Ø, 2008 / Mika Vainio, 2011
Mika Vainio was a rare artist: he created his space and in the process spawned an entire genre. It's wrong to call his work 'synth' music, it was raw synthesis, without any intermediary. Sounds generated by excess electricity were corralled and wrangled into artful shapes by the simplest of means and deft hands. Vainio's work, solo and as half of Pan Sonic always about, and transformed, space. His restraint spoke as loudly as any of the monumental, distorted swells he would conjure.
Oleva and Life… It Eats You Up represent those two of the extremes in Mika's work. HIs recordings under the name, Ø (pronounced Ohm), rank among his most delicate. Crystalline tones pop in cavernous halls, long pitches are gently bent across the horizon, a fathomless bass haunts the mix without ever fully surfacing. On Oleva, we get a glimpse into Vainio's influences as he offers up a minimal electronic (and strikingly gorgeous) rendering of Pink Floyd's Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun.
Where Oleva is pristine, It Eats You Up revels in violence. For just this once, Vainio used a more terrestrial sound source: Life is a collection of guitar manipulations. Titles like Ravanous Edge or Open Up and Bleed capture the gnarled crunch of it all. While the the strings give a tactile presence to the death rattle of this guitar, the results are unmistakably Vainio.