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Vladislav Delay Tummaa Review

Album. Released 2009.  

BBC Review

Music that’s impossible to dance to, but tremendously immersive.

Colin Buttimer 2009

Tummaa marks ten years of Vladislav Delay, aka Finnish electronic musician Sasu Ripatti. Although he’s recorded under other pseudonyms, including the vocal house project Luomo, Ripatti’s eight Vladislav Delay albums feature his most original music. Tummaa continues to explore oceanic dub-scapes but with a significant new twist: it’s an acoustic album with Ripatti playing drums, Lucio Capece on clarinet and sax and Craig Armstrong on piano.

Armstrong’s orchestrations for the likes of Madonna and Massive Attack might make his the highest profile of the trio, but it’s Ripatti’s percussion that underpins and directs the music throughout. Although the leader’s early background as a jazz drummer is often noted, his arrhythmic playing is more akin to that of free improvisers such as Han Bennink or Tony Oxley than the likes of Max Roach. The result is a radical music that’s impossible to dance to, but tremendously immersive if surrendered to.

Most of Tummaa continues this approach. Rhythms stop and start in a matter of moments as crashes and echoing whooshes reverberate in cavernous sonic spaces. Two tracks, however, feature heavy-footed rhythms that sound as though the music has dragged itself onto dry land and is suffering from the effects of gravity. Mustelmia features a swing that would make Tom Waits blush, such is its swamp-like disposition. Elsewhere, Toive could initially be mistaken for an early electronic work by Karlheinz Stockhausen, but after a few minutes resolves itself into a leaden stomp.

Capece’s contributions are subsumed into Delay’s sonic miasma and are consequently difficult to discern. On the other hand Craig Armstrong’s keyboards, particularly the Fender Rhodes, are both atmospheric and often obliquely melodic. Considered alongside Ripatti’s drumming for the Moritz Von Oswald Trio, Tummaa represents a significant change in approach. It’ll be very interesting to hear where Vladislav Delay develops from here.

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