KESTO (234.48:4)

In its septic tank in the bowels of a huge and ancient machine, Pan Sonic is growing, mutating, evolving, threatening to burst its glass vessel and be set free upon the world. For years not much was really heard from outside this strange factory of recycled audio waste and crudely handcrafted noise. The buzzing of a broken fridge and the whirring industrial fans would come drifting out of ventilation ducts, but while the noises were sometimes disturbing, you got used to them and eventually almost forgot that they were there in the first place.
Then the sounds started getting louder. You would hear rumbling and the clanking of steel pipes, frightening echoes from deep below the earth. The distracting anomaly was clearly growing, demanding attention and respect. Now an overwhelming infernal symphony called “Kesto (234.48:4)”, with the title stating the duration of the work, has erupted out of the depths of this machine. Sending a thought of sympathy to the Japanese writer whom I saw actually reviewing the 50 CD “Merzbox” in a magazine, I delve bravely into the task of battling this slightly more diminutive four disc behemoth.
The four discs all represent slightly different directions of the group, tastefully illustrated by bleak photographs of Russian scenery and objects by Finnish artist Anne Hämäläinen. Especially the one depicting a jar of preserved cucumbers mirrors the windswept ambience of the last disc and its only track “Säteily/Radiation”. Ambience and the depiction of natural processes or phenomena in sound is more in focus in this work than ever before. For instance the track “Pakkasen Holvit/Arches of Frost” really evokes the movement of ice over continents and your breath surfacing as mist in the cold.
The first CD is more classical Pan Sonic, sometimes blasting forth noise and ruptured beats, at others serving up fluttering sine waves and gradually intensifying drones and, for Pan Sonic, unusually danceable grooves. On the second disc the beat goes on but the harsh noise is substituted by more hypnotic bass tones and buzzes. The third disc leaves us without the guidance of the rhythms, in an eerie world of leaking pipes and imminent, mystical threats hiding in dark corridors and cold seas. At the core of the tracks is a foreboding, deep sense of wonder and grandness which has been present in more recent live performances by Pan Sonic, and which comes into full fruition here. The fourth disc is a retreat into a warmer place of drone waves floating gently in space like air, or radiation.
“Kesto” is a powerful experience which, at least in its entirety, demands complete concentration and headphones to keep out other noises, which are easily confused for album sounds during tracks with long silences or low volume input. It is no picnic, but definitely the most important recorded work of Pan Sonic to date.