Wednesday, November 10, 2004

Pan sonic receives Finnish State Prize for Arts

From Finnish Music Information Centre:

The Arts Council of Finland has announced the annual State Prizes for Arts on November 9. The recipients are film director Klaus Härö, choreographer Marjo Kuusela, and electronic music duo Pan sonic. Each prize is worth 13.000 euros.

Formed by Mika Vainio and Ilpo Väisänen in 1993, Pan sonic has made a durable reputation within the sphere of experimental electronic music, leading the way of the "Northern sound" of international renown.

Pan sonic are among the outpourings of the lively Turku electronic music scene that combined the best aspects of techno, performance and minimalism in the 1990s. Around the same time, Sähkö Recordings was founded, and Pan sonic soon became its most successful artist being equally home at the music festivals as well as art museums and installations.

Since 1995, the British label Mute/Blast First has issued Pan sonic albums Vakio" (1995), Kulma (1997), A (1999) ja Aaltopiiri (2001). This year the ambitious duo released a 4-CD work Kesto, of which title means, literally, length. Their recent live performances include concerts in Berlin Biennale, Tampere Biennale, and Biennale Musica in Venice.


And my comments:

Well, this is great that Pan sonic finally get the recognition they deserve in their own home country, but one could ask if this was really so if they hadn't manage to make it internationally. I don't think so.

Finnish people usually are really wary of anything that breaks new ground; without their international recognition Pan sonic (or Jimi Tenor or Vladislav Delay or...) would be still considered some sort of marginal freaks here, probably even laughed at. The Finnish way: jealousy and bitterness -- people who create something different and out of the ordinary crushed either by indifference, silence or direct hostility. Finnish media and music industry usually want stylish and easily consumed copies of currently-fashionable Anglo-American pop products for an artist to get any major media coverage here. The lowest common denominator thinking prevails.

You either have to get yourself international recognition before anyone takes any note here, or then drink yourself to death or commit suicide and become celebrated only posthumously; maybe even decades after your death. Local examples are various; probably someone like Erkki Kurenniemi being finally "discovered" after 40 years he created his major work is a refreshing exception too. But then, grass always being greener behind the fence, I don't think this is exclusively a Finnish phenomenon...


And here is an interesting sidenote I found, an excerpt from Avanto Festival's info magazine; concerning their forthcoming gig of Germany's Alec Empire...

"In Finland, Alec Empire remains rather unknown, even after much hype from the British media, which is usually devoutly followed by Finnish scenesters. This may encourage some discouraging generalisations about the state of our cultural climate. Or can we imagine Bomfunk MC's become radicalized, should the skinhead MP Tony Halme's demagoguery lead to action? Now seemingly on the wane, the Finnish
electronic music scene was dominated throughout the 90's by mindless hedonism and cursorily post-modernist pseudo-philosophies, with the approval of the media and even some art museums. These sorts of connotations may even have caused the alternative activists' scene to shun experimental electronic music, as well."

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