Vladislav Delay, Tummaa


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When we last left Sasu Ripatti he was serving as the all-important drummer in Moritz von Oswald’s trio of electronic-jazz explorers. Before that he was serving up another slice of experimental-techno-poetry-pop with partner AGF in the form of their second album, Symptoms. And in late 2008 we received Luomo’s Convivial, his fifth album which was noteworthy for its numerous collaborators and vocalists. See a trend? The man I’ve always pictured a loner, producing during cold, lonely winter nights, has proven to be quite the collaborator. Luckily for us, this has proven to be a welcome development. Not only is his name popping up more often than ever, but Mr. Ripatti’s projects have evolved and new ones have been born, and old standby Vladislav Delay, his main and perhaps most critically acclaimed identity, has not been spared. In a first, the new Vladislav Delay album is partially the work of a trio: Ripatti, Lucio Caprece on clarinet and saxophone, and Craig Anderson on the Rhodes. The final product, however, is all the doing of Ripatti, who manipulated and rearranged recordings of Caprece and Armstrong as the basis for Tummaa.

Anyone worried that bringing other musicians into the fold and utilizing acoustic sources has changed Vladislav’s music needn’t be afraid; this is very much the work of the man behind classics such as Anima and Multila. Delay’s fractured and distinctive sense of rhythm can be found all over the record, arousing the same temporal confusion that can sometimes result from spending a little too much time with him. Rather than take a sharp left turn, however, Vladislav has evolved. Tummaa has a crispness not previously found in his work, largely thanks to the textures of the piano and woodwind instruments. Melody plays a much larger part than in previous outings, with tracks like “Melankolia” and “Musta Planeetta” exploring the contours of melodic motifs without overtly dwelling on them. Always one for otherworldly sounds, somehow Ripatti manages to make the most terrestrial of these sound the most alien. In an early album-defining moment, Caprece’s clarinet materializes from the densely-crafted void in “Kuula (Kiitos),” making the windswept mountaintops of the first few minutes seem relatively down to earth. Elsewhere on “Mustelmia” and “Toive,” 4/4 rhythms plod along, forcing you bob your head in a way you never thought possible, resetting your rhythmic notions after they’ve been thoroughly discombobulated.

As an avowed Vladislav Delay fan, Tummaa is a more than welcome addition to the extensive Sasu Ripatti canon. Each album has the uncanny ability to retain Vladislav’s identity yet flip the script on his previous works; but more importantly, each album brings to mind elaborate visuals and has its own distinct personality. Vladislav invites you into his world for an hour and a connection is forged in ways few artists are able to pull off. Tummaa is both his softest and roughest album yet, but what that means and the ideas he means to convey are for you to figure out. It may take a couple listens, but your time with Vladislav Delay is always well spent.

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