Luomo | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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Finnish producer Sasu Ripatti made his name in the late 90s with a series of noisy ambient dubscapes--and though several of them were credited to Conoco and Sistol, that name was Vladislav Delay, the entity to which production was ultimately attributed. Then, in September 2000, he released Vocalcity on Forcetracks--a subdivision of Frankfurt's conceptual techno label Force Inc. devoted to clubbier house--under the alias Luomo. The album, which fused his usual frosty, cerebral approach with the supercharged emotionalism and sonic warmth of diva-led house, came as something of a shock to fans of his earlier work. Constructed of vocal snippets cut and looped over a dense, constantly shifting, groove-based aural tapestry, Vocalcity's songs were all ten minutes or longer and meandering, but they had an irresistible internal logic that commented on house music without forsaking any of its pleasures. The Present Lover, issued last summer in Europe and just out in the U.S. on Kinetic, is uneven by comparison (some of the new disc's shorter songs feel more aimless than long portions of the debut) but also bolder--the sentiment in the lovesick title track and the blissful "What Good" is right up front, nothing shy about it. "What Good" even has a bridge, signaled by a sudden key change and accompanied by a soaring diva vocal, that lights the track up and sends it zooming. And on "Shelter" Ripatti's customary mixture of euphoria and dread seems ready to combust--until at the last moment joy wins out. Billy Dalessandro and Popkan open. Friday, March 5, 9 PM, Abbey Pub, 3420 W. Grace; 773-478-4408.

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