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|24 May 2017||
Mika Vainio - Reat
It was not much more than a few weeks since his tragic and premature death when German label Elektro Musik announced they would press their first vinyl for a decade, and that it was to be non other than Mika Vainio's latest LP. Recorded in Oslo in late 2016, Reat will be his first posthumous release.
Opener Give 'Em Hell Echo Papa! spins into life with the dizzying, rotating thud of a helicopter rotor blade, which Vainio then amplifies 'till it becomes a distorted wall of noise that gives rise to shuffling percussion; with deep intensity, melodic synths wash over the metallic hats and delicately abrasive snares, while screaming harmonies occasionally reach up, making themselves heard against the brutalizing force of heavily grunged guitars. The stripped, percussive intro is industrial in nature and soon begins to chime with eerie atmospherics on A Season In Harar 1881, before being consumed by a dense cloud of whirring machines and electrostatic noise—a propulsion method that is perfectly keeping with its surroundings, until a curiously calming and monastic outro provides a contrasting conclusion. Horse Can Stand takes on a similar aesthetic as the previous track, with elongated, off-kilter loops of mechanoid percussion, bringing to mind an image of a staggering drunk; quizzical harmonics make for a mysterious ambiance, becoming more prominent as the track develops until being played out by horns, much similar to those at a medieval regatta. The mystique and tension is palpable on Diderik & Iselin, heavy and oppressed: the acutely focused, reverberated kicks are teamed with glitched FX and give an impression of extreme concentration, projecting an image of a night stalker in pursuit of an unsuspecting victim, while an unraveling harmony glitters like jewels out of the darkness, redolent of a deranged and sleep deprived mind, playing out as a soundtrack to unattainable desires. The break-beaten Gear has some mean attitude: heavily textured kicks and coarse snares are joined by short, sharp hi-hats that mimic the sound of a whip; feelings of disorientation and confusion set in as the beating goes on, characterized by oscillating and dubbed, droning melodies, while being played out on more riffed guitar synth and warped basslines. Gently reverberated but assertive, bass kicks get things moving in And Around Coils Of Horns, accompanied by buzzing FX that manifest as a house fly trapped in a window box—restless and irritated, looking for a way out; at the midpoint, mechanised humming wells up, before it conjures up electro-acoustic musings that charter the unknown with deep space harmonics. Hard as hell, flattened bass kicks spew wickedly stretched out and distorted basslines every second hit on penultimate track Ant Steamtrap, while sharp and hollowed, much as hypodermic needles, hi-hats puncture the thick, heavy atmosphere; with slow burning, antiquated machinery, it feels that this devilishly mutant hip-hop excursion comes from the age of steam. Heavily distorted kick drums on Secondhand Twilight are washed in a back spray of their own sub-bass, whilst the prickling and clicking of micro electronic FX seem to drift in the currents, bobbing up and down on the surface of a sea of slightly melancholic, but beautifully uplifting ambient melodies, giving the end of this album an air of optimism.
Who knows if this release will be the last recorded work of the late, great Mika Vainio, a legendary producer no doubt, taken from us way too early. To my ears, Reat is up there with some of his finest solo work—there is great diversity in the sound across all of these eight tracks, displaying the dismaying fact that perhaps the best was yet to come. As with all the best artists, Vainio just kept getting more out of his chosen instruments and I'm sure kept finding more within himself as well.
Words by b.yond.
Release Type: Album
Release Date: 24 May 2017
Release Format: Vinyl
Record Label • Catalog: Elektro Musik Department • EMD020