Editors’ Notes Luomo’s debut, 2000’s Vocalcity, was pitched as “the next chapter in house,” but it marked a new chapter in its creator’s career, too. The artist behind the project was Finland’s Sasu Ripatti, better known for the dub techno and ambient of his Vladislav Delay alias—a sound that, as Luomo, he jettisoned in favor of enveloping deep house. Three years later, The Present Lover might as well have been a whole new volume in his story. Signed for the first time to a major label, he doubled down on the melody and emotion of Luomo’s debut. It’s still deep house, with a glimmer of UK garage in the skipping beats of “So You” and “Shelter,” but the colors are richer, the vocals more up front, the melodies closer to pop than turn-of-the-millennium underground dance music. He hadn’t entirely shed his ambient inclinations; the opening “Visitor” is a beatless swirl of synths and voice, sounding almost like a Vladislav Delay remix of Kylie Minogue. But between the heavier beats and insistent choruses, it’s clear that he’s grabbing for pop’s brass ring. The shift is clearest on “Tessio,” which appears in a new version that’s a world away from its appearance on Vocalcity: This time its dubby atmospheres are secondary to the driving groove, and there’s even a silvery filigree of acoustic guitar, a hallmark of the era’s R&B. That said, it’s not “just” a pop album: the glitch study “Cold Lately,” featuring the cut-up vocals of Ripatti’s wife, the artist AGF, strikes a perfect balance between his experimental interests and his pop instincts.

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