Vladislav Delay: Espoo (Raster-Noton)
“Olari,” the first track on this rather odd EP from Sasu Ripatti, starts off unassumingly enough with a sort of machine-gun like stuttering sample of synthesis, with what appears to be a double-time broken beat syncopation. But as is his wont, he confounds expectations by instead lurching into a disorienting, plodding 5/4 groove. It’s surpising and satisfying because he could’ve more easily just thrown down the 4/4 kick that the first minute or two begs for, but Vladislav Delay is not a project in which Ripatti has ever indulged the dancefloor (see Luomo, Sistol or Uusitalo for those perhaps more predictable beats). Even better, though, is “Kolari” which pounds away energetically with an insistent kick drum and gated wall of sound before some light melodic touches accentuate things. The uptempo kick/snare combo reminds me of old electro-industrial stuff like Liaisons Dangereuses or DAF in tempo and demeanor, but it’s all filtered through the Vladislav Delay arsenal of effects and technology in a way that makes this feel both incredibly current but also unique and likely to age quite gracefully, as has many of Ripatti’s productions over the years. Each of these tracks appears in a more abstracted treatment, with “Olari Versio” becoming a lighter, less lumbering study in repetition and rhythm, dropping the heavier handed percussion track altogether and instead opting to focus on the unpredictable stutter of its signature sample. “Kolari Versio” is more exciting to me, with its drum tracks muted but still present, half-tempo, but still effervescent with its bubbly, urgent rhythm. Even though it’s less of a full-on jam than its original version that comes earlier, it’s a nice nod to his more spacious repertoire without looking too far backward, allowing listeners to come down a bit in its more downtempo denouement. Excellent stuff. Along with Ripatti’s full-length under the moniker last year (Vantaa) it’s a reminder that he is constantly evolving and exploring new ideas in new ways. Top notch.