Release Date: Sep 11, 2012
Record label: Touch
The continuing work of Mika Vainio -- especially given his longtime association with Touch for a variety of releases -- has been at once reliable and sometimes quite surprising, with a certain restlessness that has served him well in his various explorations in sound. Fe3O4: Magnetite continues this, with a particular emphasis on utter extremity, moving between chaotic full-bore sound and silence in ways that make soft/loud/soft alt-rock seem like the stepping stone to a logical conclusion it is. Starting with slow tapping percussion and distant high tones before a big rolling evil burst snarls into place with a rhythmic rumble, Fe3O4 begins beautifully before the opening "Magnetia" dissipates completely into near silence, the high tones now swirling on the edge of hearing.
I take to the stuff on Touch’s roster because I want to hear music - or more appropriately, sounds - that I’ve never heard before. And it’s with Mika Vainio’s FE304 - Magnetite that I get more than I bargained for. On the final track “Elvis’s TV Room”, this half of Pan Sonic gives me artificial tinnitus. Dogs may twitch a little bit, George Martin would think something along the lines of been-there-done-that, but it absolutely gives me the creeps.
One of the most hotly sought but rarely achieved qualities of music is surprise. This phenomenon works on several layers: musicians seek to make something new and unexpected, taking the whole music world by surprise; they attempt to transcend their past works by reinventing their sound, hoping to break new ground with their fans; and, finally, they strive to imbue each piece with surprise, engaging listeners by defying expectations. It’s this third category where Mika Vainio excels on Magnetite, employing a range of compositional tools and sound sources to achieve this purpose.
Mika Vainio returns once again with a disc of masterfully stark futurism. Maintaining clarity and simplicity has always been a priority throughout the Finnish composer's solo catalogue, as well as with the more rhythmic Pan Sonic. Unsurprisingly, this new recording continues along that same raw trajectory. Constructed of thick beams of electric sound, each piece pulses and glistens radiantly yet floods your ears with coarse torrents of sound, alternating violence with stillness, even silence.