Boomkat Product Review:
The duo of Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen have been around now since 1994 (they started as a trio mind you), and have a huge discography to their name, but recently they have experienced an upsurge in popularity thanks to Richie's Minimal possee and Sleeparchive re-discovering just how forward-thinking and crushing their early Sahko releases were. It would be easy to pass over their umpteenth album by thinking you've heard it all before - but that's where you'd be so totally wrong. Blending together everything they do best, this is to my mind Pan Sonic's most successful album to date - we have grinding noise-laden beats, bass so heavy it could flip over monster trucks, ambience that sounds like it's been twisted through masses of iron machinery and then little bits of seasoning thrown in liberally just so we realise the guys have had their ears wide open all this time. The album starts with 'Virta 1' and we're introduced to that patented analogue grind - the sound of real machinery at work : filthy, bleak and obscene. Suddenly and without warning however, we are introduced to a blackened cello sound (courtesy of Hildur Gudnadottir) and the album moves into another realm entirely. Taking cues from Murcof or Deaf Center, Pan Sonic side-step the teutonic pulsing they are known for and bring in an entirely new layer to their sound, and what's more it works, it works beautifully. What Vainio and Väisänen don't do however is repeat the trick over and over ad-infinatum, when the track is over the idea is put to rest, and we're onto the next experimentation. I think it's the awareness of current musical practices that makes me so excited by 'Katodivaihe', Pan Sonic manage to incorporate so much into every track it just drips with knowledge and with a deep understanding of music itself. Just flip over to the album's highlight (for me) 'Hyonteisistä' - this is Pan Sonic taking on the same murky world that gave us dubstep and coming out with a track that transcends the genre like nothing else : the bass is thicker, the beats are heavier and the mood is darker....and then before you even realise it the track has morphed into a half-tempo crunk monster - I'm not kidding, and if you've heard this track piped through gigantic speakers then really you will know the true meaning of low-end DESTRUCTION. Elsewhere we have the duo re-visiting the classic sound of those early Sahko 12's with the bleeping, reduced genius of 'Laptevinmeri', they tap into the sort of beatless atmospherics that would send shivers down the spine of Ed Gein with 'Kytkennat' and by the time the album draws to a scraping, screaming close you're left gasping for more, and ready to experience the whole thing all over again. Pan Sonic are a band who transcend classification -they do it all and they do it so well, and with 'Katodivaihe' they have put together the electronic album of the year. Whether you're an avid follower of the noisy sadism of Wolf Eyes or Throbbing Gristle or a dedicated techno devotee, there's simply something for everyone here - open your mind and trust me, the rewards will be endless. Essential purchase.