Artwork and photography by Jon Wozencroft
Cut by Jason at Transition
Side A: Behind the Radiator Part 1 - 2:52 +
Side B: Behind the Radiator Part 2 - 2:58 +
Mika Vainio continues the series of Touch Sevens, 7" vinyl-only releases, with this stunning record. The crackle... The fire of the analogue... Mika Vainio is the most adept at using crackle as a voice. Sound artists have used crackle ever since the reality of digital audio hit home, however there's a big difference between this and how other practitioners use it...
Here are two tracks recorded by Mika in Berlin this February.
He has released 3 solo albums for Touch under his own name [Onko, 1997; Kajo, 2000 and In the Land of the `blind, One-Eyed is King, 2003. He is perhaps best known as part of the Finnish duo, Pan Sonic, and he also releases work as Ø for Finnish label, Säkhö Recordings.
7" vinyl was the quintessential format for popular music. Today, it is an undervalued and mostly promotional medium, used as a fetishistic signpost to a time of musical authenticity and a "healthy" popular culture. It might seem like another retrograde step to launch a vinyl series just as the download format threatens to dominate, and indeed there is an element of "the rear view mirror"... the generation of Touch artists who grew up with vinyl [and cassette] still feeling a strong emotional attachment to it. This series is more than that... an overtly critical, non-digital statement is supported by treatments of audio work which cannot be applied to digital formats - the sonic texture, the use of a locked groove, the A & the B and the additional dimension of the visual counterpoint. As for the aspect of audience participation, we choose not to specify the RPM on the label, encouraging the listener to experiment with playback options and personal preferences. An attempt to make music that works at both speeds. The front cover might actually be the back cover...
This latest addition to Touch's always essential 7" series takes the form of two new tracks from Mika Vainio, recorded a few months back in Berlin. Both productions feel brilliantly tailored to the format, forging a language out of rich, crackling layers of hum and minimal popping rhythms that flirt with the illusion of being a particularly beautiful and freakish occurrence of surface noise. The A-side is especially evocative of this, structured around a stumbling mid-tempo loop and a chilly swell of sustain and airflow tonality. As with so much of Vainio's best work, this is a recording that's at once clearly rooted in forward-thinking electronic music, whilst vividly drawing on vintage sonic elements and analogue instability. Flipping over, the companion piece operates in a similar fashion, although the beat seems to modulate in a fashion that would have you believe it's straying out of time, attracting micro-rhythms fabricated from crackle textures. The end result sounds a little like an Alva Noto record that's been pressed up on some mucky, ramshackle run of vinyl; or perhaps even the first Opto album by Noto and Opiate's Thomas Knak. In any case, Behind The Radiators is another compelling triumph for Touch's singles club, and it's one which exhibits a real understanding and love for the format. ESSENTIAL PURCHASE!
Mika Vainio contributes to Touch's collectable 7" series. A warlock of extreme frequency abuse and static manipulation, Vainio harnesses these elements and creates two richly textured and varied tracks. With the aid of Transition mastering from 'Jason' - a name synonymous within the dubstep community - this little 7" carries a lot of weight and will be an essential listen for fans of this masterful producer. Highly recommended.
The Wire (UK):
The less noisy half of Pan Sonic tosses dust into the ring and scrapes out some of the space behind the hot places where no one else wants to look. This is kind of like listening to James Gang's Thirds, waiting for the "turn me over and play me again" thing to start, then realising there are a bunch of little flying sauces floating outside your dorm room window. And you're tripping and it's sunny and maybe you should just step outside for a long cool drink of water. [Bryon Coley]
Part six in the Touch Seven Series is for Mika Vainio. With Behind the Radiators he shows exactly how a 7" release should be presented. 2 short tracks of crackling records and hiss brought with delicate care.
As teenager when I was just discovering electronic music (around the age of 16) the salesman in the local recordshop was a good help in making me discover some of great releases. It was at that time I already got to know some of the gems of the scene like Metri by Mika Vainio, up to this day still one of the most impressive albums in the minimal glitch and micromusic scene. By that time I had no clue who this person was, but later I found out that he was half of the amazing Pan Sonic. Now 14 years on in my life, being the one who could give that same advice to youngsters who want to discover electronic music, I am again listening to Mika Vainio, though this time it is a new release, a 7" for the Touch Seven Series.
Behind the Radiators is a 2 track counting release recorded by Vainio in the city of Berlin. So far in the series this has proved to be the best suitable one in the series. Two short tracks both played at 45rpm created from vinyl cracks and hiss.
When the 7" starts playing on the A side first you get the idea of a record with just one locked groove, though slowly other layers of dust and hiss are added building the music up in a very minimal but lovely way. It is maybe nothing new, but done with so much care that it becomes a very delicate track that shouldn't be missed.
Side B starts in a similar way but with different sources. Again skipping vinyl and loads of dust scratches. Starting with a simple vinyl scratch loop sounds are added leading to one huge climax of scratches and sine tones/noise that form shifting patterns. Some of the sounds do stay as a constant, but most show very small subtle changes over time.
Mika Vainio shows with this short release that he is still capable of making some gems. Behind the Radiators is a very nice release which shouldn't be missing in a collection, especially if you are a fan of micro and glitch music. [Sietse van Erve]