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Luomo - Plus

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Artist: Luomo

Album: Plus

Label: Mood Music

Review date: Jan. 5, 2012

For many listeners, the high-water mark of Sasu Ripatti’s vocal-house moniker, Luomo, is 2000’s Vocalcity. While I admire the album and appreciate how it stands up to close listening, I don’t have a deep personal connection with it -- though if I squint, I can see why subsequent Luomo material comes up short in others’ opinions. Plus is the latest entry, the fifth album under that name in just under 10 years, and another addition to Ripatti’s torrential discogaphy.

Plus is a difficult album to have an angle on. All of it is very good — and without faulting Ripatti for being too good, the productions are so seamless that they encourage a middle-distance stare instead of active listening. But that actually presents a pretty cool affect, especially on the opener, “Twist,” which writhes in your peripheral vision with a cool grey glow.

As he displayed on another 2011 release, the collaborative Vladislav Delay Quartet LP, Ripatti gets down with some pretty gnarly tones when he’s in an experimental mood, but his dance-oriented stuff has been moving toward smoother, more synthetic tones for a while. The palette he uses on Plus isn’t far removed from the one he used a year ago on On the Bright Side, a techno one-off released under yet another guise, Sistol, and it’s pretty far removed from the druggy, granular haze of his early Chain Reaction stuff.

But noting that Plus doesn’t have much edge doesn’t mean it isn’t pleasurable. With track lengths averaging around five minutes, there’s even a kind of poppy feel that doesn’t grant the space for the kinds of lengthy, rolling tracks that make Vocalcity a unique experience. Lengthier tracks like “Happy Strong” stray from house foundations into stomping techno; what it lacks in micro-detail and subtle, deep tweaks it makes up for with groove. It’s followed by the deep house of “Medley Through,” which almost sounds ambient set among focused dance exercises.

Plus isn’t going to set anyone’s mind on fire, but it’s yet another admirable piece of work from Luomo. It’s less heady than some listeners would like to hear from Ripatti, but it also seems the artist has reached a level of formal control where, instead of adapting a single aesthetic to different contexts, he has distinct approaches to each genre he throws himself into.

By Brandon Bussolini

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