Some of it works, some of it does not. I still think it was worth persevering with, even if the outcome is less than I’d hoped for. I still like the contrast of the cinematic opening and the cheesy pop tune.
No idea is original, we stand on the shoulder of giants and we steal and plunder from those before us.
This was going to be longer, but I’m out of time – I gotta rush.
I found the samples from the original Tessio, you know the one with the huge intro? Rather than just point you to where they came from I thought I would piss everyone off my loading them up in the MPC and making a house mashup like it’s still 1999. Then I discovered that I really liked it, so I’m going to do something else with it. It’s like a fever dream of the original.
It’s rough as a badger’s arse at the moment, but I thought it would be cool to hear what I was working with. I’ll have a much more polished version soon, but not till after Xmas.
Have a listen to the demo/proof of concept.
What the fuck is this thing? Who are The Presets? Never having heard the original version of “Promises”, nor will I be making the effort to do so, I’m not going to say much about this remix.
I’m putting it up here for completeness really and as an oddity of a recording the I would never have recognised as a Luomo effort. If I had to make a guess, and far be it from me to put words in the man’s mouth, I would guess that VD didn’t much care for the source material given that the vocals are easily 6dB lower than they could be, and everything is deconstructed and layered in a way that exposes rather than beautifies. But, again, all conjecture on my behalf.
It’s been a long time since I posted something to this blog. You can attribute that to my growing disinterest in being “on” the computer, the amount of travel that’s plagued my lifestyle the past year, or the fact that my extraordinarily expensive sound card fucked up for two and a half months. So needless to say as my favourite hobby was put on the back burner, this blog suffered the fallout – no new music, no new whiny half-baked reviews.
Then VD dropped a new record (Ripatti “Ripatti01“) so I sorted my shit out, quick snap.
Why? Well here’s the deal, the dealio, the Nancy Dell’Olio (I fucking invented that – just like that too, no fucking planning, no ghost writers nor fuck all). Wait, hold on, side tracked. Breathe… So I’m going to continue to talk about some stupid fuckin’ records here that no cunt has heard of before, and continue to drive people away from my already on the fringes blog. And I’m going to be using tonnes of commas, because I love them – they’re like little fullstops that you can put fucking anywhere you like.
Anyway, right, I’m cool, I’m cool. No, I’m cool. Ignore that previous paragraph.
It’s been thirteen years since there was a new VD pseudonym – not counting the collaboration, I think Uusitalo is the newest. So it was with heavy anticipation I awaited his latest incarnation. To be entirely transparent, I need to preface this review with the admission that I find interest in everything produced by Mr. Delay. Even the unlistenable early Sistol album (who listens to music anyway? How horribly passé) or the confused and messy “Love Glove” CD. I’m also more interested in what’s been invested in the making of the music than the final outcome – the reflection of the musician in the music is much more interesting than all other aspects to me. It’s what elevates music to art, and what differentiates good from bad – even in seemingly superficial electronic music.
Ripatti is both a new label and new “character” in the VD repertoire. The label is distributed exclusively through the Boomkat.com web shop and will be putting out limited runs (around 500 pre release, I think). It’s supposedly a snapshot of what is being produced in the studio, and will more than likely house pieces that are not viable as parts of albums or other projects.
Ripatti the artist is a bit more interesting to me. It’s the first occasion in which Vladislav Delay is using (almost) his real name. Or at least I think it’s his real name – at this point it’s quite difficult to tell. Maybe he’s grown to be more comfortable in his own skin, maybe he’s gained the confidence in his productions he no longer needs an alias, or maybe he just made some music and slapped his name on it. We’ll never know, but I’m guessing VD doesn’t do things without thoroughly considering the implication. What I can tell you is that this single production released under the Ripatti moniker bears little to no resemblance to any of his previous incarnations, and I have the feeling that it’s the record he’s been desperate to release for some time.
Ripatti “Ripatti01” contains two tracks, “#39” and “#24” – seemingly from the Mark Fell school of naming.
The a-side is a stop/start, medium tempo tech house thing. It’s choppy, glistening and really is the sort of thing I love. I think it’s aimed at replicating 2-step garage with a contemporary twist, but really it works better as a modern take on late 90’s dutch house music. It’s a fun track, and possibly the most accessible piece of music I’ve heard Delay produce, but it never crosses the line into frivolous or juvenile. He knows how to show a great deal of restraint, even when wringing the neck of his new studio.
