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Pan Sonic

Idioma disponible: inglés
Pan Sonic -- originally Panasonic until an inevitable confrontation with the Japanese manufacturing giant of the same name -- was among the most active and well-known exports of Finland's experimental techno underground, and the first to reach acclaim at an international level. Pursuing the jagged edges of minimal and hardcore techno, Pan Sonic earned an enduring association with industrial and noise music through their incorporation of antiseptic production techniques and power-tool electronics. As they junked together studio equipment from spare parts and ancient analog debris, Pan Sonic's search for the untried in techno was their compositional M.O., placing them closer to the genre's Detroit roots than is often understood. They represented a collision between the Motor City's Jeff Mills and Cologne's Mike Ink: dance-based electronic music with maximum impact made with minimal extraneous detail. After earning praise for early releases like 1997's Kulma, the duo released collaborations with artists such as Alan Vega, Merzbow, Keiji Haino, and others. Their most ambitious album, the four-CD box set Kesto (234.48:4), appeared in 2004. The duo broke up at the end of 2009, but continued issuing archival releases, including the soundtrack Atomin Paluu (2016) and Microwaves (2021), a live collaboration with Italian ensemble Alter Ego. Formed in Turku in the early '90s, Pan Sonic began as the duo of Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen. As with most Finnish techno groups, Pan Sonic's earliest beginnings lay with Sähkö Recordings, the focus of the Northern European techno scene and home to such artists as Kirlian, Jimi Tenor, and solo monikers of both Vainio and Väisänen. In 1994, the duo released its self-titled debut single just prior to adding third member Sami Salo and landing a contract with Mute subsidiary Blast First. The group's first BF release, 1995's Vakio, featured the same brand of furtive, passively aggressive techno, but with a fuller, more thought-out sound. Salo left the group (apparently to join the Army), and Pan Sonic's subsequent releases -- the Osasto EP and the long-player Kulma -- noted his absence with a comparatively harder tone. Pan Sonic added live performance to their repertoire in 1996, playing a number of gigs throughout Europe and Japan, as well as touring with goth rock group Swans. Vainio moved to London in 1997, where, in addition to his commitment to Pan Sonic, he continued to record as Ø. He also released work on Sähkö, Puu, and Cheap as Tekonivel, Orchestra Guacamole (with Jaakko Salovaara), and Kosmos (with Jimi Tenor), and remixed tracks for Björk and Tactile. He and Väisänen joined with Suicide's Alan Vega to release Endless as VVV in 1998. The final Pan Sonic album of the '90s was A, their least intense full-length to that point. Pan Sonic resumed activity in 2001, when the duo released Aaltopiiri and toured the world. The remainder of the decade was highlighted by the four-disc Kesto (234.48:4) (2004), Katodivaihe/Cathodephase (2007), and collaborations with Merzbow, Vega, Sunn 0))), Keiji Haino, and Stephen Burroughs. In December of 2009, Pan Sonic announced that they would be parting ways in order to focus on their solo projects. The duo's final recordings surfaced over the course of the following decade. Studio album Gravitoni appeared on Blast First Petite in 2010, as did In the Studio, a double LP of sessions with Haino dating from 2007. Oksastus, a recording of one of Pan Sonic's final live dates, was released by Kvitnu in 2014. In 2015, previously unissued latter-day Pan Sonic recordings made up the soundtrack to Atomin Paluu, a documentary about the first nuclear power plant built since the 1986 meltdown in Chernobyl. After winning the prize for Best Soundtrack at the Jussi Awards Festival, the soundtrack was released by Blast First Petite in 2016. Vainio died in France on April 13, 2017 at the age of 53. In memoriam, Sähkö released Sähkö: The Movie Soundtrack EP, featuring Ø and Panasonic tracks recorded for Tenor's film about the label, in 2018. M.T.V. 15.05.63 ~ 12.04.2017, a 260-page hardcover book about Vainio containing an exclusive CD of previously unreleased performance recordings by Pan Sonic, was published in 2019. Remixes, an EP of previously unissued 1996 mixes of Panasonic tracks by Zoviet France and Muslimgauze, appeared in 2020. Microwaves, a 2006 live recording with Italian contemporary ensemble Alter Ego, was released by Die Schachtel in 2021.
© Sean Cooper & Andy Kellman /TiVo
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