Vladislav Delay: Vantaa

The first question that arises after one learns that Sasu Ripatti's latest Vladislav Delay recording, Vantaa, is being issued on Raster-Noton is to what stylistic degree will its material be affected as a result. Not that that's such an easy thing to determine in the first place, given that virtually every recording issued by Ripatti, regardless of alias, is unpredictable and brings with it some promise of surprise. Having said that, the seven, lugubrious tracks on this tenth Vladislav Delay release, which is being presented as the first chapter in an intended long-lasting collaboration with Raster-Noton, perpetuates the ponderous dub-inflected style Ripatti presented on earlier releases such as Multila (Chain Reaction, 2000), Entain, and Anima (both Mille Plateaux, 2001). Drenched in echo and reverb, elements careen within a mix so thick it's like a body struggling to extricate itself from quicksand.

Certainly the opener “Luotasi” isn't too far removed from the Vladislav Delay style we've encountered in the past. The ultra-dense material develops in seeming slow-motion, with its various muffled elements burbling and echoing within a viscid mass nudged along by a plodding rhythm pattern. The tracks that follow hew to that basic template, though subtle contrasts in tempo do differentiate one from the next. Rhythms advance the material though not through conventional 4/4 patterns; instead, the tracks more convulse in the way they crawl forward. The obvious exception to that rule is the penultimate piece, “Lauma,” which jolts the listener awake with a percussive blast that proceeds to not only hammer incessantly throughout the uptempo track's insistent, eight-minute run but also multiply itself until it becomes an aggressive, multi-layered rampage. Also a surprising move away from the overall style, “Levite” ends the album with six minutes of 4/4 tech-house rhythms that moveVantaa closer to the dancefloor, even if the accompanying elements are as atmospheric, dense, and cloudy as they are on the preceding tracks. So, to return to the question with which we began, to what extent does Vantaa adhere to the Raster-Noton aesthetic? To a modest degree, specifically to the degree that Vantaa's tracks partake of the label material's habit of creating an hypnotic impact through the use of repetition. More to the point, how essential an addition to the Vladislav Delay catalogue is the release? Not all that essential, to be honest: the three aforementioned releases fill in the Delay dots more definitively than does Vantaa, making the latter a perfectly credible entry-point for those new to the Vladislav Delay world but one less necessary for those with other Delay releases already in their collections.

January 2012