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Ø - Oleva


O - Oleva (Sakho)

One of the true masters of minimalism, Mika Vainio continues the aesthetic of more downtempo abstraction that he began to explore in last year’s Kantomoinen. This time though, melodies are slowly beginning to resurface in his work, lacing the space created by thudding bass and the halo-like atmosphere of sheer electricity that he manages to reproduce with such skill. Vainio’s ability has always been to make his music sound so clean, almost unnaturally pure in its ambience, but always lurking near the surface has been unadulterated noise, ready to pierce the silence.

In a peculiar turn, he produces an abstract version of Pink Floyd’s “Set the Controls for the Heart of the Sun”, which loses most of the melody and is filled instead with pealing bells and some soaring ambience. Elsewhere the middle ground between drones, industrial noise and classic Sakho-esque minimalism is explored most notably in “Frekvessi” and “Vastus”, the relative low tempo of both tracks creating an unsettling atmosphere. “Oleva” isn’t particularly cohesive despite having a strong identity in the sounds used, but Vainio is, as noted before, in exploratory mode here and it’s an album filled with abrupt changes, twists and turns. He finishes with the strangely calm “Muistetun palaava taajuus”, which bookends the album in a uneasy fashion. Vainio’s strength is that he has found a space in electronic music that is his own, and no-one, except for Sleeparchive, who fails to muster the same sort of organic atmospheres with electronic instrumentation that make the O project so interesting, makes music like him, and as such his releases are always a rewarding experience.

 Toby Frith

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