Recording information: Berlin (2005-2011); Olkiluoto 3 Construction Site (2005-2011).
Editor: Mika Vainio.
Influential Finnish experimental electronic duo Pan Sonic (Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen) officially disbanded at the end of 2009, but several recordings from their final years have surfaced since then. This album, recorded between 2005 and 2011 and edited by Vainio in 2015, makes up the soundtrack for Atomin Paluu, a Finnish documentary about the construction of the first nuclear power plant since the 1986 Chernobyl meltdown. The duo integrate field recordings from the building site with their usual cold, stark electronics. At times, it's hard to tell if the explosions and drilling sounds are sourced from the construction site or created by Vainio and Väisänen. The album's 12 tracks span a wide range, from sparse, desolate drones to caustic rhythmic noise tracks with broken drumbeats and harshly buzzing synths. The second track (there are no titles) contains one of the album's most consistent rhythms, but the 11th is more complex, beginning with polyrhythmic crackling and beeping before switching to damaged industrial pummeling. The album's middle section generally shifts away from beat-driven material, focusing on suspenseful ambient compositions. The longer pieces on the album take their time to build up washes of static and white noise, but they eventually attack with precise bursts of feedback and waves of distortion and glitch effects. This album is a bracing listening experience on a pair of headphones, but it must be devastating in a movie theater with high-definition Surround Sound. Sure enough, it won the award for Best Original Score at the Jussi Awards (Finland's equivalent of the Oscars). ~ Paul Simpson