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NPR Arts & Life

Mika Vainio, Founder Of Pan Sonic And Electronic Auteur, Dies At 53

Pan Sonic (Mika Vainio, left and Ilpo Vaisanen) performing in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on May 12, 2000. Vainio died aged 51 on April 13, 2017.
Pan Sonic (Mika Vainio, left and Ilpo Vaisanen) performing in Greenpoint, Brooklyn on May 12, 2000. Vainio died aged 51 on April 13, 2017.

Mika Vainio, a pioneer in the world of avant-garde electronic music and founding member of Finnish duo Pan Sonic, has died at 53. His death was confirmed by friends and family to numerous outlets. No cause of death was given.

The Finnish artist began his recording career in 1993, with the release of Kvantti ("Quantum" in English) under the pseudonym Ø, for the label Sähkö ("electric"), which he co-founded the same year. A year later, Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen released their first work as Panasonic, later known as Pan Sonic. The group's run of critically-acclaimed albums explored the extreme ends of the sonic spectrum, valuing noise and silence as much as rhythm and grooves.

Vainio remained an avant-garde touchstone until present day, releasing dozens of records on labels like Touch Music, Raster-Noton and Editions Mego, as well as his own Sähkö Recordings. His last official album, a soundtrack for the Finnish film Mannerlaatta,was released in late 2016.

Vainio was a haptic creator, too, even as the digital age proceeded and took over many artists' creative routines. " I have never used computers to make music," he told The Quietus in 2013. "I have no problem resisting that, I'm quite happy of the way I'm working."

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