(De)construction Time Again: Mika Vainio at Cafe Oto and Pete Swanson at Birthdays reviewed

There was a rumour that dour Finnish noise duo Pan Sonic used a custom-made white box of tricks that, if turned up to full power, was fully capable of demolishing a building. Whether apocryphal or not, that entertaining story neatly illustrates the intense and cauterising power of their work. Encountering Pan Sonic’s Mika Vainio in a sit down, polite venue like Cafe Oto therefore doesn’t come without its incongruities. Does this music not better suit being heard in a dark, anonymous, intense cavern?

Not entirely. Vainio is at his best when he uses the space to his own advantage. A chaotic opening section seems designed to quiet his audience. Then, a simple, coaxing ‘phut phut’ pops from either speaker as a general snide hum begins to rise and fall. This itself falls prey to other more violent sounds, all cutting, buzzing and felt in the belly like a disembowelling band saw.

But there’s a rhyme and a reason to why, throughout the venue, people are sensing structure and rhythm, finding their own narrative amidst the supposedly sparse and abstract. This is less noise than techno breaking to pieces, a melting circuit board. It’s telling that so much of the output of the Raster-Noton label, which brings art into the club space and vice versa, sounds inspired by, or shares a kinship with, the output of Pan Sonic and Vainio.

It’s a sign of the muscular creativity of contemporary noisy techno-inspired musics that across Kingsland Road three nights later, Pete Swanson plays for Upset The Rhythm. This excellent promotions collective have, over the past decade, carved out a name for themselves as purveyors of skronky, cardigan-wearing underground noise and indie, helping the likes of Ariel Pink, John Maus and Dan Deacon into the fringes of the margins of the edges of the mainstream.

After an awkward set of delayed glitch by Mark Fell, Pete Swanson—complete with baseball cap—is an explosion, a release. Somewhat brilliantly, he plays in the middle of the crowd, just as noise rock duo Lightning Bolt did when they played for Upset The Rhythm on their first trips to the UK a decade ago. It’s a simple trick but it works, breaking up the face-forward dynamic and, like flicking a spinning top into action, generates movement among the crowd. Much more than that though, the sound itself is gloriously dirty, confused, dusty, cracked and wanton. Imagine the careful, clean lines of the expensive polished granite worktops that Raster-Noton honchos surely have in their kitchens being set upon by Blixa Bargeld’s Kango hammer. If we take industrial-tinged techno as the framework—well, that’s the idealised vision of clean lines, a functional building, an efficient forge. Pete Swanson gives you all the rest—the roaring ventilation ducts, the sparks, the pile drivers, the beams of molten metal whipping across a foundry floor. It seems to revel in the tangible caustic gnarl and grind of the very stuff of which it is made.

Increasingly, connections can be drawn between all sorts of musical forms that perhaps four or five years ago would have been hermetically sealed in their own private worlds. Techno’s increasing impact on noise, the thud of a jackhammer growing ever more audible amidst a cloud of grit, is something we’re going to be hearing much more of it seems. It’s (de)construction time again.


Photo: Chris Tipton

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Videodrome #50 – This week’s best videos

Videodrome #50 - This week's best videos New week, new V I D E O D R O M E! Today brings outstanding videos from the likes as Lana Del Rey, Logos, Jazzanova, Of Montreal and many more. Enjoy the ride:

#0 Lana Del Rey – Carmen (self-made)

Again, Lana is dropping an amazing vintage-footage potpourri video – in a class of her own.


#1 Gato Preto – Tschukudu (directed by Lydia Weinstein)

First single from Essen-based Koduro-oufit Gato Preto, which consists of Lee Bass and female vocalist Gata Misteriosa. What a mix.


#2 Joakim – Nothing Gold (directed by Victor Lech)

Tigersushi’s Joakim is back with some sweet downtempo-house, entitled ‘Nothing Gold’ – is there a new album on the way?


#3 Logos – Atlanta 96 (directed by Joss Horne)

This is London’s Logos with his ‘Atlanta 96’ track, taken from the Kowloon EP out since last week on Keysound Recordings.


#4 Postiljonen – Rivers (self-made)

One of the most melodic tracks I have listened after so many days, its like losing into an dream. Really. Dit bara drömmar når by Postiljonen!


#5 Norra Kust – Valley (directed by Mats Wikström)

Here’s the debut single of Norra Kust aka Linus Lahti and Petter Granberg. The swedish-duo is about to release their new album next month via Teg Publishing.


#6 Liars – No.1 Against The Rush (directed by Todd Cole)

Well, it’s the new Liars video – a crazy as always.


#7 THEESatisfaction – QueenS (directed by Dream Hampton)

Listen, groove, repeat. Digging this more and more.


#8 Jazzanova – Believer

Jazzanova is about to play live next Saturday at our EB Festival over in Gdansk, Poland – groove in with this fitting video.


#9 Plastic News – Folding Paper

This was released earlier this month via Chic Marionnette Records and it’s on repeat.


#10 Birthdays – Howolding Girls

Just loving these interplanetary animations and the cool mask projection effect – means: the whole video for the sweet ‘Howolding Girls’ track, out via Fire Talk.


#11 Mo Kolours – Banana Wine (directed by Jim Demuth)

Nice, nice, nice. I am really late on this, but it’s simply bloody good. Track was released through their own label One Handed Records.


#12 Of Montreal – Spiteful Intervention (directed by Jesse Ewles)

The supply chain of psychedelic drugs seems in good shape over in California!


#13 Rey & Kjavik – All Alone (dir.?)

Next month Compost is up for releasing the new Rey & Kjavik album, check this teaser as an delicious appetizer.


#14 Elliphant ft. Adam Kanyama – Tekkno Scene

My latest swedish obsession: Elliphant. And the title, I mean: how cool is this: TEKKNO SCENE. Yes.

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