Mika Vainio, Aste (Sahko) 2x12"
It’s been an embarrassment of riches over at the normally ascetic Sähkö imprint as of late. In recent months, they’ve repressed a slew of classic material from their storied backcatalog of minimal techno. This means that fans of Mika Vainio’s solo work as Ø and Philus are now like proverbial pigs in mud, wallowing in the minimal(ist) pleasures of releases like Tulkinta, Olenta, Tetra, a bunch of lovely first-time vinyl editions, and the jewel in minimal techno’s crown, Metri, which is now available on vinyl (Oh, joy! Oh, rapture!). But, perhaps the most exciting record in this spate of Vainio-related release activity (trumping even the repress of the first Panasonic 12”), is Aste, a double 12” of unreleased Ø tracks circa 1992-3. From the outset, with the elliptical swoops and relentless beats of “Spiraalit,” each track is a remarkable example of Vainio’s prescient, pathbreaking approach with its subtle shifts in rhythmic pattern, trademark crystalline trebles, and deep, sub-bass. The majority of the eight tracks collected on Aste, while not exactly dancefloor stormers (they’re far too eccentric for that), are fairly solidly four-to-the-floor with the exception of the final two (“Maan Valossa” and “Siimes”), which, for my money, mark the highpoints of the record. “Maan Valossa,” which opens side D, is a darkly atmospheric piece that centers on a speech by the Soviet cosmonaut, Yuri Gagarin, set against a basic, repeating synth line, while the final cut, “Siimes,” drifts almost dublike, yet unsettling, into the ether. Great stuff.
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