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Pan Sonic & Keiji Haino - Shall I Download a Blackhole and Offer it to You

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Artist: Pan Sonic & Keiji Haino

Album: Shall I Download a Blackhole and Offer it to You

Label: Blast First Petite

Review date: Jan. 15, 2010

For anyone game enough to embrace an hour and seventeen minutes of cataclysmic psychedelia, Shall I Download A Black Hole and Offer It To You should be a welcome challenge. Especially considering the weighty reputations that both Finnish electronic duo Pan Sonic and legendary Japanese psych-rocker Keiji Haino carry, a collaboration of this merit is something of a wet dream for noise aficionados. Culled from a live performance at Berlin’s Volksbühne in November 2007, the recorded result is as epic as one would expect from the two entities’ impressive resumes, pitting Haino’s virulent evocations against Pan Sonic’s digital interference.

Aside from the names on the spine though, what immediately drew me to this record was its title. Shall I Download A Black Hole and Offer It To You accurately hyperbolizes the basic process at work here, conveying the astronomical improv collectively channeled by Haino and Pan Sonic. Moving through ecstatic cacophony to shamanistic whispers, the sheer size and scale of the performance is staggering. It’s the kind of thing that requires a step back to observe, mouth agape.

Captured by audiophile BJ Nilsen, the Swede’s recording technique is appropriate to the eeriness of the concert itself, providing a palatial texture to the trio’s sound. The piece begins with Haino’s ghostly wail, which he soon obliterates through a screeching guitar assault. Such a battle between beauty and cacophony characterizes the performance most significantly; the three musicians’ maximal onslaughts are equally tempered by ethereal passages.

From what I can gather, it seems as though all of Haino’s various instruments are routed through Pan Sonic’s soundboard, which they deftly manipulate, loop, and distort. The duo definitely contributes a heavy dose of their own industrial tectonics, but it’s clear that Haino is the one holding the reigns. At times, it seems as though he’s even working to deliberately disrupt any sense of rhythm or drone that Pan Sonic attempts to construct, piercing their electronics with his hallucinatory shredding. The approach may sound like the makings for a train wreck, but the disruptions soon blend into twisted harmonies.

Though the intensity and duration of the disc inhibits its repeat-listening appeal, there can be no denying how impressive the performance is as a whole. Sure, this would’ve been an unparalleled live experience, but the audio document holds up quite well on its own. My recommendation for the willing listener: set aside an evening to kick back, light a candle, and let the gravity of Haino and Pan Sonic’s behemoth consume you.

By Cole Goins

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