Friday, September 24, 2004

Pan Sonic review written in haste for Discorder......


Pan Sonic
-outhern acific+
Richard’s on Richards
September 23
How strange, to experience an abstract electronica show within the drafty and sticky-floored environs of Richard’s on Richards. Certainly it wasn’t the ideal launch pad for one of -outhern acific+’s tripzone excursions. –oa+ is the nom d’electronique of Vancouver scenester extraordinaire Joshua Stevenson, a sometime member of continent-spanning free-rock phenomenon Jackie O Motherfucker. You never know quite what to expect from an –oa+ show – glitchy computer music, proggy ambience, recontextualised world music... On this occasion he employed all manner of distressed analogue hardware to create a murky, nocturnal fug - similar to that conjured by UK dark ambient veterans :zoviet*france:. The set was well complemented by a projection of flashing, fading lo-bit visuals but - let’s face it – this kind of thing is better appreciated whilst contemplating the texture of one’s bedroom ceiling or the floor of a nice white-cube gallery.

As soon as Finland’s kings of brute minimalism took the stage, it became clear why we were standing in a cavernous rock club, not sitting in a cosy art centre. Pan Sonic’s current sound – as displayed at extraordinary length on the recent four-CD set Ketso ­– is LOUD. Though their modus operandi of beats’n’drones has remained firmly intact, Mika Vainio and Ilpo Vaisanen have at least progressed enough as artists to allow generic influences to seep into their fundamentally hermetic sound-world. Pan Sonic 2004-style deploys blasts of mid-range noise that would impress any metal act worth its salt and booty-shaking beats low-slung enough to shame a Miami bass producer. In short, they rocked and nerds were seen to dance (a spiritually enriching, though aesthetically un-edifying sight).

The visual accompaniment for the set comprised a simple black line that waved and fragmented in response to the music. Though the relationship between sound and visuals was clear, what was more striking was how the projection reflected the remarkable physical and psychological responses induced – big, hip-swinging waves for the elektro beats, chaotic snowstorms for the gushes of white noise. Through sheer force of Pan Sonic will, the duo made us forget about beer-sticky floors and autumnal draft for one mesmerizing hour. Truly transporting – clearly a little still goes a long way.
Sam Macklin.

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