Vladislav Delay’s Visa

Walled out and the sound thereof

Visa took shape after Vladislav Delay’s 2014 U.S. tour was cancelled due to visa issues. The inane bureaucracy of it all inspired Susa Ripatti’s return to ambient music, following a decade spent glitching across a fragmented ether. The Finish experimentalist shepherded minimal dub-techno with decisive records on Chain Reaction and Mille Plateau.

He also perfected micro-house – a genre that as far as I’m concerned Ripatti’s Luomo project started, perfected, and put to rest – and more recently he’s churned out deconstructionist glitch for his own Ripatti imprint.

Glitch disinterests me, although I experienced its charms through a different outlet – by flushing Ritalin down the toilet as a middle school spastic. Some nostalgia should be shot in the dark and left to rot. Slivers of glitch emerge on Visa, most noticeably in the depths of “Visaton,” the 24-minute opener, but they remain filtered within a harrowing hum of elongated noise and overcast processing.

Dark ambient vistas permeate Visa in gorgeous fashion. Dense spaces wash in before expanding outward, allowing a vacant essence to materialize, like the sparse decor of an interrogation room resounding in mono tinnitus. The album tracks panorama as readily as it zooms in, creating omni-dimensional environments that unnerve and prepossess simultaneously. On the surface it projects a challenging shadow, but the resolute pace lures more than it repels.

Like Gas’ best material, Delay’s soundscapes transpire organically, with tones of North Sea forests sifting from loam to canopy. “Viimeinen,” the only vignette of the LP, brings Visa to a close amidst the dim light of winter, straining patiently amongst oscillating poplar groves.

Delay’s recent hangup with the TSA highlights a cultural degeneration spilling from our illiberal regime. It forecasts a despotic reality, but the work more acutely elucidates the potency of reactive art and its voice against the absurdities posing threat to a creative global culture. Close the borders and face the wall of sound.

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Vladislav Delay, Susa Ripatti, Luomo, Gas, Chain Reaction, Mille Plateau

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