Mika Vainio: Kilo – album review

Mika Vainio Kilo Cover


Available from 17th June 2013 


Mika Vainio, one half of Finnish minimal electronic duo PanSonic, has a new record of atmospheric industrial music coming out. Louder Than War contributor Craig Johnson has been having a listen.

To be honest, it’s exactly what you’re expecting. It’s slow, atmospheric and industrial. The fact that it’s so predictable isn’t a bad thing though as that’s exactly how Mika Vainio made his name. If you’re good at something, why give up?

In a time where electronic musicians seem to spawn from every corner of the world, it’s easy for music to start sounding the same without any differentiation between what has merit and what doesn’t. In this case, Kilo is a really great document of how to make industrial ambience sound very, very good.

What we have here is a weird mix of ambient soundscapes and beat-heavy industrial trance; it feels like a soundtrack to some sort of brutalist post-apocalyptic rave. In my mind, it conjures up black and white images of deserted industrial space, filled with jagged edges and metal structures. It’s stark, yes, but it’s also quite therapeutic. I can sort of switch off and let myself become fully engrossed in this alternate world. Ironically, it’s not the sort of music you want to share with others.

I’m aware that writing this piece means I’m sharing my thoughts on the music with you but I mean share in a different sense. It’s an album that you only ever want to listen to when you’re on your own; late at night, early in the morning, any time of day as long as you aren’t in a group of people. I cant imagine this being the soundtrack to a dinner party or on the office stereo. This is subtle music that’s made specifically for the recluse. The person that wants to sit in his own company and be overcome by the powerful imagery these bursts of sound create.

The juxtaposition of calm, atmospheric pieces and heavy industrial beats work to give an almost frightening nightmare like state on track such as Scale. The whole album fits together with a strange contrast running throughout. At times it feels like it’s about to collapse in on itself, then comes a sudden burst of energy in the form of an industrial barrage or a eerie screech.

It’s removed from reality in a sense that it manages to project an alternative, abstract setting. I can’t imagine it soundtracking anything other than this industrial landscape I view in my mind. I think there’s a definite divide in the style of tracks here.

While some do have that calmer, more subdued tone, other has, overall, a fiercer and driving sound. Luckily though, they work together in perfect harmony. Never sounding out of place, the whole album flows and each new sound follows on logically, never letting you awake from the industrial dreamland you’ve suddenly found yourself part of.

I’m actually going to see Mika Vainio play at The Sage, Gateshead in June and am eagerly waiting being transported into this dream like state. I just want to be sat in a dark room, his industrial soundtrack taking me away from the reality of the world outside. Even just for a short period of time, I have a feeling it’ll be fantastic.

Read more about Mika Vainio at Media Loca here.

All word by Craig Johnson. More of Craig’s writing for Louder Than War can be found here. You can find his blog at: craigness.wordpress.com. You can follow him on twitter at: @_craigness


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  1. Eagerly awaiting this. He was cracking at the Sage.

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