Sami Koivikko

Salmiakki

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The striking three-part Kut Pulatin series of singles for Shitkatapult, in addition to another 12" for Festplatten, established this Finnish producer's role in a field dominated by Germans. Two of the tracks from those releases were tapped for prominence on Kompakt mix albums: Triple R's Friends included "Byrthe," and Tobias Thomas' Smallville featured the incisive slice-scrapes of "Grunis." The two tracks "Grunis" was sandwiched between perfectly indicated where Koivikko's heart fell, landing between the downcast European microfunk of Jan Jelinek and the modern Detroit-bred techno of Aril Brikha. This all led up to an overdue full-length for Shitkatapult, which might surprise those who had been keeping an eye on the producer's actions since 2001. Like MRI, Sascha Funke, Jonas Bering, and plenty of others who started out making pure (!) microhouse in the late '90s/early 2000s -- with skeletal arrangements and fragmented accents all around -- Koivikko has taken a route that involves a thickening of his earlier sound. There's a considerable amount of heft in these new tracks -- beats that punch instead of nudge or tease, for instance -- when compared to the older material. If the Kut Pulatin tracks hovered and loomed, these practically smack and batter in comparison. Despite this, the elements of his tracks hardly coagulate into sludge; they do the exact opposite, actually, flowing with a quickened pulse. Koivikko has broadened the range of moods he creates as well, perhaps knowing that an entire hour of unrelenting unease and menace would be potentially grueling. This isn't to say that any of the tracks are celebratory in any sense of the word -- "Materialist" is one of the moodiest things he's done to date, containing all of the white-knuckled tension of a scene from a suspense thriller. On the other hand, "Unovun," "Kampakuta," and "Pehme" unravel with an assured propulsion that's neither peppy nor ominous. With all of this to consider, what stands out most about the album is that it's just as difficult to single out standout tracks as it is to point toward weak moments. Even more importantly, each successive track offers a different experience.

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