Tom Ewing’s Top 100 Singles Of The 90s
When I was 14 I went to hospital and had two micro-thin metal filaments inserted into my thigh and shoulder, which were allowed to spool through my major blood vessels until they reached my heart. Electricity was then passed through them, jacking my heart into artificially inspired activity. The resultant sense of becoming android, of having one’s bodily processes infected and taken over by machines, returns keenly to me every time I put on Panasonic’s extraordinary records.
Touted as Panasonic’s engagement with Dutch speed-apocalypse-techno variant, gabba, Osasto is in fact just more of the usual, though the unceasing sine-tone interludes you sometimes find on the band’s albums are to be fair excluded in favour of particularly hammering, unvarying beat structures. But on the other hand because it’s relatively compact, Osasto concentrates the mind wonderfully on Panasonic’s virtues. Which are as follows: the band’s mastery of texture, and their mastery of structure. You could, I suppose, say much the same about any ‘intelligent dance’ auteur – Autechre, or Aphex, or even Orbital – but Panasonic stand out through their brutalist economy of means, the way they ruthlessly strip anything even remotely psychedelic or contemplative from their music in favour of relentless repetition and purism. (Not to mention the fact that you can dance to Panasonic even less than you can to the aforementioned.) Osasto unfolds with the impervious grace of an architectural blueprint. First it pummells you, then rewires your concentration, sense of time, and sense of internal rhythm in its own stark image. The record and the listening environment are fused, and gradually you become accustomed to every tiny shift and subtlety of pattern. The next record you pay will seem colourful to the point of crassness, but also curiously blurry and unreal.