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Mika Vainio
 Kantamoinen
 (Sahko Recordings) CD

Ø is Mika Vainio, who is best known as one half of the Finnish post-techno analogists Pan Sonic. Vainio has typically reserved the designation Ø for his more abstract music. Over the years, however, the lines have blurred somewhat over the years as Pan Sonic's sound has evolved in new directions and Vainio has begun to release rather Ø-esque work on the UK label Touch sans pseudonym. Kantamoinen is Vainio's first Ø full-length release in quite some time (he released an excellent EP last year called "Häppi") and the various pieces were made over an extended period, from 1999 to 2004. It's a rather varied collection stylistically (and does contain some previously released material), shifting from abstract spriralling dub to treated spoken word to lush shimmering synths to spaced-out retro-futuristic analog electronics. However, in spite of the range of styles that Vainio traverses over the course of the record, and the years over which it was made, Kantamoinen is not a hodgepodge of scraps and cast-offs. It has a mysterious, subtle cohesiveness of mood, with each piece reading like a brief chapter in a rather impressionistic set of memoirs. I've been living with this record for a couple of weeks now, listening to it in a variety of contexts, and I perceive new and unexpected facets with each listen. Fascinating, essential, and the best Vainio solo release to date.

 

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