Monday, April 21, 2008

my dear friend vladislav

it is now late at night after a rough day, which has come on the back of an overly busy and stressful period of constant over-work (any people out there thinking about doing a PhD, i would suggest thinking carefully), and my instinctive response was to turn the lights down, put some vladislav delay on the stereo and then turn the volume up loud. for those of you who know his work, chances are you will join in this little love letter to my favourite producer, and for those who have not yet discovered the sounds of vladislav delay, please read closely and pay attention.

i first discovered the music of vladislav (his real name may be sasu ripatti, but he will always be vlad to me) back in 2000 with his release on chain reaction, 'multila'. while i appreciated its deep rumbling techno dub, it was his next album shortly after on mille plateaux, 'entain', that fully converted me to vlad. since then, he has never left my side, with his sounds providing me with warmth, comfort, solace, escape when needed.

early in 2001 i was feeling rather disenchanted with electronic music. at the same time i purchased two cds, which removed this feeling and reminded me how special this music can be. the first was herbert's wonderful 'letsallmakemistakes' globius mix, the other was vlad (or sasu) under the guise of uusitalo and his 'vapaa muurari live'. both of these cds still sound amazing today, and the warmth and feeling conveyed in 'vapaa muurari' - especially in the final section of the piece 'lunni' - is something i can personally find and connect with in few artists.

it was vlad's next piece of work, 'anima', which has been since i first heard it - and remains - my favourite piece of music. the cd consists of one 62 minute track that flows and ebbs, constantly exploring a similar territory of sound, without ever quite returning to where it had been previously. it kind of feels like being afloat at sea - constantly in the water, but never in quite the same place and each wave being different. i am probably getting a bit lyrical now, but the point is this is a very special album for me that has been with me constantly since i bought it as soon as it was released.

to be honest, following this highpoint, i went through an inevitable period of disappointment. vlad became luomo, and while he did do some really good stuff, he wasn't doing what i wanted him to do. when he did come back to being vlad, the magic wasn't quite there - at least not to the same extent. demo(n) tracks in 2004 and the four quarters the following year were both good and definitely had their moments, but neither were quite able to evoke the same feelings his earlier releases had.

this changed with his release last year, whistleblower. i am listening to this album as i write up this post and i really feel this is vlad's (and probably sasu's) strongest outing in many years. for me - with my biases - this was the best album i heard in 2007. like his best material, it replicates the very unique and distinct sound signature one associates with vladislav delay, without it ever getting boring or repetitive. vlad's sound operates in its own separate world, and while the basic features of this world stay the same, the details shift, alter and reshape (fellow ssg pete wrote an excellent review on 'whistleblower' at RA which inspired some of these thoughts). one of the real highlights of last year was to discover that vlad was still alive and travelling along with me.

i could keep going, but i shall wind up this post. vladislav delay's music has been very close to my heart for around 8 years now. i have never grown tired of his sounds, nor looked for another friend to help me along during those times when i am tired, unhappy, quiet, meloncholic, ambivalent, or contemplative and reflective. vlad has provided company and a soundtrack for me in these moments of my life and i feel lucky to have such a good musical friend.

if you haven't listened to any or much of his work, i strongly suggest changing this asap. here is a live recording of vladislav delay at DEMF, 28.05.2007. also if you go to the media page on his website, there are a number of tracks you can download. these should give you a good introduction to his distinctive sound palette. finally, it happens (and this is coincidental - i just discovered when writing this post) that vladislav is releasing 'anima' with a brand new track. my original version is starting to get a bit worse for wear, so i am looking forward to getting the re-release. anyway, more info about the re-release here. in my opinion, pretty much his whole back catalogue is worth getting your hands on...

ok, i shall leave it there. thanks vlad. you've been a great source of comfort and strength over the years. you're a good friend.


  1. Hello, chiming in here with what's basically a "me too!" post ...

    Because, yes, Vlad is amazing. For me, my "entry drug" into the world of Vladislav Delay was "Anima". As Chris says, it's a very special album. Hell, it's a *masterpiece*. It creates a world that you can crawl into and inhabit (and drift along with). And the final minute or so ... man, it still gives me chills, every time I hear it.

    I'm really glad to see it's getting a re-release. If you haven't heard it before, now's your chance - because you really *do* need to hear this. (This is one of the reasons why Mille Plateaux's demise was such a loss- so many great albums suddenly went out of print.)

    I agree that while "Demo(n) Tracks" and "The Four Quarters" have their charms, they're not as sublime as "Anima", "Entain", and "Multila". (I think both Chris and myself are politely ignoring the live album, "Naima". Maybe you just had to be there.)

    "Whistleblower", however, is indeed a fantastic return to form. And if you haven't checked out the Andy Stott remix of "Recovery IDea", well, you really need to, because it's bloody fantastic.

    Hmm, okay, I really am pretty much repeating everything Chris said ... I better add something of my own ...

