Ilpo Väisänen pays tribute to Mika Vainio and "the life of Pan Sonic."
Väisäinen is the latest to pay tribute to Vainio, and his new record might well be the final word. Inspired by "the life of Pan Sonic," ÄÄNET carries the spirit of the group's finest music—unpredictable, foreboding and combustible. Väisäinen goes as far as incorporating field recordings from the duo's 2000 world tour, as if to embed the group's DNA into the music itself. It's not a new Pan Sonic album, but it is a loving and insightful send-off from one of the artists who knew Vainio best.
Väisäinen's recent work has turned Pan Sonic's pulsing static into dynamic rhythms that pull on a thread of dub buried deep in the duo's older work. But on ÄÄNET he turns back to the tectonic plates of sound and startling disturbances that marked his collaborations with Vainio. A track like "Turun Sattuma," with its morse-code bleeps and blasts of noise, is vintage stuff, with hair-raising dynamics that keep you on your toes. Stuttering snares are all over "Pimeyden Vasara," another pleasing Pan Sonic signature. And "Seattle 2, Asema" calls back to the duo's uncanny ability to make electrical hum-and-buzz sound captivating
The LP veers between what sounds like intentional tributes to Pan Sonic and a continuation of Väisäinen's solo work. On "Muistoissa 1, 2, 3"—which translates roughly to "in memoriam"—serrated basslines that echo Vainio's own close in like circling sharks. The rattle of "Syrjäytyvä" and "Raavittua Krokodiliä," however, is more in line with Capital Dub, Väisäinen's last LP—a reminder that this is still a solo project with Väisäinen's own idiosyncrasies. It also adds crucial variety.
That said, ÄÄNET has a lot in common with any great Pan Sonic LP. It ranges from aggressive noise—such as the fiery, Gravitoni-style wall of sound on "San Francisco Keskustelu"—and spasmodic rhythms to near-silent interludes and sine-wave whines. If nothing else, it's ÄÄNET's constant tension between quiet and loud, the sense that the music could explode at any second, that rings truest to Pan Sonic. ÄÄNET is among the most complete tributes to Vainio, and an impressive record in its own right.