Finnish microhouse pioneer Sasu Ripatti has assembled an array of disparate singers on his fourth album as Luomo, his pop-house alias - and the result is a superbly realised work, easily the equal of his 2003 masterpiece The Present Lover. Vocals range from Cassy's smoky, sultry depths to Jake Shears' disembodied sleaze a nd Sue Cie's laconic, Tom Tom Club-esque rapping; Ripatti responds by swathing them in intricate cocoons of sound. Wintry synths, clicking rhythms and detailed counterpoint melodies prevail, underpinned by a steady house pulse.
Just before entering a seemingly inescapable cul-de-sac after 2006's Paper Tigers, Sasu Ripatti evades it by throwing Luomo into reverse. Convivial, however, is not quite a revisitation of Vocal City or The Present Lover, two of the most seismic house albums released during the decade. It's the most song-oriented Luomo album, with the lyrical and vocal contributions expanded from Paper Tigers' featured voice, Johanna Iivanainen, to include fellow Europeans Cassy, Sascha Ring, Sue Cie, and an "anonymous" gent named Chubbs, as well as Americans Robert Owens and Scissor Sister Jake Shears.
Since the turn of the millennium, countless producers have been chasing the sleek, ebullient, and deeply satisfying aesthetic of the cosmic disco of the late Force Tracks label. Consistently making the prize more elusive has been Finland’s Sasu Ripatti, one of the early Force Tracks elite under the nom de plume Luomo. Luomo has gotten a lot of traction out of well-polished glacial synths and brisk bouncy beats, and Ripatti’s albums have consistently seen this sound grow exponentially outward.
While it met the collective cold shoulder of ‘inflated online music critic expectations’ when released in 2006, I quite enjoyed Luomo’s third album, Paper Tigers. It may not have reached the heights of its predecessors, 2000’s Vocalcity and 2003’s The Present Lover, but "Good To Be With,” "Really Don’t Mind" and "Wanna Tell" were all sumptuous, and lyrically, Finnish producer Sasu Ripatti had made some significant strides. The lover’s lament of "Wanna Tell" perfected the game of emotional tag he had been playing across these records, where the tics of interpersonal, romantic anxiety manifest through lyric, delivery and production.