Pan Sonic
Set (2008)
Director: Edward Quist
Year: 2008
Time: 3 X 38 mins
Music: Pan Sonic

Eye of Sound: Still known as Panasonic among old friends, Vainio and Väisänen are known to produce some of the most intensely cold music since the glorious days of NDW. Their blend of glacial pulse-beat aggression (inherited from their early weirdo-techno experiences), white-noise static and hi-fi aural spatialisation (closer to "avant-garde" concerns) has given the Finnish duo some notoriety both in the experimental music circuit and among the ultimately conservative electronica crowd, creating a rather heterodox support basis for the band. Inspired in the imagery of the cathode (something which seems to be acquiring some currency in the past years), american artist Edward Quist offers a "multi-angle" reading of Panasonic's music by drawing on a 1999 live performance in New York (these "angles" being here divided in separate files). The screen space is mercilessly invaded by violent graphics designed to translate, or respond to, Panasonic's static washes and often brutal pulses, its unembellished black and white compositions aptly reflecting the band's bleak soundworld. Its strobing punctuations, though obviously inspired by the obsolete tradition of techno videography, can be physically deranging and mentally exhausting, miles away from the flat landscapes offered by those standardised forms of mindless pseudo-psychedelism that are still served as a visual accompaniment to beat-oriented music. In fact, Quist's sinister waveform designs are systematically distorted and pushed to their own figurative limits, aiming, much like the duo's aural excitement, to implode rather than to contain source materials and to afflict rather than soothe the viewer. Strangely enough, the duo's excursions into the radiances of the body electric are often labeled as "minimalist" or other adjectives that seem designed to spare readers and writers further thought instead of trying to expand our understanding of Panasonic's vision. Indeed, despite their typically self-restrained management of their materials and far from rich chromatic palette, Panasonic's audio design is one of excess, hyperbole and exaggeration of microscopic events, rendering the "minimalist" description absolutely absurd. Perhaps guilty of an excessively literal and predictable rendering of Panasonic's analog soundscapes, Quist's Kuvaputki videos can nevertheless, in their fruitful tension between stasis and implosion, boast of faithfully documenting both the duo's aural vision and their live performances by the end of the century, making this a rather unique "tour doc".