Pan Sonic

Katodivaihe | Blast First
By SUSANNA BOLLE  |  July 17, 2007
2.5 2.5 Stars
It’s been three years since they unleashed their magisterial quadruple-CD set Kesto, and Pan Sonic’s Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen have lost little of their power to vex and amaze. On Katodivaihe, which translates as “Cathodephase,” they use their usual mix of homemade synthesizers, analog tone generators, and samplers. The disc turns on numerous stylistic dimes, slipping from the swarming dubstep of “Hyönteisistä/About Insects” to the shimmering minimal techno of “Laptevinmeri/Laptev Sea”; the latter is an understated track that recalls Vainio’s influential solo 12-inch singles from the early ’90s. There’s cathartic, sizzling noise to rattle your eardrums; there are austere, abstract soundscapes to fray your synapses. The intensity lags about two-thirds of the way through: “Suhteellinen/Comparative,” an extended duet with cellist Hildur Gudnadottir, and the equally spare “Kytkennät/Connections” all but grind to a near-silent halt. But Pan Sonic roar back with the ominous “Haiti” and then a volley of shredded electronics and crushing, inexorable beats in the closing tracks.
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