Hold onto your hats, this is going to be a big one. Actually, forget your hats: hold onto your heads. This is Pan Sonic’s swansong, and they’re going out in style.
The first half of Ilpo Väisänen and Mika Vainio’s final (apparently) record offers brutal beats, immense buzzing and rumbling bass, and a selection of unearthly howls. I normally steer clear of such over-the-top pronouncements, but at times I can really believe that this music has erupted out of some dark abyss intent on eating my soul. It makes Come To Daddy sound like a novelty pop tune (which, of course, it is… if you had to compare this to Aphex Twin, the B-sides of the vinyl version of the Smojphace EP might be more closer, but they don’t have the intensity and they certainly don’t have the scale). Let’s start with those beats: there’s something blunted about them which makes them seem more violent, as each one lands with a sickening thud. There are bass sounds which seem to do things to my Mordant-Shorts which I’m sure the makers never intended. This is at once aggressive and sinister, and totally (and, yes, literally) awesome.
It would be wrong to say that there is no let-up in this. Track 7, Väinämöisen Uni / Väinämöinen Dreams, has no beats and no bass, just a noise like a blade being dragged across the rim of a glass accompanied by distant echoing drips and clanks. This really ramps up the sinister side of things, leaving the aggression all implied. The next couple of tracks are similarly largely free of beats, although the buzzing is back at times. Track 10, Kaksoisvinokas / Twinaskew, is mostly about a glitchy click track, supplemented by broken snatches of opera and the like (all faded and distant, and wobbling so much that the strings almost sound like fairground carousel music). On the last track, Pan Finale, a more conventional beat is slowly overtaken first by a buzzing sounds and then finally by a strangely meaningful sounding modulated sine wave.
I have left describing my favourite track until last. Track 6, Trepanointi / Trepanation, bridges between the raw violence of the first half and the implied thread of the second. It starts out with a barrage of crackling and one of the Finns’ trademark throbbing bass hums. There is a muffled beat, somewhere in the background, for the first couple of minutes, but it drops away in favour of an all-out bass assault. And what a bass. Each chord hangs in the air for several seconds, leaving you to revel in the sheer gobsmacking power of this wonderful noise.
I bought this from Juno. They call it Leftfield, whatever that means.