Finely chopped samples are draped over deep analogue toms and kicks. It’s a very rhythmic record, very controlled. Gone is a lot of the syncopation and dubby depths associated with his most popular productions, and it’s all been replaced with tireless shifting of samples and insane patterns. Only once does the twelve minute track break down to expose it’s Vladislav Delay centered core – long attack, reverb laden minor chord progressions. It’s Delay, but pressed through a mesh screen of contemporary genre traditions. Very cool stuff.
The b-side is very different. It’s a frenzy of fast snappy drums, shuffling rhythms, 80s finger snaps and single note basslines. Its been called drum and bass by a few critics, but that doesn’t sit well with me. Its more chaotic than that (plus if its not an Amen Brother sample, its not drum and bass). This is a record that doesn’t fit with the canon of the rest of his material, gone is the control and self control – but that’s no bad thing.
It’s all glued together with a mulchy, mangled, unintelligible backdrop of noise. Sampled and twisted. I think V has been listening to Underworld’s “Second Toughest In The Infants” – and if he hasn’t, he really should.
It’s a lovely unexpected surprise, and one that makes me very interested in what’s to come next.
You can buy the record right now (if its not sold out) from Boomkat.com, and if you’ve got access to a reasonable turntable, you definitely should check it out. And for god’s sake, don’t leak it on the internet and ruin everyone’s fun.
And I know this aspect doesn’t matter to a lot of people but… The pressing and the mastering of the record are both excellent. Clean and deep, with lots of range and clarity. I watched a lot of interviews and public talks with the mastering engineer Matt Colton – and he said a lot of stuff I profoundly disagree with. Lots of examples of boring music and lots of talk about high resolution being smoother and clearer. Snake oil in my opinion, however I have to admit his work seems spot on. It’s difficult to master modern dance music, but this is an excellent example of how it should be done. Well done Matt!
Now about this weird HDD toy you’ve bought, what are your plans with that Mr. Delay?
A while ago I made a half-hearted plea to Raster-Norton / Vladislav Delay, talking some rubbish about bonus material and the current state of things. Who’d ever thought it would get answered?
Mr. Delay took time out his busy schedule to answer my inane questions, and I can’t begin express my appreciation of him doing so.
What’s the concept behind “Kuopio”? What differentiates it between other VD albums?
I guess the main thing is that I have decided to actually focus on V.D. project. It was always closest to my heart but also I kind of gave that project least love and care, taking time to do other stuff like Luomo and other projects which would always be more difficult and challenging in some ways.
I decided to stop doing those projects and focus on V.D. as well as some other new projects and concepts. But mainly I wanted to see where I could, or would like to, go with Delay sound.
Kuopio is somewhat continuing what I started with Vantaa and working with Raster-Noton.
I had a vision about the somewhat new sound and while it didn’t really come out clear on Vantaa, I think on Espoo and Kuopio it’s more audible already.
I’ve been getting quite bored of ambient music, as far as writing and producing that kind of stuff goes. And I definitely have been bored of rhythms and beats, so I’ve been trying to look for things that won’t bore me. And overall I can say what I can say about each and every work I do, even though it might not be audible, that I’m trying to do something I haven’t done yet and look for new things in music.
What record are you most proud of making? What do you consider your greatest success as a musician?
I’d honestly have to say I’ll be always most proud of the next album or song or whatever I will make. I aim for progression, look forward to the things I haven’t yet done, or haven’t yet managed to do well, and on and on.
Of the records I’ve done I’d pick the last one, Kuopio.
Will Johanna Iivanainen or Raz Ohara ever appear on a Luomo record again?
Nope. I really don’t think I will ever make another Luomo album unless things change in major way. I find the club & dance music scene so out of it that I don’t want to work in or around it any more.
I would still like to produce such music as I have done with Luomo but I’d only do it privately or something, I have absolutely no interest in working in that scene any more as it currently is.
I don’t want to offend anyone so I’d better shut up now.
After 15 years in the music business, what are the most important lessons you’ve learned?
