Monday, 15 July 2013

Mika Vainio - Kilo (Blast First Petite)

According to The Staple Singers in 1971, Heavy Makes You Happy, and so it came to be when Mika Vainio's Kilo landed with an almighty THUMP! on my PC last week - honest, the hard drive trembled. A weighty (oh, ha-ha) album for sure, but 'too rock' according to The Wire if the Blast First site is to be believed (I couldn't find a review in my copies). Too rock? I almost know what the writer means, but Vainio has ditched the guitar in favour of a 3-ton synthesizer made from granite so should you fear anything like Black Sabbath-meets-Pan Sonic, don't fret.

It's inspired by the shipping container industry. Yes it is. And that, you have to admit, is original. Picture Mika stood dockside watching huge crates being loaded...the automated heavy industrial machines doing their job...the enormity of the vessels...thinking 'I'm inspired! Their movement, weight and size will form the basis of my new album!'

Yes, it's heavy; more than a kilo. On a scale of 1 to 10, it must be 8. If we equate heaviness with density of sound, as we surely must, I don't own many heavy albums. But gravitas is another matter, and in that sense I consider Ornette Coleman's The Shape Of Jazz To Come a very heavy album. To continue the nautical/industrial theme, you might like to include Robert Wyatt's Shipbuilding, or Gavin Bryars' The Sinking of the Titanic. Then there's Drexciya's briny sci-fi mythology...well, this album's like a trip with Doctor Blowfin to the very depths...feel the pressure....we're twenty thousand leagues under the sea...Sub-atlantic (one of the finest tracks).

Whilst the palette's minimal, the interplay between layers of density demands attention. As you'll know from his work in Pan Sonic, Vainio understands space as well as the best dub engineers, and proves it on Load, where the briefest drops into negative space (near silence) heighten the dramatic build-up towards ear-pummelling electronics. Along with Alberich's recent release, it's good to have another weapon to use against workman who insist on digging up the road outside my window.

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