Review Summary: Because you move
Finnish electro wunderkind Sasu Ripatti made his name as Luomo over a decade ago, mastering the art of crafting subtly restrained yet achingly sensual tracks of extraordinary length and staying power. The immortal Tessio
in particular illustrated his ability to fashion epic tracks that seemingly went nowhere and everywhere at the same time, gloriously uncompromising in both scope and vision. Following his stint as micro-house producer extraordinaire, Ripatti turned his hand to creating wondrously bizarre and genre defying music with experimental techno god Moritz Von Oswald, as well as releasing nine solo albums as Vladislav Delay.
Which brings us to his tenth, and perhaps finest release to date. Despite the radical shift in content and form, it soon becomes apparent that Vantaa retains some of the conceptual blueprint that made Vocalcity one of the great dance albums of the decade; Ripatti’s trademark deftness of touch and ear for sensuality ensure that the indubitably lengthy songs never outstay their welcome, constantly revealing novel and exhilarating sounds with each listen.
Yet in contrast to its predecessors, this originality doesn’t make Vantaa an easy listen. Dichotomous yet oddly harmonious melodies merge and vibrate in the dark; humming synths wrap like bark around the crackling beat skeleton as slivers of noise slither and crawl over the body of the music, resembling nothing if not miniscule insects of sound. The impenetrable concrete jungles of Henki
oscillate with threatening power before unexpectedly unravelling in majestic deconstructions that would make Derrida stop and stare in wonder. With effortless skill, Ripatti puts you on a road where you know the ends, but the means remain totally indecipherable. Whilst most techno follows a straight and steady four to the floor highway, these songs wind and curve like sea serpents undulating through the dark currents of sound. Groping blindly at the impenetrable wisps of fog, drumbeats stagger drunkenly in a myriad of odd time signatures, whilst disconcerting and alien melodies whisper, sparkle and throb underneath. Multiple listens are needed to discern the sonic details in all their muted splendour; the lovingly programmed percussion, utterly inebriated yet carefully calculated at the same time, is astounding before one even turns an ear to the intricate melodies swirling overheard. Even jarring oddball epic Lauma
, with its pounding beat reminiscent of Basic Channel’s most powerful work, is irresistibly hypnotic in its effortlessly enthralling progressions.
Raster Noton releases have always had the bizarre tendency to be both utterly unfathomable and agonizingly fascinating at the same time, and their latest offering is no different. Comforting yet totally alien, enigmatic yet gently endearing, Vantaa is perhaps the
album of the shadowy electronic leftfield this year.
So delay those end of year lists, Vlad; this endlessly spellbinding work of art may just end up stealing your intellect as well as your gently fluttering heart.