“Mika [Vainio] was not only a friend and collaborator, but also an inspiration for my work as an artist. This is a celebration of his contribution to our work.” - Carsten Nicolai, aka Alva Noto.
In September 2002, three luminaries of the electronic music scene came together at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Newcastle, for a collaborative performance that would be lost to the halls of time for near 16 years. It re-emerged in recorded form just this month, sadly with Mika Vainio no longer with us, having tragically passed away last year aged just 53. Given this context, the release takes on a new meaning, paying tribute to the Finnish artist’s staggering legacy; one which saw him collaborate with everyone from Björk to Alan Vega, and even face legal action from Japanese tech giant Panasonic for the name of his collaboration with Ilpo Väisänen and Sami Salo. For this reason, it was renamed – and became best known as – Pan Sonic.
The timing of the release is fitting in more ways than one however. It also comes following the separation of Raster-Noton. Having diverged into Raster Media and NOTON last year due to the difficulties of running a label from different corners of the world, Live 2002 makes a bold mission statement for the newly independent NOTON.
It is also an invitation to consider the alignments and divergences of the three artists, offering a listen which is in many ways typical of all of them, yet hard to imagine them constructing individually. Across the 11 ‘movements’, you will find Noto’s characteristically deft static polyrhythms, the laboratory precision of Ikeda’s Test Pattern LP, and the deeply meditative alternative ambience of much of Mika Vainio’s offerings on Sähkö, in abundance.
This is music wired directly from the mainframe; grinding electronics building to insurmountable pressure. A marching anthem for the technological generation if you will, and both a stunning tribute and timely reminder of Vainio’s legacy from two who knew him closely.