What Mika Vainio Means to Me

Last week, we published an article exploring the concept of noise. Just days later, on Thursday, we received news that the electronic music world has lost one of its noise icons. Mika Vainio was an experimental Finnish producer and founder of Pan Sonic whose work made noteworthy contributions to the genres of glitch, noise, drone and techno. A day after Vainio’s passing, Rogér Rogér puts pen to paper, keeping this experimental pioneer’s legacy alive with a playlist.

Well over six months ago, Quintin asked me if I’d be interested in contributing to his online magazine, which would eventually turn out to be the Strange Sounds From Beyond magazine that you are looking at right now. Though lots of thoughts and feelings are encountered and experienced every day, I didn’t really feel like I had something relevant to contribute at the time.

Today I am forced to finally break the silence. Thanks to numerous digital sources and outlets, it has come to our understanding that we have lost the unique soul and voice of Mika Vainio. At only 53, it is sufficient to say that the legendary producer and avant-garde audio experimentalist from Kuopio, Finland died too young yesterday afternoon.

Although considered today to be one of the most important pioneers of modern electronic music in its current form, it feels unjust to me how little people of my generation understand of the significance of Vainio’s output and the legacy he left behind. We are speaking of a man who brought a different texture and a whole new color scheme to the realms of the minimalistic avant-garde; one who paved the way for new forms of techno music to exist within that process.

As I am listening back to his early Sähkö releases, I have regained my love for his music and recovered the consciousness of being able to experience his creations wherever I am and whenever I can. And as I revisit the absolute magic of the Tulkinta compilation, I am taken by waves of nostalgic deepness back to the spring or summer of 2005 where a hard-rock version of myself stumbled upon it. Definitely not knowing what to expect. Not knowing that the way I would perceive electronic music was about to be changed forever. I remember having grabbed it off the shelves because for some reason, my body just gravitated towards its cover.

In retrospect, I now realize that I had, at that very defining moment, found a way of recognizing electronically produced music as a new form of communication. And the extremely bare and minimalist tones that I was hearing expanded my all-observing mind in a way that would allow me to appreciate the beauty in the works of artists like Aphex Twin and Brian Eno. Please mind that I was a guitarist, a composing musician and, at the time, someone who regarded electronic composers to be total cheaters. I see now that Mika Vainio, in particular his “Ø” project, was the gateway drug and the stimulant that triggered the personal process by which I came to appreciate that all these guys are in fact musicians too.

All in all, there is lots that can be said about Vainio’s work. But words are useless and inequitable in expressing how much his music means to me. Rather than continue to brag about his life and the things he has done, it feels more appropriate to “let the music do the talking”, so here’s an introductory course into the world of Sähkö recordings and a way to channel the emotions evoked from listening to his music.

I’d like to end with a really great YouTube comment I came across that perfectly translates my personal sentiment into words.

“This is how sentient machines say I love you”