Vocalcity (20th Anniversary Re-Master)

Vocalcity (20th Anniversary Re-Master)

Luomo’s Vocalcity was a game-changer. The artist behind the project, Finland’s Sasu Ripatti, had arrived just the year before, in 1999, plying dusty, heavily abstracted strains of ambient and dub techno under a trio of aliases: Conoco, Sistol, and, most famously, Vladislav Delay. Come 2000, Vladislav Delay’s releases for Germany’s Mille Plateaux and Chain Reaction labels confirmed him as one of the key visionaries of “clicks and cuts,” a hazy strain of minimal electronics notable for its austerity. With Luomo, he flipped the script entirely. In place of scratchy drum machines and digital glitches, he unfurled billowing chords; the beats traded his other aliases’ spidery abstraction for deep house of the most sensual sort. Lest anyone be confused, he suffused it all in sounds of the human voice. Lead track “Market” balances its springy, dubby beats with a wistful vocal melody reminiscent of Herbert and Dani Siciliano’s music, and “Tessio” boasts an even more ebullient topline, driving home the romance implicit in the album. Elsewhere, the vocals float deeper in the mix, almost subliminal, like in the hypnotic refrain of “Class.” Sometimes that human element is the equivalent of a sigh in the darkness—the presence of another body so close you can practically feel it. In the coming years, Ripatti would keep pushing his sound in new directions, but there’s a purity and a mystery to Vocalcity that he has never quite repeated.

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