You know, I never thought myself as being in the music business. That was one thing that always bothered me, work, professional, business.
I work for hourly wage that is definitely lower than average. And I do work very long hours, just to get by, but I never wanted to be professional, maybe naively but anyhow I was worried I would lose my passion and all the other stuff that matters to me greatly, much more than money or any kind of success. So I guess not taking my passion as a professional thing or work at least, has helped a lot.
I guess the biggest lesson is not to be addicted; it kills creativity and life in general. Also it helps greatly to try stay as amateur and unknowing as possible.
What are your thoughts on the end of music as a physical product?
I have tried to follow the situation and progression of this topic and have tried to not take it personally. I think overall there’s nothing we can, or should try to do, against the progression of things. I feel in general the older you get the more challenging it becomes to let these things happen and not protest against them. Younger kids just take these things for granted and jump from one thing to another, the speed is quite overwhelming.
But lately, I must say I haven’t really even made any opinion of it all. Except I try to remain somehow positive as I tend to see and concentrate on negative things always. And when you look with those negative glasses the situation definitely seems pretty fucked up.
I find it sometimes hard to not be bitter about the situation but I can also see having been spoiled in my early career where I actually could sell few albums and make a semi living out of it.
As I first and foremost focus on music, the making of it, I don’t have so much energy and interest to focus on what kind of medium it appears on and everything around the subject. It does bother me that the whole digital thing neglects so many aspects of the experience, and actually just shits on it. You have no idea who made what, where, with whom, what’s the publisher and who’s the money making dude behind it all, 10 photos of someone posing in the make-ups, etc. etc.
When I listen to music I like, from jazz to classical to mainstream hip-hop etc., there are varying infos I want to know depending on the genre etc. and I can’t find this info on digital releases.
And also they sound crap. although so much of the new music sounds equally if not more crap on CD that I think it’s not so big deal actually. and everyone listens to the music on some ridiculous headphones (I think these latest-fashion 50 Cent or whatever Dre 300 dollar cans are as ridiculous as iPhone buds) that make music sound nothing like it should.
But this is again me not maybe seeing the bright side of it all.
But somehow I remain optimistic, things can’t only go to bad direction and I begin to see also some light at the end of the tunnel, maybe just because things can’t just go anymore bad.
Usually I always say it could be worse. But maybe in this aspect it’s different, maybe it just can’t get more worse.
Maybe the thing I find most sad is the fact that almost nobody appreciates music anymore. It’s just a cheap or often free commodity. I guess one reason why less physical products are made/sold is because the ever-lowering value and appreciation people see in music. There’s so much of it, it’s like millions of free tv-shop channels, all tooting the same stuff out of their “unique” channels. I think it numbs the perception.
Also, too much is too much.
What advice could you give aspiring musicians?
Be fucking hard on yourself, no compromises.
What albums inspired you to become a musician?
In chronological order until age of about 15:
Bob Marley – Catch a Fire (I was 5 when I found that album on my father’s collection)
Kiss, Motley Crue, etc. hard rock albums
Frank Zappa – all albums.
Miles Davis – almost all albums.
You take music very seriously, have you ever considered making something light hearted or silly?
Nope 🙂 I admire the way Zappa did that, and maybe few other examples but mainly I hate it when people mix music with humour.
What are your plans for your new studio?
There are no new plans for the studio except to stop spending money! And start paying back the loans… I think the studio is at a point where the main thing is on top level, it sounds amazing.
I might be working with Genelec to find a bigger system at one point but for now the studio is all well. I also have trouble with how much time I spend in the studio, NOT making music but trying to make it more amazing and more suitable for new ideas I have and all that.
And then I’m off touring for weeks while my wife is using it…
Has it changed how you approach your music?
Not at all. All the gear etc. is very secondary I think. Music is something bigger than some this or that technology.
Pusha-T or Kanye?
Pusha… I’ve been a big Clipse fan since day one. With Kanye I have daily issues, even though I like some of his things a lot as well. I liked his last album a lot but I worry to death what will come out of his opus with electronic kids and EDM bling bling.
If money was no object, what kind of car would you drive?
Since having moved to country side I actually first time need a car and became aware of car in general. I didn’t have driving license until then even and never cared about cars.
