Review: Gagarin Kombinaatti was one of Mika Vainio's early projects back in the 1980s, a time when techno hadn't truly discovered itself, or broken off form the industrial / post-punk scene. In our books, this is perhaps one of the most interesting and exciting era for electronic music. This compilation of tunes isn't really dance, but it isn't totally removed from the warehouse scene, either. Tunes like "Vartioparaati", which have more in common with noise, still retain a sense of movement and rhythm, and the same goes for the metallic, lo-fi jams like "Ukaasi" or "Alkupera". The sounds are a mixture of analogue and the organic sound effects that these dudes played with back in Finland. Oh, and did we mention it's on our favourite label, Sahko?
Review: Finnish bleep techno institution Sahko (via their Jimi Tenor helmed sublabel Puu) unleash these retrospective works by a relatively unknown producer. "Ofelia" was produced 20 years ago, the demo was lying in a drawer for 18 years until Ismo Laakso rediscovered the tapes - said to be produced between 1996-1999 and still sounding contemporary today. '80s industrial sounds blend with neo classical parts and contemporary drone music like on "Translucent", building up to insane Dadaist pieces like "Koskenhaltija" or the title track - which deconstruct the human voice in amazing fashion.
Review: With releases across Workshop, Meakusma and Hinge Finger, Madteo has shown himself to be one of the underground's most interesting figures, creating downtempo, druggy hybrids of hip-hop and deep house with a loose, MPC feel. Finnish purveyors of leftfield electronics Sahko may not be the most obvious home for his dusty brand of music, but on listening to Noi No it makes total sense; for the most part the album takes a beatless approach, "Rut-A-Round" combines sludgy drones with serene chords, "Gory Glory" feels like a house track with the beats missing, while "Vox Your Nw Yr Resolution" is a drowsy collection of vocal cut-ups, though "Dead Drop" is a bonafide dancefloor killer created in the way only Madteo could. Somewhere between sepia-tinted deep house and glacial glitch, Noi No sounds like nothing else released this year. Highly recommended.
Review: New to Sahko and releasing in general, Finnish band Modern Feelings are here to send your head spinning in a whirlwind of free jazz and noise. Their debut album was purportedly recorded along to an inspirational soundtrack of muzak, giving rise to this polar opposite melee of tumbledown drums, strangled guitars and every other possible sound source that can be thrown in the arrhythmic blender. Within this chaos comes a delicacy and dexterity that may be applied to each individual player on their own insular journey rather than the band as a cohesive whole, but somewhere in the mix something magic is created. With the noisier elements moving away from the band dynamic to a more electronic focus and then moving back to a more grounded instrumental foundation, there is quite a range of frequencies expressed on Modern Feelings, but they're unified in their power to confound.
Review: It has been three years since the last O album graced Mika Vainio's regular haunt Sahko, and now he returns with another long player steeped in haunting tones, vibrant sound design and calculated intensity. The crystalline percussion that Vainio has always been known for is here in abundance, cutting through dense walls of drone in slow and precise formations. The ominous musical content itself is utterly compelling, like a seething biomass of harmonic elements that can be viewed as a whole or broken down into its component parts. The method is the magic in electronica of this nature, and Vainio has never sounded more in control of his art.
Review: In the pantheon of minimal techno, Mika Vainio's name should be as exalted as Robert Hood or Dan Bell. That the Finnish producer is not as well-known as these US producers is a pity, but hopefully the re-release of PH will go some way to making his name known among the new generation. Originally released almost a quarter of a century ago, this four-tracker bristles with raw intensity. At one end of Vainio's repertoire are hypnotic, layered bleep tracks like "Untitled 1" and "Untitled 3", which have influenced everyone from Sandwell District, Mike Parker and Sleeparchive. At the other end there's the Finnish artist's more abrasive sound, which is captured best on the searing acid and visceral percussive avalanche that unfolds on "Untitled II". Like all great music, PH is impervious to the passage of time.
Review: Mika Vainio first released Kolmio back in 1993, but it still sounds up to date. Indeed, listening to the hypnotic, pulsing bleeps and blips of "Ionit" and the colder, menacing tones of "Kuvio 3", it is obvious where acts like Sleeparchive and Function took their inspiration from. Apart from the fact that Vainio's vision for minimal techno was less visceral and abrasive than Robert Hood's, what's also striking about this classic EP is that Vainio was unafraid to flirt with varying tempos, and the mysterious tones of "Telectro" and the teased out acid of "Acidophilus" portray an innovator in action - even after all these years.
Review: Brand new Finnish Sahko action for all you leftfield freaks out there - and nobody can do like these guys! With only a 7" behind them, Soft Focus are already shaping up to be serious contenders in the field; 11 tracks in total and all of the absolutely stunning, ranging from the eastern chimes of "EEG" to more improvisational and field-recording based harmonics of "Polysomnographic" or "Emergence Delirium", Soft Focus bring back the orchestral aspects of brass and string instruments to more experimental territories. "Cauchemard" with its deranged piano keys and background synth-work is another stunner but also tracks like "Hypersomnia" or "Quietus" really shine through in this incredible world of dreamy atmospherics and delicate but bizarre patterns - highly recommended.
Review: What can we say...anything remotely linked to Mika Vainio is always liable to cause shivers of delight with us, and this time we have a nice, full, digital re-issue of the artist's second and probably most diverse piece of work on his native Finland's Sahko Recordings. Olento is a seriously pioneering piece of work and it's power lies within the incredible subtlety of Vainio's production style: starting with "Oleva", a beautifully improvisational clutter of piano keys and vinyl crackles, the album sets the scene for a mesmeric voyage into analog electronics and mind-bending drones. "Stratostaatti" is another gem and it showcases Vainio's ethereal dub tactics, something which runs throughout the work; it would do no good to simply describe the entirety of this release, and such works as "Ohipumppu" or "Mugwump" are the blueprints for techno as we know it nowadays. If you're into anything remotely linked to the last twenty years of electronics, you would be committing a sacrilege by not picking this up - essential.