This album, like Whistleblower before it, is difficult music in the sense that it commands attention while rebuffing easy interpretation. But what sets Ripatti's latest apart from his canon is its uncanny ability to perfectly soundtrack different personal contexts. A track like "Mustelmia" can sound pensive and filled with as much canned bluster as a gathering storm on the ride to the office and then morph into something mushy, enervated and contaminated once you get there. Tummaa is by far the most dynamic and moody release under the Delay name. The appropriately named opener "Melankolia" has nearly classical moments of searching piano set against a backdrop of tire-leak hisses and card-shuffle percussion. Understated and affecting.
No sound is allowed to escape untreated. Every wandering bass tone, each sesame-seed sprinkle hat, every load-bearing beam of piano warmth…all are sanded, primed, sprayed and lacquered in effects, leaving a sonic clinic that is spotless and edgeless, while remaining uneasy and spontaneous. "Musta Planeeta," for example, has a shivery little keyboard run near the end that bounces like a horsefly against a clear picture window. Perfectly honed synthetic spaces haunted by organic forms. Another example: on highlight "Tolve," seven minutes are spent creating a fluid, comforting miasma, and then a martial drum clatter emerges from the waters like a hand holding Excalibur and the track pivots and becomes aggressive and taut, while keeping the shimmering moisture in the background. For ambient heads waiting to be thrown a bone this year, it's a fuck-yes moment.
It's hard not to sound pretentious when writing about a record like this, but these tunes earn the purple praise many times over. There are challenging and even boring portions to the record, as in the stretches of stutter and silence in the title track. But unlike typical "difficult" music that aesthetes use to conceal their fraudulence—emperor's new clothes style—this album is immediately compelling and dramatic even for the non-ambient techno fan, despite its apparent lack of entry-level conceptual footholds. I've tested it on people…it's an empirical fact that this is beautiful music, no matter what your background is.