, June 29th, 2010 11:59
For 15-odd years, Finnish duo Pansonic channelled the passions and aesthetics of noisescape pioneers Throbbing Gristle, Einsturzende Neubauten, Non and Test Department. Using newer, better equipment, they created a wider, more precise environment within which to invoke the deus ex machina of metallic percussion, insistent drones and the infinitely delicate glimmer of high frequency textural noise. From the exposition of their first release Panasonic to this, their swansong, Pansonic were constant innovators in a deep crevasse, creating music that is at once visual, textural and emotionally affecting.
On Gravitoni Pansonic use track titles as a GPS to their imaginative landscape, gifting their followers an unprecedented insight into their modus operandi. Gravitoni is the Italian plural for Graviton - a non-proven quantum particle related to the force of gravity and the definition of spacetime. This, alongside the chemistry and physics symbols inside the cover, should tip the listener to their preoccupations: electricity, magnetics, radio waves, planetary spin, brain waves. Their creative scope has been focussed onto the very fabric of their art as they document the final countdown to splitting the Pansonic atom.
Opener Voltos Bolt', uncannily similar to the output of Mika Vainio's Raster Norton labelmate Alva Noto, shoots intermittent signal through the speaker like an urgent hyper-industrial morse code. It stretches from sub bass resonance to high pitched menacing hum. 'Wanyugo' recalls the insistent drone of engines resonating within a wide metallic chamber - one could imagine this is how it sounds inside the Large Hadron Collider as it powers up to launch a potentially black-hole-inducing particle collision.
'Fermi', possibly a tribute to Italian particle physicist Enrico Fermi, is a beautiful, pulsing exercise in restraint in technique, warmly evocative and yet utterly spacious. It lulls us into a contemplative quiet, which is then effectively and instantly destroyed by the hum and hiss of 'Corona'. Busy, restless and powerful, this sounds like Pan Sonic attempting to translate the density of a solar flare into a wave form: fiery, unpredictable, intense and then suddenly quiet, as the reverberating heat gives way to the silent chill of space.
'Radio Qurghonteppa' accesses the patterns present in radio static - the ghosts of transmissions just outside our field of reception. It deserves close and repeated listen as the multiple layers of subtly melded samples unfold and decline into the ether, to be replaced by the chilling mechanics of 'Trepanointi/Trepanation'. Trepanning has been documented as a procedure used to relieve pressure on the brain since the Stone Age, and the track uncomfortably replicates the sound of drills and saws used to puncture the skull, the pop of pneumatics creates a general claustrophobia and confusion. What a relief it is, then, to be soothed and calmed by 'Vainamoisen uni.Vainamoinen Dreams', a paean to the Finnish god Vainamoinen, who, in Folklore, has the constellation Orion as his scythe. It’s possibly the most beautiful track on the album.
'Suuntaa-Antava/Indicational' (Finnish for 'Directional/Indicational' an indicator of stockmarket trends) is a short interlude, a subtle flux that acts as an interstitial connector between the previous seven tracks and the final three. 'Hades' - named after the resting place of departed spirits in Greek mythology - follows this sonic semi colon with wide, cold glacial sweeps and pulses: like a topographical depiction of the realm of the undead. Penultimate piece 'Kaksoisvinokas/Twinaskew' sets up an extreme split than bleeps and percussion, slightly offset to give a literal meaning to the song title, but also - being panned sonics - to reference their own decision to part ways, or to overlap less neatly in the coming future. The coda comes with ‘Pan Final’. Reminiscent of Scorn, it is an upbeat, warm and rhythmic piece, referencing early works while forecasting an optimistic future just as they take their bow. The track, and Gravitoni, ends on a single resonant note slowly decaying to silence, followed just for an instant by a flash of distorted power: a promise that more lies ahead. Fans of Pansonic's astounding back catalogue ought to take solace in what seems to be a prediction of future transmissions from Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen.