This is difficult music to listen to. Even for fans of the most avant-garde, experimental messes of noise out there, the first listen of Tummaa is a disconcerting experience. There is not much stable ground here on which to orient yourself—a brief melody prematurely snatched away or a drum line that keeps rhythm for a few measures before fading away is all that is given. This is not necessarily a negative attribute, but it often makes close listening a frustrating experience. Considered as background music, however, the strangeness of some of the sounds and the occasional forwardness of the album in foregrounding those sounds can add an enlightening aura to the most mundane activities.
Sasu Ripatti was trained as a percussionist before he dived headlong into the electronic world under the guises of Vladislav Delay, Luomo, and Uusitalo. For Tummaa, he has returned to his original role as percussionist, recruiting Lucio Capece (clarinet, saxophone) and Craig Armstrong (piano) to fill out his compositions. The result is a shifting, percussive, organic landscape that is alternately soothing and terrifying. This album is more ambient than anything, although it lacks the extreme focus and attention to tone that marks that genre’s best efforts. Hardly engrossing, but suitable for the background if you’ve run out of Basinski or Loscil.