Konstellaatio is Ø's first proper full-length since 2008's Oleva, though Vainio actually started working on it in 2006. That helps explain why it sounds closer to the ambient style of 2005's Kantamoinen (which took five years to produce). It also contextualizes the 2011 record Heijastuva (a touching, entirely beat-less four-tracker that included three older tracks) within the project's catalog. Here, with a little over an hour of music spread across nine tracks, his approach is as subdued and introspective as it's ever been.
"Otava" is a warm welcome, its intermittent percussion and soft, starlit contours suggesting you recline a little further in your chair, before the relatively more assertive "Syvyydessä Kimallus" and "Kesäyön Haltijat" begin the move toward more somber places. "Elämän Puu" and "Talvipäivä, Vanha Motelli," each almost ten minutes in length, form Konstellaatio's sprawling centerpiece. Both see Vainio creating a series of mostly beat-less vignettes separated by tense bits of silence. It's probably the toughest part of the album, though not without its rewards—like the twinkling, heartstring-tugging bells and beeps near the end of each track. But the finest cut here, and perhaps the saddest, is the last one, "Takaisin," where Vainio weaves a minimal drum pattern and sustained bass notes together with a delicate, increasingly echo-laden ten-beat melody. The cumulative effect is at once sorrowful and hypnotic.
Konstellaatio does suffer occasionally from a bit too much emptiness, and because of that it demands a lot of patience. But, for fans of Ø, or anyone keen on abstract, contemplative electronic music, this is a fine release with more than a few fantastic moments.