Vladislav Delay

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Isoviha Review

by Paul Simpson

Recorded before the 2020 release of Vladislav Delay's brutal, apocalyptic Rakka, Isoviha inhabits a similar post-industrial sound realm. Instead of interpreting life in the barren tundra of the Arctic Circle, however, Isoviha is meant to be a return to civilization, channeling the fast-paced, unceasing activity of a busy city through abrasive, caustic loops and jagged, noisy cycles. It's hard to tell if he's directly sampling and manipulating audio from a metropolitan environment, but the sudden, bracing bursts and stop-start rhythms match the sensation of walking through the main avenues of a city and being bombarded with construction activity, garbage trucks, bustling crowds, unmanageable traffic, and anything else likely to cause an overload of anxiety. Dubby synth textures act as a slight buffer, but the shocking convulsions attack from other angles, and even when things seem to settle into rhythmic patterns, something new pops up and displaces the sense of familiarity. Tracks like "Isoteko" subvert bleeps and synth melodies common to techno and house, rendering them as aural panic attacks. "Isoviha" and "Isovihane" insert severely distorted voices into broken, footwork-like beat structures, and "Isomulkku" features the scrambled speech of a malfunctioning robot alongside unsettling vibrations. The static scraping of the brief interlude "iS" is the closest the album gets to a moment of ambient reflection -- the unhinged feedback and harsh shredding of pieces like "Isorakas" is more common. On paper, all of this sounds like it would add up to a tremendous headache for the listener, but Vladislav Delay is a master sound sculptor, and he's able to shape chaotic disarray into something strong and stimulating. Along with both Rakka volumes, Isoviha is some of his most exciting work.

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