Life (…It Eats You Up) Life (…It Eats You Up)

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Mika Vainio Mika VainioLife (…It Eats You Up)

8.1 / 10

Mika Vainio  Life (…It Eats You Up) EDITIONS MEGO

For a long time, Mika Vainio has wanted to make a record with guitars. Not a rock record, but a composition of which the basis of the sound would be the sharpness of electric guitars; re-tuned, manipulated with software and reinforced with all the feedback in the world. Guitars that, as soon as they were touched - BANG! - would spit out a venomous note, prolonged long enough to scratch your skin. Long, hanging guitars like on Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo's experimental records; but even more amorphous, industrial, even denser than Kevin Drumm's material. For over a decade, the idea has been there. Sometimes, Vainio used a guitar, but never as the main raw material for his sound: more like an embellishment. He experimented with it on his collaborations - with Chicks On Speed or the Vladeslav Delay Quartet - while he was developing his main career with submarine ambient probes, or icy techno-dub with Pan Sonic. But the desire was there and sooner or later, he had to act on it. “Life (…It Eats You Up)” is that guitar record. And it feels like it's tearing off your skin.

The influence of progressive doom metal bands from labels such as Hydra Head, Southern Lord and even Editions Mego (Stephen O’Malley's home for his non-Sunn O))) work, his KTL project alongside Pete Rehberg) seems to have been the final push for Mika Vainio to finally take the step. Some phases of this “Life (…It Eats You Up)” are pretty close to the old Earth records and the barely bearable manoeuvre of many an experimental guitarist who use drone as their main resource (there's some Jim O’Rourke, too). Never the less, Vainio has enough experience and personality to understand the context he's moving in and also to not step in the trap of imitation.

Another necessary observation is that this album isn't strictly a “guitar” album. The riffs are supported by dynamic beats, comparable to those of a free jazz band if - instead of playing around a saxophone (Ornette Coleman, for example) – they chose to play around a razor-sharp drone, with electronic support so cold it leaves you pale faced. The listener should be warned that listening to this is at their own risk: the first 13 minutes (on “In A Silence A Scream Takes A Heart”) - a piece of hard noise to crack - will separate the men from the boys. Once the initial shock has passed, the most difficult obstacle overcome, “Life (…It Eats You Up)” doesn't become much easier; but at least you'll know how to avoid the mines. The short pieces ( “Napoleon”, “Cage”) make moving a little bit more comfortable, giving you a breath of fresh air with their higher frequency of silences. Until you reach the final nine minutes of “A Ravenous Edge”, where he resurrects the post-techno of “Gravitoni” (Pan Sonic's last album), wrapped in a tribute to the slow metal that sounds like the doors of hell opening. All in all, a radical album: one that provokes ulcers.

Robert Gras

“In Silence A Scream Takes A Heart”

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