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Konstellaatio by Ø (Mika Vainio)
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9/10 Ant 30 January 2014

Mika Vainio follows up 2013’s tremendous ‘Kilo’ album and collaborations with Joachim Nordwall and Stephen O’Malley with a most welcome return to his Ø alter-ego with the first album under that alias since 2008’s ‘Oleva’. Vainio’s influence can be heard through everyone from Sleeparchive, Richie Hawtin to Emptyset to name but a few, however none have matched the sheer force and weight of his productions. Something I like to do when the family vacate the premises and my neighbours are not home is pull out a stack of his records and enjoy them at the highest volume my system can take. Something I’ve learned over the years with his work (and the same goes for Phill Niblock) its that it demands to be played LOUD. At low to moderate volume you just can’t experience the sheer scale and earthquaking impact of his sound, and you really only get half the story. It’s the equivalent to watching Apocalypse now on a mobile phone screen. ‘Kontsellaatio’ is no different. Bearing this in mind the first time I played it I ensured the best possible listening conditions and BOOM!!! The menacing sub-bass of opener ‘Otava’ hits you in the chest, the sound manifesting as a physical presence, gently warping around celestial electronics that have a really sad feeling, like dying stars. From here on it’s clear we’re in for quite a ride.

The sound palette is often fairly typical of his Ø productions with pin-prick, sparkling precise electronics, glassy tones, spacious rhythmic work, metallic drones, cavernous black ambient soundscapes and so on. There’s a far more distinct narrative and flow to say the more abstract Vaino productions such as ‘Black Telephone Of Matter’ or ‘Fe3O4’ but as with those works, space, silence and near silence play as important roles as heavyness. This juxtaposition of scale, of the crushing bass and fragile delicate electronics is echoed in the sonic worlds Vaino creates here. One moment I visualize planets, the next particles and sub-atomic imagery and so there's a very appealing microcosm/ macrocosm thing happening for me. Of course it goes without saying that the production is immaculate, totally beaming with analogue warmth. It’s these finely tuned sounds that make him an absolute master of minimalism.

The most “musical” moment in the traditional sense comes in the form of closer ‘Takaisin’. A downtempo almost hip-hop paced track with super crisp drums, heavyweight bass emissions and very pretty, almost music box like chimes. ‘Konstellaatio’ plays with extremes; when things are big they are huge, when they are small they are microscopic, when they are stripped back they are super minimal and when they are great, they are outstanding. Mika Vaino doesn’t do things in halves.


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