ALBUM BLAST FIRST!, PLAYGROUND RELEASE: JANUARY 16, 2001(NORTH AMERICA), FEBRUARY 19, 2001 (EUROPE) REVIEW: MARCH 1,
For a long time, I thought I would find it impossible to fully appreciate Pan
Sonic on their own. I loved "Endless", the album they recorded with howling
Suicide singer Alan Vega, but found their own music hard to take in anything
but small doses.
Their last album, "A" from 1999, was almost painfully static. It's
reverb-laden clicks and hums felt like watching still-lifes of frozen
electrodes, and that is only inspiring for so many minutes. But with new
album "Aaltopiiri" something has happened. The changes are subtle, but in Pan
Sonic's hermetic world, they're a revolution.
Unlike the glitch-obsessed laptop armada that is the duo's contemporary
peers, Pan Sonic seem to stick stubbornly to their primitive machinery. But
their new material is more expansive, and evolves in a much more rapid pace.
The music is still built up of clicking rhythm tracks and the sounds of
their machines are breathing and squirming. Now it also echoes of dub reggae's
vast inner space, and the mechanical rhythms are funkier than ever.
Especially "Kone", that sounds like 80's electrofunk being abused by a bunch
of smoke spewing truck engines.
Elsewhere, they move even further into the engine room. "Kierto" ends the
album with hammering beats and misters Vainio and Väisänen firing off blasts
of noise. But it's when they let the monotony become relieved
by a sudden turn that they are at their most impressive. When some slowly
modulating feedback suddenly enters in "Vaihtovvirta", it's like
seeing the sun for the first time in weeks. And that's impressive for such
presumably inhuman music.
Call their music old school industrial, Detroit techno stripped to the metallic bone,
horsemeat rockabilly or arctic dub. Pan Sonic are still one of the most
oddly fascinating bands of our time.