This is progress.
To have seen Pan Sonic live is to have witnessed a display of astonishing intensity and beautiful mechanical brutality. Quite why the ascetic Finnish duo rarely capture this splendour on record is a matter which has troubled idle noise aficionados for years. ‘Aaltopiiri’ will doubtless perplex them further.
Possessors of an extreme and singular vision, Mika Vainio and Ilpo Vaisanen might well have admitted to listening to a good deal of ’70s progressive rock while making their fourth album, but its effect on their austere, physical sound is untraceable. Here is another dry collection of sullen machine drones and subtle tonal manipulation; signals to the outside world explaining that all is well in Pan Sonic’s overpoweringly masculine universe.
Only when their stubbornness subsides, when they can repress their rage no longer, does ‘Aaltopiiri’ evolve. Its final quarter is a mesh of menacing static scoured by pounding industrial rhythms, sculpted by the abrasive shrill of electric saws gnawing on sheets of steel. ‘Kierto’ especially is the closest they’ve come to recreating the visceral terror of their stage show. And for Pan Sonic, trudging ever forwards, this is progress.