But now I do as it’s my daily life, and often the circumstanced are pretty wild where I live, 4*4 drive is essential, so I need a car that functions and delivers. I guess I’d choose a Range Rover.
…sorry. I want to change my choice of car. Mercedes Benz G 500 AMG.
The thought of Vladislav Delay driving around in a G-Wagen, bumping the Clipse is fantastic 🙂 I’ll dissect the rest of the interview some other time, needless to say it mirrors quite a few of my thoughts and I’m somewhat torn on the uncertainty of Luomo’s future…
Buy Vladislav Delay’s new album “Kuopio” here. Do it, do it now. He’s a cool guy. Buying his music makes you a little cooler too.
I’m tired of being played every time I buy an album. I pre-order or reserve just about any album I want to hear so that I can get it on release day. This used to be cool, my album would arrive on or before its official release and the publisher would have me pay full price for the album. No arguments here. Recently, however, in the past few years I’ve been getting fucked, again and again. You see, everyone is doing these split releases – buy the album here, get these tracks / buy and album there get those tracks. It never fails.
What finally broke my cool was the new Luomo album, Plus. You see, I paid a tenner for it on release and was happy with my new, shiny, physical disc. However, one week after I bought it, they releases a Poland only disc with the ‘bonus’ track ‘Spy’. So, including delivery, that was another £15. That’s me up to £25 for one album. Twenty-five hard-worked-for pounds.
But wait for it, then there is another iTunes only version, with three bonus tracks, and all the instrumentals. That’s another £8, alongside the embarrassment and indignity of having to install iTunes.
I have paid what amounts to £33 for one album now. So here is a copy of it, for everyone – all the bonus tracks, and all the instrumentals. I’ve also included the bonus tracks from:
The Present Lover
Present Lover (Remix – Bonus Version),
Diamond Skull (Bonus Track),
Arrest (Bonus Track),
Temptation (Bonus Track),
Meet Me (Bonus Track),
and all instrumentals
What really pissed me off, is the fact that Diamond Skull is about the only track on Convivial that I actually enjoy – and it’s not even on the release I paid for!
You’ll find the links at the bottom of this post. However, please remember that this isn’t going to turn into some mp3 posting blog, trying to rip off artists, but I can’t really stand back and watch this happen to anyone else. Bonus tracks should either appear on EVERY copy of the record, or none at all.
The instrumental of Happy Strong, BTW, OMG!
Update: I wrote this when I was pretty angry and lost focus somewhat. Really the main reason for my rant here is that most of these bonus tracks are ‘digital‘ only, so I’ll never be able to have a physical copy of them. I know a lot of people don’t care about this, but I do. I want a library I can refer to, something with tangible artwork, something I can sit down and share with my kids, as my dad did with me. I don’t want to end up a 40-year-old man explaining to my kids that “Daddy used to have a lot of cool music on his HDD, but I lost it / can’t play it now / deleted it”.
I think we’ve maybe liberated music to the point where it’s no longer valuable, no longer appreciated, and that makes me incredibly sad.
In the early 90’s I thought that I would love the day when I could download any track I wanted to at the click of a button, but all it does is diminish my appreciation of it.
I still remember having to hunt high and low for a copy of Ranta in Glasgow, the excitement of finding it. Or stumbling upon a weird, nameless 12″ single. Now I can’t tell you the last time I even visited a record shop.
Luomo “Plus” – gah… Another new Luomo work. It’s not that I don’t like Luomo (in fact I LOVE Luomo), but the more accessible he tries to make his music, the less accessible it actually becomes. And I don’t mean in the physical purchasing sense, I mean the act of sitting down and consuming the full album becomes more of a challenge to me. It took me the best part of two years to grasp “Paper Tigers” and I’m still working on “Convivial”, although if you were to ask me right now, I’d confess to considering that the one truly bad album the feature Vladislav Delay’s name.
