Harri Kuusijärvi plays accordion and is sharply inflecting that ancient axe within both heavy rock/prog contexts and post-rock neoclassicalism to re-shape and expand the instrument's possibilities. The Finnish group Harri Kuusijärvi Koutus is composed of just three young lads—at least, I think they're all young: the guy on the far right of the frosted-window liner photo looks like a dark version of John Cleese with a Hitler moustache (Mr. Hilter!), so don't hold me to the claim—and their work is decidedly prog but with ECM, Japo, and Enja intrusions, not to mention the spacier aspects of Messiaen, Takemitsu, Blomdahl, and other estimables. In whole, the ensemble is kind of like King Crimson after it's 3,485th reformation upon Fripp going completely 'round the bend (not a terribly long trip), blending In the Wake of Poseidon with Lark's Tongue in Aspic, interpolating shades of Starless and Bible Black with Discipline, Astor Piazzola sitting in on acid, Univers Zero strapped down and made to behave in the background, power chords and metrics offset by extraordinarily judicious negative spaces and a new form of soft doomy chamber music. All of that's then serially tossed out the window, beyond the perimeters of the just-mentioned labels, for a sublime leap into mists and still waters, after which reality comes crashing back in. In other words: unexpected, curious, striking, offbeat, rockin', avant-garde, and fucking good.
No, I mean it. Koutus is extremely adventurous in highly literary fashion, blending William Burroughs with H.P. Lovecraft with William Hope Hodgeson with Jack Vance with Walter Mosley (Easy Rawlins meets C'thulhu?) with Dark Disneyland (Hal Wilner version), Joik a particularly tasty example, guitarist Veikki Virkajarvi waxing Rypdalian. But the CD is also reflective of a far too overlooked segment of modern prog: Mats Morgan, Art Zoyd, X-Legged Sally, that sort of intense and lunatic material. Akin to Curlew, Borbetomagus, and other groups in terms purely of upsetting tradition, these gents don't just play differently, they think well out of customary modalities. In H.K. Koutus is found the new chapter of what progrock worked towards for so long and what Gens X / Y / Z / Whatever have so successfully managed: a cross hybridization process serving as new sonic cartography, twisting everything that went before not just into a new updated sound but renovated authenticity as well.
Um, they also get nutso every so often, as in Reindeer Derby, so you never know what's coming next; thus, add elements of Sleepytime Gorilla Museum to everything else. Expecting the lads to caper about for a goodly while, following a spell of disjointed syncopy, your peace of mind just might be a skosh set in disarray when instead a juggernaut comes tearing through the walls, raging like a demon. Run as you will, escape is impossible, and when it corners your terrified ass, fangs bristling, heaving chest gathering up for a gout of dragon's fire, you'll be thanking the stars for etiquette as the beast pulls out a volume on courtly manners and starts reading lessons to you…with annotations and footnotes. But not for long. This trio is loaded for bear and willing to hunt its prey through thick and thin, tundra and freeway, jungle and library, so never get too relaxed at any point. Koutus is one of the best discs to emerge this year, regardless of category, though the fact will likely be lost on you if you're sane, you poor bastard.
Edited by: David N. Pyles
Copyright 2014, Peterborough Folk Music Society.
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