uniko project premiered at the Helsinki Festival in 2004. The piece was also performed in Moscow and Molde, Norway.
About Uniko, Pohjonen and Kosminen write:
“The Uniko composition was commissioned from us for the Kronos Quartet in 2002. It was composed over an 18-month period before the Uniko world premiere in Helsinki in September 2004. Uniko is comprised of eight sections, connected thematically to the Uniko concept, the title of which is loosely connected to the concept of dreams. There are several ideas behind the creation of Uniko.
“First, we wanted to explore further the new and many possible sounds from the combination of accordion, accordion samples, strings, string samples and surround sound. This was virgin territory as far as we knew, and we were excited about what could be achieved with these combined elements. Second, we as a duo had many ideas for new pieces, melodies we wanted to develop in a new format such as this. The arrangements for these melodies were something we also very much wanted to do as an extension of our Kluster duo work, which involves accordion and accordion samples. Third, we wanted to ‘electrify’ the sound of the string quartet and explore the possibilities of manipulating it electronically with live looping, etc, expanding the scope of the quartet sound. Fourth, we wanted to further explore the visual part of our performances with light and video directors. The visual images are always a very important part of our concerts and we wanted to take them several steps further. Finally, we also wanted to try and reach a new level of emotional content with Uniko as a work of music. It was very important for us to create something stimulating and emotionally charged, to take the listener, as well as ourselves on an adventure. I hope we have succeeded in our goals. At least it has been great fun putting it together and performing it with the Kronos Quartet.”