It’s a difficult endeavour to take feelings inspired by music and paste them on a page like this – and I’m certainly not the best at doing it either. So, let me start by first describing the more tangible qualities of the album – the sound quality. Now, I must attest to being a little bit of an audiophile. Not the snake oil and magic cable kind, but the compression hating, digital processor loathing type. I like my music to breathe, have dynamics. I like a bit of noise, or the round sound of tubes. I envy, without limits, the Manley processors Vladislav displays in his studio. I would literally kill for some of that 60’s vintage great he has laying around. I am without reservation, purely in the analogue only camp when it comes to recording (playback is an exception). So, that’s what’s so weird about this album… I’ve never heard a more analogue sounding record in my entire life. Everything has a rubbery bounce, and a smoothness to it. It’s recorded in an immaculate, beautiful, no compromise fashion… But I’m not sure I like it.
The whole album sounds too detuned, or too ‘warm’ to be a techno / house record. It sounds like 1972. It’s difficult to point out exactly what is causing this, but the music lacks definition. The album sounds like it was mixed for headphones, but exhibits some odd phase problems when listening on cans. It reminds me a little of the Kraftwerk sound, and that’s not a compliment. For once it sounds as if Vladislav Delay has been influenced by his equipment, rather than making it do his bidding he has stepped back and let it do it’s thing. There’s much less of a signature to the sound than normal – I would not have recognised this on sound alone as a Luomo disc had the name not been on it, and to me that’s a great shame.
My suspicion is that Vladislav has now become a bit of a gear head, and once what were once just little machines that made noises have now become more than that. They seem to have become the substance of the material rather then the means of expressing it. But, hey, I could be wrong. Anyway, this is all just aesthetics, nothing to lose focus on.
Let me get this out of the way before we discuss the music; this is not micro-house. “VocalCity” wasn’t micro-house, “The Present Lover” wasn’t micro-house. Luomo was never micro-house. Anyone who contests otherwise is nothing less than an absolute fucking moron. If you were expecting 808 drums with a 500hz cut, go look else where. In fact, go and fuck off and die in your skinny jeans wearing, trendy little clubbing sub-genre.
Right from the start, the musical writing displays the characteristics of a Luomo work. The opening track, “Twist”, is a subdued, long drawn piece. Slowly building, and combining to become almost fully formed. However it’s quite evident that it was written to be an album opener, and wouldn’t really stand on it’s own as a single piece. But Luomo makes albums, not tracks – so it’s perhaps not the sharp criticism you may have assumed, but at over eight minutes long it does become a little tedious after the first listen.
Track two, “Good Stuff” is one of the tracks that was available for preview on SoundCloud (YUK!), so has lost a little bit of it’s fresh feel. In saying that, the track has a lot to offer. Another epically long piece, nine minutes ten seconds to be exact, it feels very “Detroit 1984”. We’re treated to resonant synthesis and slippery sounding hooks, setting the motif of the album quite aptly. Very subdued chord progression never really find the space to flourish, and the bassline only pins things down on breaks. It sounds to me like a cross between Donna Summers and Soft Cell, but then again, I’m a little bit crazy.
I don’t know if this is a conscious decision or not, but the third track on every Luomo disc since “The Present Lover” seems to express the most swagger and confidence on every disc. “Plus” is no exception. “How You Look” is a plodding, stabbing synth effort where the kick drum takes centre place. Layered vocals are draped over the top of things, making it sound a little deeper than it actually is. Percussion builds to excellent effect, and really grooves and swings better than any Luomo track ever has. There is also an interesting use of the bass synth arpeggiator which is allowed at one point to run on a quarter bar too far, going into the wrong key, and forcefully grabbing the attention of the listener before the next track begins. A fantastic idea, if a little awkward in it’s execution.
“Plus” takes until track four to push the vocals to the front. “Make My Day” is the first, and one of the few tracks on the entire album to be what I’d consider vocally driven. And even then, at the bridge Luomo sees fitto suppress them in acres of delay, where usually they would enter a crescendo of vocal cuts. “Make My Day” is best described as a classically produced house track, with some uniquely written solo parts. Weird but cool has long been the Luomo trade mark, but some times I wonder if he errs too much towards the former. Probably the most self-indulgent track on the disc, reinforced by the point that it just seems to fade into nothingness, proceeded by some random keys… Again though, it’s closer to cool than contrived.
