Mika Vainio + Ryoji Ikeda + Alva Noto - Live 2002

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  • In 2002, when Mika Vainio, Ryoji Ikeda and Carsten Nicolai gathered in Newcastle for a performance at the BALTIC Centre For Contemporary Art, it was a heady time for experimental electronic music. Labels like Mille Plateaux and Raster-Noton were at their influential peak, while Ikeda and Nicolai, AKA Alva Noto, were scrambling brains with releases that split the difference between sound art and electronic music. Mika Vainio's Pan Sonic project was releasing some of its most punishing work. The collaborative spirit seemed well established, too. Vainio had put out an album with Nicolai in 2001, as Ø + Noto, and Ikeda made an LP with Nicolai as Cyclo. that same year. Live 2002, a recording of the only time they performed together, is remarkable both for its historical value and as a snapshot of a sound art tradition still going strong today. You can't always tell who's doing what here, but at various points each artist's signature can be heard. Nicolai's glitchy minimalism surfaces most audibly during the album's busiest sections—"Movement 4" could pass for a dance floor-friendly Alva Noto record—while Ikeda's precise frequencies and sound processing seem present throughout. The serrated edge of Vainio's Pan Sonic project is here, too, especially on the climactic "Movement 11," where the trio make the most unholy noise they can muster. The value of the collaboration is clear at moments like these, when Vainio's punk spirit mingles with Nicolai and Ikeda's more disciplined sound design approach. Like much of the trio's individual and collaborative work around this time, there's little here in the way of melody or musicality. But Live 2002 has plenty of rhythm, most notably in the reduced grooves of "Movement 10" and "Movement 4." Otherwise it's all mid- and low-end whirrs, which often move in stop-start bursts. "Movement 5"'s tones flicker on and off like malfunctioning machinery, while the brief "Movement 9" features synth volleys that seem to dive-bomb and detonate. Though the music on Live 2002 is abstract, it's not hard to follow. The trio show an excellent grasp of tension and release, which gives the piece a satisfying sense of motion throughout. All three would continue to be prolific, but the value of Live 2002 is in both its one-of-a-kind nature and its approachability. It's a record for Raster (and Noton) obsessives, Pan Sonic completists and newcomers to experimental electronic music looking for a way in. Live 2002, the work of three bona fide masters of experimental electronic music, is a great place to start.
  • Tracklist
      01. Movement 1 02. Movement 2 03. Movement 3 04. Movement 4 05. Movement 5 06. Movement 6 07. Movement 7 08. Movement 8 09. Movement 9 10. Movement 10 11. Movement 11