- Pan Sonic has been in a "deep freeze" since 2010, and output from Ilpo Väisänen has been scarce (as usual), but Mika Vainio, the duo's other half, has certainly kept busy. In solo mode and as a collaborator, the Finnish experimental artist continues putting out music at a rate of two or more full-lengths per year. Kilo, released on Blast First Petite, is his latest solo effort. Though billed as "the beat-driven follow-up" to 2011's Life (… It Eats You Up), it's very much its own beast.
There's still plenty of thick, textured noise to dig into, but the guitar-heavy attack of Life... is mostly absent. Kilo also places more emphasis on rhythmic structures (as twisted as they may be) than its predecessor, or any of Vainio's other recent material. Still, it features the darkly cinematic flow he's known for, from opener "Cargo"'s tectonic shifts to the stealing-back-into-the-abyss finale, "Weight."
An early highlight is the swaggering "Load," which uses rude, bruised drums and snaps of electrical current for propulsion, while a triumphant lead riff (if you can call it a riff) is endlessly modulated, sometimes growling in the background and sometimes leaping out across the front of the mix. A short ending sequence previews the 16th-note thump that powers through the morbid and mesmerizing "Docks," which then gives way to the beat-less "Sub-atlantic." That one is most evocative of the album's maritime theme, thanks to its low rumbles and long, aqueous gasps and hisses. Later on, "Freight" builds into one final industrialized groove, before "Weight" gradually winds down the album.
"I usually work for a couple of albums at the same time, different types of album," Vainio said in a recent interview on his approach to production. It's a testament to his stature as a leading purveyor of experimental electronics that the results of those pursuits, as seen once again on Kilo, are reliably unpredictable.