The Present Lover
I first heard the title recording of Luomo’s The Present Lover on the Digital Disco compilation in 2002, where in some ways it typified the music around it: synth-pop big on novelty effects. But Vladislav Delay, who is Luomo, clearly has more to offer than that. Heard here at album length, his music is theatrical, but also strangely calm and intimate, especially for a record designed for clubs. The songs stammer, pop and shimmer out of your speakers like a dream girl, alternately twitching and laying back in a bed of microhouse.
Side note: I don’t know what the pseudonym means either; if it was me, I’d have just called myself Delay, considering Luomo’s fondness for the digital variety. But enough about that. What makes The Present Lover stand out from today’s other electronic albums like Crystal Method’s latest or even the brilliant Queer Eye soundtrack?
1. A certain darkness. “Shelter,” for example, sounds like a Violet Indiana dance remix (which is actually a brilliant idea in and of itself — Robin Guthrie, call Luomo).
2. Where some of his colleagues on the Force Tracks label might be too fond of both boy and girl divas, Delay makes them all part of the same — dare I say it? — wall of sound. In Luomo’s records, vocals and music are all one piece, there to be manipulated. In some cases (such as the title tune) he actually plays the vocal through sampling, breaking the lyric down into beats and pieces. Yet the effect is not distancing, it almost seems like snatches of conversation overheard in a bookstore, leaving you to puzzle together their meanings.
3. The songs hold together, despite their seemingly inherent flightiness, thanks in part to heavenly vocalists. Said vocalists are frustratingly inadequately credited. I know only from reading the press release that Johanna Niemela, someone named Watkinson, Antye Greie-Fuchs and Raz O’Hara appear on the album. But there’s no indication of what songs they perform. I don’t know which of them, for example, sings on the opening number “Visitor,” with its off-center lyric or “Body Speaking.” Whoever it is, she’s got Olivia Newton-John’s strangely seductive yet sexless sound down pat. I mean it, she’s a dead ringer. And hey! “Body Speaking…” “Let me hear your body talk…” You can’t tell me that wasn’t intentional.
Basically, if you still like house music but feel you’ve grown to a point where it could be a bit deeper, this is for you. It ain’t The Coasters, but what is nowadays? It’s music, it’s not gonna change your life. It’s just exceptionally pleasant, minimalist space-age love.
Kinetic Records: http://www.kineticrecords.com/