    Much like Chris, I can't think of Vladislav Delay as Sasu Ripatti. I remember talking to him (Vlad, that is) after a Luomo gig at the old Liquid Room in Tokyo. After chatting for a while I said, "hang on, what should I call you?"

    He became visibly tense at this point, and said (somewhat fearfully), "you mean my real name?"

    "Oh, no," I said, "I just mean what do you feel most comfortable with in conversation. Luomo? Vladislav?"

    He relaxed. "Vladislav," he said. From that point on, I've never been able to think of him as anything other than Vlad. It's almost like trying to take off Batman's mask - sure, Bruce Wayne is underneath, but the Batman mask is his real face.

    (Of course, that falls apart a little now, because Sasu Ripatti has three masks he can wear ... )


  2. I woke up with an more or less incapacitating flu the other day. My first instinct was to lie on bed listening to Multila.

    I was also thinking, earlier, that even 8 years in, I don't doubt for a second that he won't be looked back upon as one of the absolute most talented musical figures of the entire decade. What a remarkable resume he's made for himself.

  3. And me as a third for the 'high five' here. A friend of mine, Toby, is a percussionist who expressed some interest in 'new music'. I wondered what to give him... then I gave him Whistleblower, on the understanding that Sasu conceives of it as percussive, essentially. That his background's as a jazz drummer and that the Vlad work is about pushing the percussion into its deepest enigmas.... and then I got home and Chris had posted this!

    And all this after I dusted off Anima just last week... very interesting indeed. But don't listen to Chris about Luomo... it's also the shiz.

    I would also say that the Four Quarters is probably my favourite Vlad album, and that Demo(n) Tracks might be the most important, as it got me through a tough period while being a performing tame gaijin in Tokyo.

    But a warning: listening to Vlad will give you high standards. Other music may come to sound sound flat, boring and unimaginative by comparison...

    ...fundamentally, all I ask of music is that it be an expression of the following (in descending order of importance):

    1) passion

    2) personality

    3) concept

    ...where an artist can really dig deep and give something of themselves, then (secondarily) focus that through a fascinating frame, that's all I need...

    Alongside Sasu's work, I think of Isolee's 'Rest', Arthur Russell's 'World of Echo', Bob Marley's 'Exodus', Eno/Byrne's 'My Life in the Bush of Ghosts' and Nicolai/Sakamoto's 'Vriion'.

    All of these works are incomparable, to me. What are some of yours, people?

  4. Fourth "high five" in order here.

    I'm a fellow PhD slave and find Vladislav Delay almost unparalleled as working music. I don't mean this in a that's-nice-background-music-while-I-get-busy-on-the-keyboard way, but in the sense that something in his music seems to mirror the process of thinking and writing. Maybe it's the marriage of dubby low-end and astral synths, the grubby work of composing words with the light-headed meandering of thoughts.

    Tertiary education pursuits aside, he's also unparalleled as nachtmusik. As you know.

    And rainy day music.

    And, well, let's just say unparalleled.

    Where the hate at? My girlfriend doesn't like him, for one. She was much keener on Ghislain Poirier's Il n'y a pas de sud, in the world of down-and-dubby electro. I like that too, but it's not got the consistent quality of our man from Finland. Maybe it's a dude-to-dude thing?

  5. <3 vlad

    i am also a student and cling onto artists like this to get me through.

    i should be writing pole/vladislav/fennesz/hecker/deadbeat/a.noto/sakamoto up in my bibliography for each essay and report

    they all achieve a mozart effect on me, at least while im working. listening to them while it is raining in our warehouse is sublime


  6. the passion i hear people speaking with when they talk about vlad has got me really interested. Looking forward to getting into it. I like this blog because i know if people here like a sound, i too will like that sound. Large doses of respect to the people that keep this little gem of a blog alive.

  7. glad to hear there is so much love for vlad. such an amazing musician. i would just love to meet him one day and give him a big hug and say thanks. anyway...

    and to whoever wrote that last post - thanks so much for the kind words. they are very much appreciated. we are trying hard to make sure our ssgs taste good.

  8. I too have had a longstanding crush on this most intriguing of artists. ever since a friend loaned me his 'Entain' cd and I popped it into my car cd player for a rainy evening drive... I will never forget how that experience changed me. I find that all of his releases have their merit. each one a unique take on the vladislav delay central concept. I did get to meet him before a luomo show at the Baltic room in seattle. he is quite shy and I found I had very little to even try to talk about. although I was meeting a personal musical hero so my brain may have frapped out on me. if you get a chance to see vladislav delay live, do it. it's an experience to remember!

  9. Another comment mentions the passion with which people speak of Vladislav Delay. I agree with that sentiment ---if this music connects with you, it tends to really hit somewhere deep; you become very devoted to it.

    It's intensely personal, but in getting to that point it also taps into something more universal. It is nice to see that there are indeed others who have also been affected by it in such a strong way! I suspected you were all out there somewhere....


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