Dear my friends and family.
I always wanted to start a new feature: reviewing of the old records (mostly CDs) that stood Test of The Time!!!
My old friend and colleague (both electronica fanatics, but his passion is Psy/Goa Trance - imagine that, he is in his 30s and still plays Psy??? Common dude. Just kidding DamZah, check his soundcloud and mixcloud, great DJ with lots gigs per year), asked me, why don't I write about all those classic albums that we used to speak about for hours, and both agree that those artifacts from past/future deserve re-thinking.
Tell us what album DO YOU think is ELECTRONICA classic??? please send your message, communicate. I'm sure we would agree.
I could pick any Vainio's works, but this one was first and also have sentimental value, it is not for sale. No.
Ø – Olento (Sähkö Recordings)
Unfortunately Mika Vainio is dead, people talked, analyze his work and wrote a lot more (just in two days), than I will ever write on this blog. They wrote about of what Mika Vainio did and his legacy, and discography, but my favorite writing is form author who called him the "Nordic King Tubby", with intriguing info, and I will quote same author from The Wire: "It’s not clear exactly how or why he died; the reasons why he ended up alone on a cliff on northern France on 12 April remain unexplained".They have better expertise and they get money to write about it.
So I will not!!! I'm here to write about what this special album did to me, and how still resonating and sounding so futuristic and mind blowing. But we will talk about the past. We must, but not about Vainio's past. I must touch all those themes that got nothing with music, but certain situations. Also there will be about the music, I promise.
Mika bringing the noise with Ilpo Vaisanen - as Pan Sonic
Imagine, fresh from high school, I started my university years.They used to call me walking catalog number, cause I knew almost every catalog-number of the record I held, listen, or read about it, I even knew year when something was released - I was still so hungry for information. And when I thought I got everything in my little finger...
One of my friends, Bosnian ex-pat, out-of-blue, send it to me, via his mom, three CDs, and I still remember: Add N to (X) - On The Wires of Our Nerves (synth-pop, electroclash before Electroclash, funky break-beats with modular synthesis, and all on max distortion, and punky vocals), second was (all hats down to) Jimi Tenor - Utopian Dream (still one of the most futuristic jazz and synth pop album, ever made) and something I couldn't even read on the cover, Ø – Olento.
I wasn't ready for it, at that time, and this album was, at least for me "avant-garde-of-avant-garde" of electronic music, last frontier - something I don't understand. I knew I have to immerse myself into Olento, to be in perfect mood and environment to listen to, get it in to my ears, my mind. It was very slow and delicate process, and believe me, it is still in progress.
Album starts with miniature track that contain sound of those clockwork toys (wink to Richard D. James), and then suddenly out-of-nowhere there is that sound like glaciers are moving far away, that you can feel, instinctively fear, in your stomach.Track Hallitaajuus is nothing but the low frequency drone, but if you listen carefully, there is some strange sound or "melody" in the background, like a secret message. Youngster like me was thinking: "that was it?", but it is great introduction into next track Tila. Nine and half minutes of vision: pure and empty place, like valley that stretch as far as eye can see, with clouds that give some strange light brown on the surroundings around me, and all stand still. Ilta is also a beauty, minimalistic melody that reminds of dub techno, and also that low frequency of moving glacier, but less loud.
Stratostaatti is classic track from this album, with the bleep sounds like lights of alien probe in the woods, with half-rhythm, and it's getting even eerie when quite dramatic sound simply fade-in. Perfect for watching night sky (with no clouds if possible), in the cabin somewhere in the woods, without artificial (city) lights - maybe a candle. I like another miniature, Kunnes, which is nothing but Mika's playing with some low frequencies, and also that "dot-dot-dot" sound, that Raster-Noton championed in some of their releases.
Ohipumppu, imagine that, have 4/4 rhythm, perfect for DJs who prefer minimal techno, pardon micro minimal glitchy dance music. Well Kaskaat is hell-of-a-track, with sounds of crickets and other insects (for sure field recordings), with weird half-rhythm (again) and drone tone - then in the middle of the track another eerie melody comes in, and to be alone, in the cabin, in the woods doesn't sound like good idea. Wrong! Track is great, cause you can hear that Vainio plays (with the toy) with those samples, interchanging sounds of insects.
Mugwamp as I know is a creature from book called Naked Lunch by William Burroughs, that looks like insect, likes to drink and suggest our main character to leave USA, and go to the Interzone... yes Mr. Burroughs can be such a inspiration. And I think this could be soundtrack for Mugwamp porn, except if Mugwamp means something in Finnish. But track is cracky, minimal and glitchy, with some spaced-out sounds from modulator. With that, I tried to explain dot-dot-dot sound, but here again: if you can imagine a sound, imagine small dot, like pixel or less like this "." - try to imagine what it would sound like. Two tracks Throb-s and Tutkama are faster minimal techno, and with all those bleepy sounds, and the rhythm, I think could easily fit into, what we call first-wave-of-minimal-techno-in-the-90s.
What is important here? First of all, this album thought me to be patient and to listen, to really focus my ears on small details (that "dot.dot.dot" sound??), it opened my mind to sounds that will come after, and embrace it. Also I learned how pure drone, or simple melody can change atmosphere in sound and in place where you are listening this music. How sound sometimes can gave you physical sense of space - with just listening. Or how can texture of sound can effect your imagination of emptiness and vastness.
Me listening to Ø – Olento for the n-th time.
Once I said that Mika Vainio's music is equivalent of Monolith:
First when someone ask me how to describe most of Vainio's music, I would like to say to that individual to try to imagine to touch the Monolith and feel his texture. I mean really try with all your sense to describe what do you touch. Can you describe? For me: it is cold, without any sign of work on that material, perfect slide texture, microscopically without any roughness, and perfectly clean, without any reflection of light - even it absorbs, swallows the light that touches it - I'm far away but closest thing to my mind and senses it would be the marble, but multiply marble 1000x and wouldn't been not even close.
Second explanation: If you watched 2001: A Space Odyssey - yes it was Monolith for me, the homo sapiens, and after I touch it, examined with my mind I gained possibility to understood more music, to give a try to, understand music as art form. To try to change my view, my perception, my mind.
I still get confused, and still can't understand everything, but that was moment when mine real journey begin - to listen, feel, absorb, think and contemplate: the music.
Third, the most important, I write a glimpse of it in the text if you scroll a little bit up. It gave me a lesson how to listen the (certain) music. To listen with body also. How those anti-melodies, anti-sounds, create such a space... and most important how they affect me? How can I find the meaning and musical satisfaction in dot.dot.dot.dot.- well maybe there is no message!? Maybe it is all about sound-design or is it all in certain situation, moment in which I listen to dot.dot.dot.dot.dot
Maybe I didn't learn anything - at all!!!
Thanks again Mika Vainio. Your music will be listened for ages to come. Just like Monolith, it would last forever.