PAN SONIC: Gravitoni (Blast First Petite)


Posted on Jun 22nd 2010 01:03 am

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Pan Sonic: Gravitoni (Blast First Petite)

Blast First Petite 2010
11 Tracks. 52mins19secs

Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

If going out with a bang was the intention of Pan Sonic’s Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen, then Gravitoni is a resounding success. One of the most singular experimental acts to have emerged in the last twenty years, Pan Sonic have constantly operated on the verge of industrial music by processing harsh, abrasive soundscapes and dense beats structures into often pretty extreme electronic pieces. Not contempt with working as a sefl-contained unit, they have also, over the years worked with a considerable number of contributors, especially on the Rude Mechanic project, a collaborative effort with visual artists David Crawford and Hayley Newman, which took place over five weeks in a gallery space in Beaconsfield, north of London, with contributions from Jimi Tenor, Scanner, David Cunningham, Robert Ellis or Kaffe Matthews to name but a few. It is with their legendary live performances that they have commanded the most respect though, and it is perhaps no surprise that the booklet accompanying this record features pictures of places from all over the world where the band have performed. Those lucky enough to have witnessed the pair live talk of mind-blowing experiences, while those who haven’t can only regret missed opportunities.

Final outburst of digital noise and processing, Gravitoni is as dense and heavy as its cover is sombre and oddly threatening. Ridden with statics, distortions, saturated electronics and post-industrial noise, and propelled by seismic beats, this album is a particularly corrosive affair, even to Pan Sonic standards. The digital processing is particularly fierce from the start and rarely drops intensity throughout. Right from the opening moment of Voltos Bolt, Pan Sonic subject us to a volley of distorted electronics resembling the strident abrasion of a circular saw cutting though a metal sheet, served on a bed of equally distorted heavy drum beats, and if Wanyugo, which follows, appears slightly smoother around the edges, this is only relative. On Corona, later on, Pan Sonic swap circular saw for pneumatic drill and blow a warped drone to pieces by hammering it repeatedly.

All this of course is pretty standard Pan Sonic stuff, yet there appear to be here a renewed taste for extreme sound forms, away from the slightly smoother contexts of some of their records of recent years. As Gravitoni progresses, there is very little respite. Fermi is perhaps of a most gentle disposition, but even here the relative peace is threatened by glitches and haunting sound waves. There is however, like in most Pan Sonic records, a moment of deep calm toward the end of the record, where the intense digital assault evaporates for a moment to reveal what lurks deep within the entrails of this highly mechanical sound. With the atmospheric trilogy formed by Väinämöisen Uni/Väinämöisen Dreams , Suuntaa-Antava/Indicational and Hades, Vainio and Väisänen push into very different grounds, processing clusters of click and statics, drones, random noise and electronic textures into extremely minimal pieces. Kaksoisvinokas/Twinaskew painfully brings the machines back to life, but processed operatic vocals and orchestral brushes get caught in textured electronics, giving it a rather strange aura. The aptly named Pan Finale sees Pan Sonic return to more melodic structures, at least for a moment, but things become much harsher again in the second half as discordant electronics become more prominent again, then dissolve into a single signal noise which is brought to an abrupt end by a crashing noise, itself cut short.

Gravitoni may be the last Pan Sonic record, at least for the foreseeable future, the project going, in Mika Vainio’s own words, ‘into a deep freeze’, but there is at least one more album to be released, in the shape of a studio follow up to the pair’s live collaboration with Japanese experimental artist Haino Keiji, Shall I Download A Blackhole And Offer It To You, which was recorded in Berlin in 2007 and was released last year. A fitting finale to Pan Sonic’s totally unique body of work, Gravitoni is as uncompromising and extreme a record as they have ever recorded, and sees the band bowing out on a majestic high!


Blast First Petite
Amazon UK: CD | DLD US: CD | DLD Boomkat: CD | DLD iTunes: DLD

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One Response to “PAN SONIC: Gravitoni (Blast First Petite)”

  1. THE 2010 REVIEW | themilkfactoryon 19 Dec 2010 at 8:49 pm

    […] SONIC Gravitoni Blast First […]