Mika Vainio (Pan Sonic), RIP
It is with an extremely heavy heart that I report that Finnish trailblazer of experimental and challenging music Mika Vainio has passed away at the age of 53. The cause of death is as yet unknown, but his passing has been confirmed by representatives and family. In 1993, Vainio co-founded iconic electronic outfit Pan Sonic with Ilpo Väisänen, and Sami Salo. When Salo left in 1996, the group remained a duo. Prior to breaking up in 2009, Pan Sonic, originally called Panasonic until 1998, released 12 studio albums and 8 live albums (the 8th, recorded in 2009, came out in 2014), as well as several EPs. In 2015, the Mika and Ilpo scored the documentary Atomin paluu (The Return of the Atom) (trailer below).
In addition to his work with Pan Sonic, Vainio was a prolific solo artist, releasing volumes of solo material under his own name and under several pseudonyms, including Ø and Philus. In his solo works, Vainio relentlessly explored the nuances and pushed the boundaries of noise, electronic, techno, and industrial as well as other uncharted avenues within the fringes and dark alleys of electronic sound. His masterpiece Black Telephone of Matter made it onto my year end list of 2016 where I noted, "You can forget about getting locked into any sort of groove anywhere on this album. Once you feel like you are locked into a pattern, Vainio will slap you with a left turn that will either deafen you or force you to prick up your ears to find the hidden bits of sound peppering the silence." Listen to a track below.
The sonic journeys this man has put me on are some of the most challenging, enlightening, and important ones in my aural history. That his output has so prematurely been cut short has me and scores of fans and admirers well and truly gutted. RIP Mika Vainio.