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Saturday, September 22, 2012

Mika Vainio - fe3O4 - Magnetite (Touch, 2012) ****

By Paolo Castertano

Last March, I attended a Mika Vainio live set. It wasn’t the first time I had the chance to experience a performance by this half of the now in permanent hiatus famous experimental electronic duo Pan Sonic. So I was certainly aware of the many-sided embodiments of the artist, swinging from deep techno to minimalism. However, the misleading promotion of the hosting club had me thinking it was a live presentation of his recent work on Editions Mego, called “Life … It Eats You Up”, that we can mainly file as a great “processed guitar” record.

How naïve of me knowing the reputation of the club! Instead, I spent the night at kind of rave party. At two o’clock a.m., after uncountable hours of clearly out of synch breakbeats gently provided by the DJs opening, the happening - despite the three PowerBooks they were proudly showing (how is that even possible?) - and just before my legs gave out (I’m not that young anymore), Vainio finally appeared on the stage.

Basically I was happy because someone was respecting some rhythmic basic rules playing just two turntables, and considering that Vainio is indeed a competent musician, I even managed to appreciate some pretty minimalistic passages while I was trying to ignore the screams and shouts of the infamous audience gathered there for the night.

Apparently the flyer wasn’t misleading for them, so probably it was just my friend Bartolo’s fault for he had convinced me that we should not miss such an important electronic event.

The seven compositions of “fe3O4 – Magnetite” don’t add much to the Nordic master's repertoire. Distorted layers and obscure whistles, all the bursts and melodic structures are skillfully built and the result is pleasurable. The quality of clicks and cuts is far above the average of the genre. Vainio excels in the hyper bass tones. The bells and their resonance in “Magnetosome” are remarkable. Basically every sound in the work is interesting and exactly where you expect it should be. Even if on the whole I consider the formerly quoted “Life … It Eats You Up” as a more sincere and inspired work.

Because I have no fear of contradictions, this is probably not jazz. Nevertheless this is a good album with serious and well-done music.

Buy and listen to some at the label.

© stef


Anonymous said...

Less than a third of this actually addresses anything related to the album...

Paolo said...

it is a short review for a good but not unforgettable work. Not all the albums deserve a deep exegesis. Besides this is clearly just my opinion. Thanks

Stef said...

Luckily there are no rules for writing reviews ... sometimes context and story-telling are welcome.

Free jazz ... free style ...

Anonymous said...

Even if it is true that only the last part of the review refers to the album, it says a lot about the artist and his music. With the help of the link you can get a good impression of what the music is like on the record. Especially considering the fact that this is music which is rather unusual for this blog, it makes sense to write a different kind of review. Moreover, it provides a welcome change to the more conventional (albeit profound) reviews.

joesh said...

Hi Anon, it's great to have feedback, and as Stef says, free-jazz, free styles.

In fact in reality (if you're interested) you should read the thousands of comments we get. Some think we write too much, some not enough. Others don't like straight journalistic type reviews and think we should be more abstract, others want 'the' facts. Some don't want stars on the reviews, and many ask what's happening when we don't put them on! In other words we just write what we can, and .. try to get some pleasure from doing it. With soooooooo many records coming in it's difficult to be witty and original all the time if you want to keep up with the back-log.

As for the album (and review) at hand it just mad me think how I should maybe go back and give those PanSonic albums a listen again!