Vladislav Delay’s Gnashing Gears

The tracks are dire, corrosive, and insistent — which is to say, they're great.

Apparently the recordings that constitute this excellent album by Vladislav Delay, Isoviha, are four years old but it has only just been released. The tracks are dire, corrosive, and insistent — which is to say, they’re great. The music pushes rhythms to the breaking point, and then celebrates when the rhythms don’t merely break but fracture, splinter, and leave detritus in their flowing, hypnotic wake.

The music tends toward the urban industrial. “Isopaska” is the sound of a central utility hub after its transformers blow and the building melts. Like “Isomulkku,” which follows shortly thereafter, it features a brief vocal element, suggesting an automated emergency alert shortly before succumbing to whatever entropy is at the heart of the given track. Entropy is at the heart of all this music, a tension that lends depth and drama to the often relentless mechanics. Each track is like a machine on the verge of collapse. Delay (the Finnish musician Sasu Ripatti) doesn’t pummel the listener half as much as he pummels his source material.

Each time I play this — and I’ve listened to it frequently since its mid-July 2022 release — I am entranced by the hints of dub that flavor the opening track, “Isovitutus,” before it gives way to head-banging extremes of stop’n’start noise. And Delay is no ungracious host. Amid the gnashing of gears, there is room for “iS,” tellingly the album’s shortest cut, at just over two minutes. It’s by no means a pure drone, as it has sandpaper textures and a fierce undercurrent, but it is a respite, nonetheless, and a welcome one.

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