Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: Kronos Quartet, Kimmo Pohjonen & Samuli Kosminen’s Uniko

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Kronos Quartet, Kimmo Pohjonen & Samuli Kosminen: UnikoKronos Quartet, Kimmo Pohjonen & Samuli Kosminen: Uniko (Ondine, 2/1/11)

Morrow: In 2004, the unparalleled Kronos Quartet premiered a new commission of material written by Finnish accordionist Kimmo Pohjonen and sampler / electronic percussionist Samuli Kosminen.  Though it only was performed on a handful of occasions, it proved so resonant that the six performers finally recorded the seven-movement suite, which was released last month by independent classical label Ondine.

Kronos has always attained high marks for its diversity of projects.  Uniko, first and foremost, remains a contemporary chamber piece, but it’s most set apart by the electrified and effected sounds of Pohjonen’s accordion and the soft laptop beats of Kosminen.

Pohjonen also adds wordless vocals that at times resemble throat singing.  It’s another interesting element, but the movements’ structures are the real key to Uniko‘s success — whether building into a stirring Balkan folk melody in “I. Utu” or stacking pizzicato and staccato passages over buzzing percussive samples in “III. Sarma.”


Behind the Counter: A-Musik (Cologne, Germany)

Each Tuesday, Behind the Counter speaks to an independent record store to ask about its recent favorites, best sellers, and noteworthy trends.

A-Musik in Cologne, Germany is a multifaceted record store, label, and distributor. Established in 1995, the small but mighty electronic-music specialist has grown over the years to encompass a wide variety of genres and formats. Its involvement in the Cologne music scene is just as varied, from art exhibitions to deejaying around town. We spoke with Wolfgang Brauneis, one of four shop employees, and learned the basics of A-Musik.

What was your motivation for starting a music store? / What is your background in music?

The shop was founded by Georg Odijk in 1995. The motivation was, I think, pretty simple: to create a place for music and records for which other shops and mail-orders don’t really care. In the first place that was mainly experimental music (from historical artists’ records via industrial to contemporary noise heads) and electronic music, which around that time was really thrilling. Here it is also important to mention that Georg at the same time founded the A-Musik label, which was strongly connected to the shop, and released the debut albums by Microstoria (Jan Werner of Mouse on Mars and Marcus Popp of Oval), Marcus Schmickler, Schlammpeitziger, and F.X. Randomiz. The background of Odijk and his helping-hand, Frank Dommert, was in experimental music. They both played in the electro-acoustic combo Kontakta while Dommert was running the Entenpfuhl label (which actually released the fist Jim O’Rourke LP back in 1991!). Of course, things have changed in the last 15 years — the musical taste of the people involved in the whole thing, and also the fact that, for quite some time now, there are four people working at A-Musik. Now the background(s) also include guitar stuff from garage punk onwards, dub or hip hop to free jazz, dubstep and breakcore.

Georg Odijk holds Lithops' Formationen (A-Musik, 2010)
Georg Odijk holds Lithops' Formationen (A-Musik, 2010)

Morrow vs. Hajduch

Morrow vs. Hajduch: Roll the Dice

Scott Morrow is ALARM’s music editor. Patrick Hajduch is a very important lawyer. Each week they debate the merits of a different album.

Roll the Dice: s/t LPRoll the Dice: s/t LP (Digitalis, 6/8/10 — digital copies available via iTunes)

Roll the Dice: “The New Black”
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Hajduch: Swedish duo Roll the Dice are not a household name, but you may have heard their work as individuals before. Malcolm Pardon “continously composes for film and television,” while Peder Mannerfelt has long written music as The Subliminal Kid and most recently contributed to Fever Ray‘s album and touring line-up. Together, they make meditative, arpeggiated drone music using only synth and piano.