Pan Sonic

Motorlab #3

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This isn't your everyday sound-clash. The third in the Motorlab series from Iceland's Kitchen Motors label pits fake imaginary/non-imaginary film soundtrack composer Barry Adamson against Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen of the Finnish minimal techno duo Pan Sonic. Kitchen Motors asked the artists to travel to Reykjavik and write a piece of music for a choir. Once written, Adamson, Vainio, Väisänen, and Halldór Víkingsson recorded the piece ("The Hymn of the 7th Illusion"), as performed by Hljómeyki and conducted by Hörður Bragason. A haunted, wordless succession of boyish escalating "ahhs" and "ohhs," Vainio and Väisänen took the spooked choir recording into the NTVO studio and added a repetitive, suspenseful, reverberant succession of electronic throbs that appear, evaporate, and return throughout the piece's 12 minutes. A number of slight atmospheric touches add to the cinematic feel, which Adamson no doubt played a role in. It's hushed and unresolved tension at its best, and it practically begs to be used in a film where paranoia is an overriding theme. Not quite as engrossing is the other track, "The Illusion of the 7th Hymn," which is a remix of the original done by experimentalists the Hafler Trio. Throughout the span of 24 minutes, the remix goes through several shifts of minimal drone and noise, cresting around the 12-minute mark with a passage that shapeshifts both the choir and the electronic thrums into a disturbed choppiness. As an interesting footnote, the gent pictured on the cover is electronic composer Magnús Blöndal Jóhannsson. As evident by the photo that shows pickups attached to his head, the mad scientists of Kitchen Motors scanned his brain as he listened to Adamson and Pan Sonic's collaboration. The resulting brain waves are displayed on one of the accompanying cards within the packaging.

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