“Happy Strong” is a brilliant, shining example of why I love Luomo so much. No one else in the entire world can drop gems like this, and to do so with such nonchalance brings a smile to my face every time. I didn’t like this when I first heard it, I dismissed it as an off cut from the latest Sistol effort, but there was something to it. Something about “Happy Strong” has engrained itself in my psyche. In essence, it’s quite a sparse track, there’s only main elements to it – C minor pad, patterned drums, vocal hook, bassline. That’s it really – and none of which show much, if any, variation throughout the whole eight minutes of the track. Each element just happens to be utterly perfect, and everything is perfectly executed. The whole record is perfect. Everything bounces and plods, rhythms have an energy and a spirit the flows out of the speakers. You become lost in that glistening pad, as the drums bump you along. You can genuinely feel the magic. This is the track that makes the whole album worth while – this is a track that could make any album worth while. This is not only one of Luomo’s best tracks, but also one of the best pieces of music ever to be placed on wax and released to the Ether. Apparently there’s four more tracks after this one – my rewind button seems to think otherwise.
In actual fact, the four proceeding tracks suffer terribly from anonymity. I don’t remember much about them other than experiencing crushing disappointment and slight boredom, which is a crying shame. Hazy, distant vocals, reverb laden percussion, nothing distinctive or unique. I’m sure they will grow on me over time, but whether or not I am willing to ever even listen to them again is a bit of a question… It’s a shame to end a new album on such a weak note, especially an album I was looking forward to for so long.
At the end of all this, I can’t help wonder if it’s me. Maybe I’m the problem. Maybe it’s me that’s change and I’m no longer cool. I spent this weekend unironically listening the the Labyrinth sound track. Ten years ago you couldn’t have paid me to listen to that shit, but now it’s all “Dance magic, dance magic, dance…” as I picture 10 grunged-up Kermit the Frogs grooving around. Getting old is a terrible thing.
“Plus” is still an excellent and notable album, even if only half of it really works right now. Is that enough to make it a decent buy? Yeah, without doubt. I think it’s best viewed as five incredible, and interesting tracks, with the addition of four tracks that may be growers – as it is really too early to rule them out totally (and I’ve yet to be let down by any VD production). Music isn’t like wine, it doesn’t get better with age – the listener does. That tracks done’t become better, but maybe my appreciation for them will become more evident as time passes.
Luomo hasn’t lost his magic, it’s just become a little more sporadically placed.
18.9.2011. Hoping to have a review copy before then. Can’t wait!
edit1: The bastards won’t be sending me the review copy – I’ll need to wait another week for general release.
edit2: Review copy arrived this morning, just in time to make me look like an impatient bastard. Listening to it right now. Will take a few more days before I can grasp it enough to form initial opinion. It’s very good though.
So, it’s been a couple of years since the flat “Convivial” was released, and now Mr Delay will soon be offering up a new Luomo disc. I’m excited in a sense, but it’s not without a slight feeling of unease.
You see, like it or not, when I get a new Luomo album my ears expect three things. Those are; Luomo, Raz Ohara, and Johanna Iivanainen. Why? I don’t know, it’s just to me these three people form what I think to be the Luomo project (not Sasu and a bunch of uninspired ‘famous’ vocalists). It looks again like I may be disappointed, as the albums literature seems to boast “Vocals: Chicago Boys”. Hmm… anonymous vocalists on a house record – how original!
Then again, after listening to some of the previews on LuomoMusic.org I find myself liking the groove, even if it’s not the subtly elegant groove that Luomo once spoiled us with. It sounds to me a bit like Sistol gone house. It’s very, very electro, whilst maintaining a 4/4 techno chassis, and even under its layers of percussion, still sounds utterly synthetic and most importantly, unique.
The other two tracks available for listening are “Good Stuff” and “Spy”. To my ears, they both sound a little awkward. They both sound like someone having self-indulgent fun with synthesizers, and not well written music (Yes, Sasu, I know you invested in a Cwejman S1, I can hear it on every bloody track now…). This results in them feeling a little played and tired, even before their time.
I’m sure the album will have a lot more to offer, and I’m always anxious to hear new Luomo, but I just can’t help shake the feeling that there will never be another “VocalCity” (or even another “The Present Lover” for that matter). Then again, I’d be first to complain if he was covering old ground. Poor bugger can’t win…