Friday, 4 September 2009

Vladislav Delay – Tummaa [Leaf]

Sasu Ripatti the man behind Vladislav Delay and many other projects only came to my attention recently while listening to the fantastic Vertical Accent by the Moritz Von Oswald Trio, which has to be one of the most compelling albums to reach my ears this year. Well… he plays percussion on that album and to my delight I was contacted by Leaf telling me he does more than just that and in fact had a new album out entitled Tummaa, so I jumped at the chance to listen. Much like Vertical Accent this is an ambient infusion of electronics with a live jazz feel to it, but unlike said album this is less techno driven. Here he builds beautiful glitchy soundscapes out of acoustic sounds that are shaped into new electronically tinted compositions that sound so organic and alive.

Vladislav Delay isn’t alone on this album, the group that made Tummaa include Argentinean musician Lucio Capence on clarinet and sax, plus Scottish composer Craig Armstrong on piano and Rhodes. The tracks here are often very rhythmical, which makes sense considering Ripatti is a jazz percussionist and apparently recorded the drum parts first before the others joined him to complete the piece. Apparently Tummaa means dark or darkness, which does indeed suit the albums atmosphere and as he explains, “I worked on the album during ‘kaamos’ time of the year in Finland. Kaamos time really gets dark from December to February where you only have few hours of light per day. I really liked that and the whole winter enormously”.

The album opens with the moody and almost industrial at times ‘Melankolia’, which could well sound track an old film where a detective creeps around in the darkness looking for clues at a grizzly murder scene. Glitchy percussion and electronics flail around as a piano gets tweaked into view. You can really hear the jazz influences everything has a warm live feel of a band rather than a cold studio composition. There is a real dynamic range to this music the hushed sections sooth and the tracks really build into subtle crescendos that you sometimes don’t even realise are happening until your deep inside them.

The dubby melodic almost lounge lizard keys that open ‘Kuula (Kitos)’ that get stretched into reverb drenched shapes are truly mesmerising, but this track really kicks off in the mid section with other worldly synths that have this disturbing industrial vibe, yet underneath you get this beautiful light melody that keeps creeping in and out.

The liquid gloops of ‘Mustelmia’ made up of bouncy percussion and down right dirty low sax blows is a joy to listen to. You hear instruments sometimes and you wonder how the hell they got them to sound like they do, Tummaa is full of those moments everything sounds so familiar yet all at once so alien.

The almost mechanical pulse of ‘Toive’ has a nice dubby crunch to it under all the mellow droning melodies, this one is a slow burner that just builds subtly and gets under your skin. The bass really stands out on this one too, a groove starts to form its like a fucked up dancehall track by the end. The dub elements of Vladislav Delay’s music work so well with the organic jazz instrumentation and found sound electronica. The percussion is almost coincidental at times, like he’s recreating everyday movements and activity rather than full on rhythms.

Tummaa is a wonderful, subtle piece of work. The dark nocturnal atmospheres make for an engaging listen. If you’re a fan of jazz, electronica and maybe even dub and techno of an ambient nature then there is plenty here to keep you coming back for more. Vladislav Delay has created something really interesting here, which is both dark and almost jarring at times. Some of the soundscapes really do creep on you and almost make you feel like your in some kind of beautiful yet twisted film.

Download: Vladislav Delay – Melankolia (Edit)

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