Vladislav Delay - Visa

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  • Not so long ago, on the strength of a tweeted recommendation, I listened to Sasu Ripatti's 2007 album, Whistleblower. Having been more familiar with his recent (harsher, more beat-driven) work as Vladislay Delay, this strange album of deep, percussive textures was a pleasant surprise. There is a lightness that pulses through Whistleblower, and really all of Ripatti's work—not to say his music can't be challenging, but rather that it is more approachable and less punishing than that of the average Raster-Noton alumnus. His experimentation feels like it's conducted outside of the sterile laboratory environment. Visa sounds like a continuation Whistleblower. It's definitely noisier, maybe a little angrier, too, but the same wonderful ear for sound collage is present. The defining trait of both albums is Ripatti's ability to construct dense textural pieces that appear to have no centre of gravity, no single structural element that the rest of the track hangs on. You get the sense that the music is generating itself, moment-to-moment, rather than following a predestined path. There is continuity, but it's intuitive, somehow natural but never predictable. "Visaton," the opening track, is perhaps the most ambitious example of this approach to date—it's 22 minutes long, but never loses form or intensity. A low, buzzing drone sustains it throughout, hidden underneath quick-fire chord stabs and flickering static. Without seeming to move, the track develops into a fizzing ball of energy, a crescendo that approaches from all angles at once. Eventually it peaks, a snare hit rising in frequency while a sustained piano chord smothered in reverb rushes in underneath. It's a beautiful moment in a track that revels in dissonance and menace, and it goes to heart of what makes Ripatti such an interesting artist. The rest of the album follows a similar formula to its epic opener, blending the noisier, more aggressive elements with an almost hidden, underlying beauty. "Viisari" and "Viimeinen" are a touch more relaxed, more traditionally ambient in a way, though they still vibrate with nervous momentum. "Vihollinen" is, for large stretches, softer and prettier than anything else on the record. For anyone only familiar with Ripatti's recent work, particularly the frantic material he's been putting out under his own name, Visa will be a bit of a curveball. It's a slow burner, extremely committed to a particular emotional atmosphere where anger and frustration rub up against moments of beauty. Despite its layered nuances and depth of design, it still feels organic and terrifically spontaneous. Visa finds Ripatti attuned to a very specific, focused energy, and the result is some of his best work.
  • Tracklist
      01. Visaton 02. Viaton 03. Viisari 04. Vihollinen 05. Viimeinen