Originally released under the pseudonym Ø, Mika Vainio’s 1996 LP Olento was one of the Finnish artist’s first releases outside of his work in Pan Sonic. The follow-up to 1994’s Metri, Olento is a more unusual record by comparison. While Metri often wedded its quixotic experiments to a four-to-the-floor drum machine beat, there is little on Olento that could be called dancefloor-ready.
Unshackled from the constraints of rhythm, Vainio uses this newfound freedom to create a set of electronic tracks that hover on the edges of ambient, musique concrete, illbient and post-minimalist composition. Ghosts of his previous beat experiments remain - ‘Kaskaat’ and ‘Mugwumb’ display lopsided drumbeats while the chords of ‘Ilta’ reference what Basic Channel were doing around the same time. However, these tunes are certainly more focussed on texture and feel rather than groove, and the rhythms here appear to have been primarily included as a basis from which Vainio can experiment.
The rest of Olento is dominated by frosty electronics, lonely modular malfunctions and toneless drones. ‘Stratostaati’ and ‘Tila’ each feature synths which start out as atonal blurts before slowly coalescing into chords; ‘Kunnes’ is an erratic electronic loop in the Throbbing Gristle mould; ‘Oleva and ‘Mennyt’ open and close Olento with a music-box twinkle.
Reissued for the first time in years - and on vinyl for the first time ever - Mika Vainio’s 1996 LP Olento is a fascinating insight into the late Finnish composer’s unique way with electronics.