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Mika Vainio

Ø is the solo identity of Mika Vainio of Finnish techno duo Panasonic, the latter of whose brand of quirky, lo-fi minimalism has transformed them into one of the most popular exports from the Northern European techno underground. Unlike Panasonic's harder, comparatively more dancefloor-oriented gear, however, Vainio's Ø work tends more toward the ambient and experimental, wedding sparse machine noises with shifting rhythms, stubbornly unmusical sonic textures, and assorted channel separation weirdness. Vainio's Ø releases stretch back to the early '90s (pre-dating his association with Panasonic by a few years); his earliest work appeared on the Corporate label before landing with Finnish techno institution Sahko in 1993, where he's released most of his material, including three albums and a handful of EPs. The increasing popularity of Panasonic has meant Vainio's giving less and less time to his Ø work, but he did manage to release some of his most accomplished solo material in 1996, on his third Sahko full-length Olento, which featured the most effective fusion of Panasonic's austere minimalism with less immediate, more challenging structures. Demand for Vainio as a remixer has also grown of late, with revisions of tracks by Björk and Tactile both appearing in mid-1996. He continued to record as Tekonivel (for Sahko sublabel Puu) and as Kentolevi for Patrick Pulsinger's Cheap label; titles issued under Vainio's own name include 1998's Onko, 1999's Ydin, and the following year's 20 to 2000. Wohltemperiert, the second collaboration between Ø and Noto, aka Carsten Nicolai, appeared two years later, followed in 2004 by Sokeiden Maassa Yksisilmäinen on Kuningas (In the Land of the Blind One-Eyed Is King) and in 2009 by Aineen Musta Puhelin (Black Telephone of Matter). ~ Sean Cooper, Rovi
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