Consisting of both Finnish and American members, KTU is a bi-continental instrumental group that has combined progressive rock with elements of traditional Scandinavian folk as well as with elements of psychedelic rock, ambient electronica, and jazz. The experimental outfit has employed wordless background vocals at times, but for all intents and purposes, they are an instrumental group -- not a vocal-oriented group. Melodically and harmonically, KTU have gotten a lot of inspiration from '70s progressive rock favorites such as King Crimson, Pink Floyd, Yes, Gentle Giant, and Genesis; in fact, two of KTU's members, guitarist Trey Gunn (b. Dec. 13, 1960, Texas) and drummer/percussionist Pat Mastelotto (b. Sept. 10, 1955, Chico, CA) have been part of the long-running King Crimson (which was co-founded by British guitarist Robert Fripp in England in 1969 and has had numerous lineup changes over the years -- Gunn didn't come on board until 1994, and he left in 2003). But KTU's work is far from a nostalgic ode to progressive rock's '70s heyday; they have post-'70s influences as well (including '90s and '00s electronica), and none of the '70s bands that have influenced KTU are known for having a major Scandinavian folk influence. A lot of KTU's Nordic folk influence comes from Kimmo Pohjonen (b. Aug. 16, 1964), a Finland native who is KTU's accordion player and has played in some Finnish folk bands (including Pinnin Pojat and JPP). Pohjonen's father was also an accordion player, and Finnish folk was his specialty. So traditional Scandinavian folk is not a mere afterthought for Pohjonen; it is something that he has had more than a passing interest in.
KTU was formed in 2004, when Pohjonen and percussionist Samuli Kosminen (who is also from Finland) joined forces with Gunn and Mastelotto. Pohjonen and Kosminen had been with the band Kluster (which they founded in 2001), while Gunn and Mastelotto had -- in addition to their work with King Crimson -- played together in TU (a group that recorded an album in 2003 and opened for the well-known alternative metal band Tool on some dates). The name KTU, in fact, is a combination of Kluster and TU. Gunn has also been a member of the prog rock groups UKZ and Quodia and has led his own unit, the Trey Gunn Band. The r+¬sum+¬ of Kosminen (whose last name means "cosmic" in Finnish) also includes the Finnish outfit Edea and M+¦m (an experimental combo that was formed in Iceland and has had mostly Icelandic members), while Mastelotto was a founding member of the '80s pop/rock-new wave group Mr. Mister (best remembered for their 1985 hit "Broken Wings"). With Pohjonen on accordion, Mastelotto on drums and percussion, Gunn on guitar, and Kosminen providing samples, KTU decided to make their first album, 8 Armed Monkey, a live album; that CD was released on Thirsty Ear in 2005. Quiver, KTU's first studio album and second album altogether, was recorded in 2007 and 2008 and released on the Hoedown Arts label in May 2009. ~ Alex Henderson
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