You can't always tell who's doing what here, but at various points each artist's signature can be heard. Nicolai's glitchy minimalism surfaces most audibly during the album's busiest sections—"Movement 4" could pass for a dance floor-friendly Alva Noto record—while Ikeda's precise frequencies and sound processing seem present throughout. The serrated edge of Vainio's Pan Sonic project is here, too, especially on the climactic "Movement 11," where the trio make the most unholy noise they can muster. The value of the collaboration is clear at moments like these, when Vainio's punk spirit mingles with Nicolai and Ikeda's more disciplined sound design approach.
Like much of the trio's individual and collaborative work around this time, there's little here in the way of melody or musicality. But Live 2002 has plenty of rhythm, most notably in the reduced grooves of "Movement 10" and "Movement 4." Otherwise it's all mid- and low-end whirrs, which often move in stop-start bursts. "Movement 5"'s tones flicker on and off like malfunctioning machinery, while the brief "Movement 9" features synth volleys that seem to dive-bomb and detonate.
Though the music on Live 2002 is abstract, it's not hard to follow. The trio show an excellent grasp of tension and release, which gives the piece a satisfying sense of motion throughout. All three would continue to be prolific, but the value of Live 2002 is in both its one-of-a-kind nature and its approachability. It's a record for Raster (and Noton) obsessives, Pan Sonic completists and newcomers to experimental electronic music looking for a way in. Live 2002, the work of three bona fide masters of experimental electronic music, is a great place to start.