Mika Vainio – Life (…It Eats You Up)

Former Pan Sonic member Mika Vainio’s solo career has continually evolved over recent years, from experimental electronic-industrial genre mixtures to higher levels of abstraction in pure, distorted noise.  Though his compositions have continued to progress toward the extreme, Life (…It Eats You Up) demonstrates Vainio’s ability to create seemingly uncompromising heaviness while still being able to captivate the more casual listener.

Noise purists feeling unsatisfied with Prurient’s recent ascent into synthesizer-driven musical structures will certainly be appeased by Vainio’s organic approach to noise manipulation, which mostly centers around thick coats of guitar fuzz reminiscent of the late Jason DiEmilio’s style of weighted psychedelic axe drone.  Maintaining the instrument as a damaged and tortured-yet an undeniably recognizable-organism is where the real strength of this record pulsates.  It is what keeps the abstraction accessibly grounded and what allows stand-out tracks, such as the cacophonous “Throat,” to, simply put, rock out.  At the same time, much like Prurient’s Bermuda Drain, Life invites classic industrial influences into the mix, decorating itself with the occasional tinny programmed beat or random bass drop to add balance to moments of otherwise shrill harshness.  Listeners might very well even mistake the opening of “Mining” for Nine Inch Nails’ “Closer.”  But probably not.

This tendency to satisfy both the noise fanatic and the music enthusiast is one of Vainio’s trademark talents, so it is no surprise that he succeeds in walking the difficult tightrope between ear-piercing brutality and a more conventionally pleasurable aesthetic–a taste for variety possibly carried over from his genre-bending work in Pan Sonic.  Tracks such as “A Ravenous Edge” are doom-drenched dirges a la Sunn O)), while others sharply scrape rusty metal in the vein of Merzbow or Kevin Drumm’s Sheer Hellish Miasmah.  It is, however, in songs like “Open Up and Bleed” (no, that is not a coincidence, Vainio is in fact covering The Stooges) that we see that the project’s exploration of more sonically disturbing territory has not completely abandoned former paradigms of musicality altogether.  In what could have been a truly difficult record, Vainio has come out shining brilliantly, using an inventive boldness to give us a refreshingly unique approach to a noise record that will likely earn him a new following.


Mika Vainio – Throat


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