Sasse: Toinen

Though his Moodmusic label's been in operation for more than ten years, Berlin-based Sass (Finland-born Klas Lindblad) is only now issuing his second artist album Toinen (“second,” naturally, in Finnish)—a fact that's especially surprising in light of his fifteen-year career and the hundreds of singles, EPs, and remixes he's released during that time. Regardless, Toinen clearly sounds like the work of someone in complete control of his production and arranging skills. While his 2006 debut album Made Within The Upper Stairs Of Heaven apparently featured a pronounced Italo influence, the new collection builds upon that jubilant disco-inflected base by sweetening it with a Detroit-styled dimension. Though the opening cut is titled “Berlin,” traces of Italo are definitely audible (and electro too) but the lithe bass line's got Detroit written all over it. “Break Up” likewise blends sun showers of Italo and house euphoria into a delicious fusion, and the cut's soaring mix of charging pulses and radiant synth melodies is beautiful to behold, as is the late-inning breakdown which briefly grants the bass the spotlight. Even so, to these ears Toinen still sounds closer in spirit to Italo-house than techno though there's nothing objectionable about that when the material sounds so fresh.

Animated by a snappy minimal house swing, “Clemens” builds its feverish intensity through the repetition of its classic syncopated chords and a prototypically stoked groove. The mood turns ultra-funky when intricate cross-currents of brightly-coloured synthesizer patterns swell rapturously during “Friday Sessionz” while a funky Latin percussion pattern rubs shoulders with a straight-up 4/4 pulse that Lindblad bolsters with triangle and handclap punctuations in “Wrapper.” Subtract the pulsating house swing of “Fly” and you'd be hearing a jazz-rooted compositional inventiveness that could have come from the pen of Weather Report's Joe Zawinul, and a similar fusion-styled strain runs through the steamy closer “Big” when its keyboard melodies coil in and around one another. Mention must be made of the crystal clear production quality which allows every sound to be heard in its utmost clarity while also contributing to the sparkling whole. Lindblad's distinctive blend of Italo, house, techno, funk and fusion leaves a strong impression indeed on this hour-long recording.

December 2008