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The electronic superstar known as Vladislav Delay is back with a four-track magnum-opus, this time under the guise of Uusitalo. Having relocated to Germany by way of Finland a few years back, no doubt to capitalize on the popular techno sounds coming out of cities like Berlin, Cologne and Frankfurt - Delay has surprisingly come out on top of it all and has found himself at the forefront of Europe's ultramodern, laptop-toting electronic scene.

With his first singles for Huume, Chain Reaction and Max Ernst under his belt, a flurry of positive criticisms soon followed and a stunning full-length for the Frankfurt-based label Mille Plateaux was to be one of the most highly-anticipated releases of 2000. Entain was a four-track, mostly beatless tar-pit of digital abstraction. Consisting of hinted-at bass-lines, echoing clicks and other unidentifiable minutae that ebbed and flowed throughout a dark backdrop of synthisized "ohm"s. Somewhat slow in pace and very detailed, Entain was a good representation of the Delay sound with a somewhat meditative approach.

Described as a post-production of the Entain sessions, Vapaa Muurari seems more like a continuation of his Luomo music which he uses to explore the boundaries of "minimal house". The four sequenced journeys contained within pick up the beat right from the start, but don't neccessarily stay within the well-worn path of add and subtract. A track like "Notke 2" for instance which starts out as a clicky, teutonic floor-filler soon segues into a jazzy, shuffling, drone-laden trance. Other tracks turn the beat away from the 4/4 and attempt to explore a more skank-infused rhythm. The end result sounding very much like Pole, but ultimately not loose enough to veer away from a steady pulse. It's always the burping synth tones and "minutae" that give Delay his "looseness". But it's his astonishing ability to so effectively combine the dub-like, sculpted approach with the tight, minimal groove that has set him apart from his contemporaries. And like Entain, Vapaa Muurari benefits the listener with its breadth of sound exploration.

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[email protected] | January 2001 | Issue 10