Vladislav Delay - Whistleblower

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  • Winston Churchill famously described Stalin’s Russia as ‘A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma’, and after more than a decade of listening to Sasu Ripatti’s music, this is one of the few phrases that could pin down his work. As Vladislav Delay, he’s electronic music’s greatest conjuror of audible enigmas. Because how do you even describe his sound to a person who’s never heard it? Cop out and gush “It’s wonderful, you just have to experience it”? Maybe true, but not very helpful. Well then, you could say it’s ‘ambient’, but straight away this is inaccurate: Vlad’s albums are riddled with rhythms (if ambience is the beatless audible ‘wallpaper’ that Eno intended). Or you could try by mood, try by feel, with phrases like ‘treading beats, ‘soft padded background’, ‘lumbering bassline’. Or by comparing the albums: On ‘Anima’, it was the sound of something oceanic (like an imminent migraine) slouching toward you, relentlessly. On ‘Demo(n) Tracks’, it was the sound of souls escaping from their machines at angry velocity, surging through black and narrow chasms. On ‘The Four Quarters’, it was the slowly forming ache of four continents drifting into each other, bumping parts, making mountains out of monosyllables. Maybe these descriptions are nothing like what the music is to you – well then, all the better. Maybe the thing to do is just leave the enigma suspended, let it be. This is what I find myself doing in ‘Whistleblower’ – you know it’s Vlad because you’re somewhere, but where? What? Suspended in his place, his world. It pulls you in, starting with soft footsteps, the slow introduction of a bassline of sorts, a wet afternoon captured in field recordings fading through the mix. On ‘Wanted To (Kill)’ a flashing loop spins a space around a moving drumbeat that keeps teasingly weaving into rhythms then ducking out of them. ‘Stop Talking’ wends a little tick-tock of a pocket watch around endless lagging synthbeds. It all sways by, a lumbering meditation with a soft drift that makes it as pleasurable as it is hard to pin down. Somewhere in these sleepwalking hallucinations you can hear cars slide by in the rain, a ping-pong ball getting caught in a plastic cup, snatches of dialogue, faces in the rain, a movement in the dark corner of the room. The whole mood totally involves you, enfolds you inside it. Every time Ripatti makes an album he seems to be remaking music itself, re-defining what is possible to sound out through timbre, rhythm, melody. Each album is a fresh revelation that in some way obscures what came before, throwing doubt on your untroubled understanding of the music by exposing yet another of its shifting aspects. Fundamentally, all Vladislav Delay works are bound together, not by landmarks in landscapes so much as a language, a way of expressing sound that is utterly unique. And if it is one artist’s idiom, it’s one that sets out to bamboozle you with the slippage and totally engross you in its haze. Three months of almost daily listening and ‘Whistleblower’ is still forming and deforming in my ears. How much music has that force? That’s the incomparable world Vladislav Delay.
  • Tracklist
      1. Whistleblower 2. Wanted To (Kill) 3. Stop Talking 4. I Saw A Polysexual 5. Lumi 6. He Lived Deeply 7. Recovery IDea