Pan Sonic | Oksastus (2LP) [KVITNU 33]
Pan Sonic | Oksastus
Label: Kvitnu – KVITNU 33
Format: 2 × Vinyl, LP, Album, Limited Edition, Reissue, Special Edition
Released| 22 Apr 2020
Constraints of time and place are integral to the music made by Pan Sonic, the Finnish noise duo who split in 2010. In 2001, following the release of Aaltopiiri, the pair encouraged people to write and suggest tour locations to them, with the most appealing and/or unusual destinations chosen for a subsequent set of dates. This album for the Kvitnu label, a live effort recorded in 2009 in Kyiv in the Ukraine, is impossible to frame without thinking about the impending meltdown of both band and country, cloaking Oksastus in an apocalyptic backdrop. It's not clear yet if this marks a return to active duty by Pan Sonic, but this is more than a mere curio released to mark the final days of the band. Instead, it's a meticulously recorded document, laced with all the brutality and turmoil of their prior recordings, and an anything-could-happen looseness that flows out of their improvisatory approach.
Oksastus straddles a rich divide—its title is a Finnish word that can either mean the process of grafting or the cultivation of plants. Pan Sonic music never really feels like a graft, but it does take work to get inside it, to dig through the overlapping walls of noise to get to its cold heart. There's no sense of journey involved; instead it can be like peering into a cement mixer and watching new shapes appear and vanish inside its churn. Stand there long enough and even the smallest of movements can take on a significance greater than the infinitesimal change seen by the naked eye. On "5'31" (titles are replaced by runtimes throughout) a great loop of noise turns lethargically through its center as familiarly piercing electronics vye with a leaden undertow. Even as it approaches the point of white-out there's a strong sense of being trapped in time, lost in its mechanical engulf.
Where Pan Sonic succeed in their work, both here and elsewhere, is in the subtle bridging of discipline and the impromptu. They're somewhere between chaos and order, setting out rigid backbones to tracks, some of which harken back to mechanized sounds that mirror the earliest drum machines or synthesized drums. From there it resembles a battle between ship and wave, with both sides winning out at various junctures. Their use of repetition was chiseled down to a fine art by this point, and listening to them use it on a track such as the sprawling "11'03" is a fascinating experience—this isn't repetition to get lost in, to transport you away. It's there to drag you in, to keep you alert. It's the direct opposite of krautrock dreams or techno fantasias, even though roots of those genres can be found across Pan Sonic's output. Instead this is a nightmarish vision of the everyday, a stark and arresting vision of existence that spews out humanity's ugliness across a mixing board and a mesh of wires.
Recorded at Kvitnu_live concert in Kyiv, Ukraine on June 6th, 2009.
Music by Mika Vainio & Ilpo Väisänen.
Produced by Dmytro Fedorenko.
Recording engineer Stanislav Lomakovsky.
Mastering by C-drík at Syrphe.
Design by Zavoloka.
Scanning microscope photography by Oleg Kozlov.
- Second Limited Edition of 2xLP.
- Black Vinyl / 300 Copies.
# Industrial # Experimental # Power Electronics