Since the dissolution of Pan Sonic in 2009, Finnish electronic producer Mika Vainio has continued to release solo material at a prolific rate, and this latest album on Editions Mego ‘Life (…It Eats You Up)’ follows last year’s collaborative venture alongside Kouhei Matsunaga and Autechre’s Sean Booth. In many senses, this latest collection represents a substantial shift in Vainio’s creative approach – while previous releases have utilised guitar, the instrument forms the primary sound source for the first time on these ten tracks. While the tools may have changed however, the primary intent remains the same, with Vainio building his intricately constructed walls of noise and pure texture to towering, almost crushing levels. ‘In Silence A Scream Takes A Heart’s unfurls proceedings with an epic 13 minute long wander through the distant wraith-like swirl of squealing guitar feedback and fretboard scrapes, almost teasing sadistically as it winds up the sense of gathering tension before colossal droning fuzzed-out powerchords suddenly burst forward like a breaking tidal wave, white noise bursts curling away beneath the crunching distortion.
‘Mining’ meanwhile sits closer to the monotonous industrial hiphop stomp of Techno Animal or Scorn as relentless noise burst beats carve a path through churning, poisonous sounding guitar sludge as subtle digital treatments peek their heads up from beneath the howling amp feedback, while ‘Crashed’, despite its title manages to offer up one of this album’s comparatively gentler moments as guitar harmonics and howling feedback build into cinematic, almost orchestral-sounding swells of rolling, gauzy bass. I have to confess though that my favourite track here was easily the cover of The Stooges’ ‘Open Up And Bleed’, with Vainio deconstructing the Iggy classic into a funereal wander through slow, dirge-like beats and churning walls of guitar noise that sees his vocals pitched down into a near-unintelligible crawl that simply adds to the sense of venomous menace. In many senses, this could easily be Mika Vainio’s most ‘metal’ record yet.