Pan Sonic Kesto (234:48:4)

Pan Sonic Kesto (234:48:4)
After a massive world tour that nearly killed them, instead of holing up at home for a little down time, Finnish duo Pan Sonic (Mika Vainio and Ilpo Vaisanen) instead decided to create a four-disc opus that essentially doubled their discography in one fell swoop. The four-hour, four-disc Kesto (234:48:4) (referring to the length of the entire set) is a sprawling sound cycle that draws on the concept of the triptych as utilised by Vainio’s favourite painter, Francis Bacon. If that sounds challenging, consider that discs one through three contain some of the most grinding, abrasive noise that Pan Sonic have ever put to tape. Using handmade analog tone generators that have more in common with old transistor radios than synthesisers, the duo layer jarring beats and tones in the way that Bacon presented imagery bit by bit until the whole came into focus. Pan Sonic kindly provide the closest English meaning for the Finnish titles of each track, and even a quick peruse offers an idea of what you’re dealing with here: disc one offers up "Mayhem,” "Mutator” and "Cavity” in the first three tracks alone. By the time disc two spins along, the harshness gives way to the somewhat calming force of nature, with tracks like "Toads,” "Groundfrost” and "Arctic.” As such, disc two offers up a more melodic template, with chimes and Moogs. The respite is yanked away near the end of the disc, though, as the duo tip their hat to their industrial forebears with "Throbbing” (as in Gristle). If anything, Kesto — which appropriately enough means "strength” or "duration” — proves that Pan Sonic are continuing the grand tradition of noise as art. Beautifully packaged with photography by award-winning Finnish artist Anne Hamalainen, Kesto is an epic work in all aspects that challenges the very notion of what music is or should be. (Mute)