Record Review - 3 December 09 2000

How often does minimalist electronica feel as voluptuously warm-blooded as classic Philadelphia International? Vocalcity, the new album by Luomo, aka Scandinavian math-techno producer Vladislav Delay, is a seeming oxymoron, at once abstruse and compulsively listenable. Combining the cavernous, filtered whooshes of Frankfurt imprint Chain Reaction's "heroin house" with the intimate, bottom-heavy post-disco of Chicago labels like Cajual and Relief, these flinty, velvet-lined grooves flicker into view one detail at a time, attaining complete focus only after several minutes. Call it time-lapse house.
Or call it meta-disco: Vocalcity uncannily evokes the experience of being in a club rather than merely reproducing its soundtrack. Opener "Market," for instance, starts with a squelching machine riff that sounds static at first but becomes elastic over the song's 12 minutes, just like a track that sounds crude and stagnant when you're at the bar becomes liquid and three-dimensional once your body locks into its rhythms on the dance floor.
Delay's vocal treatments further reinforce the album's suggestive quality. The words here are generic fragments and they echo the music's obsessive qualities, their movement in and out of focus rendering them as malleable emotionally as they are sonically. The emphasis of a line like "There's nothing in this world you can do for me/I've done everything for you" changes from desperate to defiant; "Because you move/The way you move/I've got to keep on moving with you" feels first like an act of will, then a swoon — an emotional leap anyone who's ever lost themselves dancing will surely understand.