Looking Outwards 11: Mika Vainio

Mika Vainio is of Finnish descent but is currently based in Oslo, Norway. Since the 80’s, Vainio has been involved in the experimental sound art movement and played with the electronics to participate in the Finnish industrial and noise scene.

Vainio delves into minimal avant techno in his earlier practices. He also works under several pseudonyms such as ‘Ø’, ‘Philus’, and a duo known as Pan Sonic. Pan Sonic credits a lot of its inspiration to early industrial sound artists like Throbbing Gristle and Suicide. Vainio often remarks that their music is a cross of these two schools of music, taking the harsh and pure sounds typical of industrial techno and stretching them out into longer, subdued soundscapes reminiscent of instrumental reggae and dub.

Lots of their sounds are created using samples and an MPC2000 Sequencer. This device is now considered a “Vintage Unit”, but at the time it was responsible for the advancement of Vainio’s experimental sound practice.

On his website, I found a list of the current technology he uses during his performances and installations today:

1 MIDI keyboard (minimum of 2 octaves, 24 keys) to control his synthesizer, plus stand (with power adaptor, No USB)

with faders, 4 mono channels and 4 STEREO (!!) channels minimum, pre and post switches for fx, three range EQ and – most important! –  2 aux out-sends

  • 2 good monitor speakers
  • Mika Vainio can either use 1/4 inch (jack) and XLR for output
  • Strong, good quality PA
    Powerful subwoofers should go down to 20 Hz
    Overall range 20 Hz – 20 kHz
  • Mika Vainio will bring a case of approx. 20 kg which includes :
    Korg SX sampler/ sequencer, Lexicon FX unit, Vermona Mono Lancet synthesizer, OTO sound processing unit.

These two pieces in particular really caught my eye (ear). They’re from the early 90’s, but that’s besides the point. They’re both very experimental, and give off almost “extraterrestrial” vibes if that makes sense. There’s not much white noise, so the gaps between the sounds are very quiet… Silent almost. It’s very eerie, it almost reminds me of the stillness and curious nature of outer space itself. I love it.


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