VLADISLAV DELAY: Tummaa (The Leaf Label)


Posted on Aug 13th 2009 01:08 am

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Vladislav Delay: Tummaa

The Leaf Label 2009
07 Tracks. 66mins03secs

Icon: arrow CD: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Boomkat LP: Amazon UK | Boomkat

In over ten years, Finnish dub master Sasu Ripatti has, under the Vladislav Delay banner, created one of the most consistent body of work on the electronic scene, releasing music on labels such as Mille Plateaux, Chain Reaction, Staubgold or his own, Huume. In recent years, Ripatti’s increasing involvement with other projects has slowed down the flow of releases of his flagship project, the last Delay album, Whistleblower, dating back to 2007. Having joined the ranks of The Leaf Label, Ripatti is back with his most ambitious record to date.

With Tummaa, Ripatti has taken a rather different path, ditching the electronic overcoat of previous work and replacing it with acoustic instruments and has, for the first time, brought on board two additional musicians to bring his haunting soundscapes and beats to life. Originally a drummer and percussionist, who has over the years moved to electronic instruments and computers, Ripatti returns here to his first love, playing drums and percussions, while British composer and musician Craig Armstrong, who shot to fame in the early nineties for his involvement with Massive Attack and who has since worked on countless soundtracks, takes here piano and Rhodes duty, and Argentinean clarinet and saxophone player Lucio Capece adds fluid atmospheric textures.

Vladislav Delay’s records have always established a very fine line between dub and deeply atmospheric music forms, and these are still very much the combined forces that propel this record, yet, due to the overly acoustic nature of the record and the use of shorter reverbs and effects, the music appears at first much dryer than on Ripatti’s previous outputs. This is however counteracted by the compositions feeling much more organic and visceral, as Ripatti, Armstrong and Capece take it in turn to lead the way and occasionally appear to react on each other’s respective contributions.

On album opener Melankolia, Ripatti rapidly establishes an extremely sparse percussive set in the background while Capece weaves sepulchral sounds around it and Armstrong throws seemingly disjointed notes for a moment before eventually joining the dots to form a haunting revolving melody on the surface. The piano is also key on Kuula (Kiitos) which follows, but there is here an element of dialogue between Armstrong and Capece, as they appear to answer each other’s call, Capece’s textural elements delicately punctuated by touches of piano, that gives this track a more animated and angular character. In the second half, the percussions become much more prominent and lively, bringing an element of threat to the piece, which is further developed on Mustelmia, with its increasingly dense drum patterns and heavy treatment, pushing the rest in the background. Occasionally, strips of clarinet or drops of piano can be heard piercing through.

At its most ethereal and atmospheric, Tummaa reveals much of its components as they ebb and flow through dreamy sequences. This is very much the case throughout Musta Planeetta, which appears as locked in a loop, neither the piano nor clarinet never able to get through a complete melodic cycle. With the last three pieces all clocking over the ten minute mark and appearing sturdier and more imperative than the moody tones heard earlier, Tummaa reaches here yet another level. The opening sequence of Toive is much more progressive and evocative, especially as Capece creates voluptuous shapes above the solitary drone in the background, and as a monotone drum beat raises, the eruptions of sax injects the clearest jazz touches of the record. While the title track is once again predominantly ambient, the contours of the piece are more defined, the tone warmer and the soundscapes much more layered and intense, Tunnelivisio, which concludes, pushes towards more open grounds by progressively building on the trio’s respective contributions to create a strong inner current which runs right through the middle section of the track before retracting entirely, leaving almost nothing of its passage over the last few minutes of piece.

After years of working alone and with for sole tools his computer and electronics, Tummaa is a vast departure for Vladislav Delay, yet this is a very smooth transition as the themes that have fuelled his previous records are still very much at the core of this new work. The music and soundscapes benefit greatly of the contributions made by Craig Armstrong and Lucio Capece, providing Sasu Ripatti’s sound with rich and vibrant textures and brushes, and giving the whole album a profound organic feel. While this new direction is likely to surprise and disconcert some of his long-term fans, Tummaa may well turn out to be Vladislav Delay’s masterpiece.


Icon: arrow Vladislav Delay | The Leaf Label
Icon: arrow CD: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Boomkat LP: Amazon UK | Boomkat

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Comments (7)

7 Responses to “VLADISLAV DELAY: Tummaa (The Leaf Label)”

  1. Ashon 13 Aug 2009 at 8:45 am

    Now, I was going to review this and then I listened to it first. I guess it’s very much for people in a ‘drifty’ mood which I rarely am. Even then I reach for a bit of Murcof, which is more energetic than this.

  2. themilkmanon 21 Aug 2009 at 12:42 am

    You should really give this album a go and give it time to grow, it is pretty extraordinary. Get in the drifty mood for a bit, you won’t regret it

  3. Thomason 25 Aug 2009 at 5:57 pm

    I am a big fan of Vladislav, but this album disappointed me at first. Just listen to it some times, and as the milkman said, give it time to grow and you will discover the magic of it. It is a really really great album.

  4. themilkmanon 26 Aug 2009 at 1:06 am

    It definitely deserves to persist a bit with it as it is quite different from his previous work, at least to start with. I’ve played it many times, and it took me a while to get into it.

  5. […] swapping the heavily diffuse electronics of previous records for a more stripped down sound. On Tummaa, Ripatti was found on drums and percussions, while additional contributors Lucio Capece and Craig […]

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