Somnambule - Writing About Music

Vladislav Delay ~ The Four Quarters

Imagine floating on your back on a blue sea, buffeted gently by all manner of flotsam and jetsam. Driftwood gently taps your shoulders, plastic sauce bottles nudge your knees, polystyrene carton supports tickle your toes. Above you floats a tender sky that cycles through a spectrum from deepest azure to iridescent purple.  Alternatively, picture yourself peeling the foil from a thousand CDs, feeding it through a shredder, reapplying a section to a plastic CD base and playing back the result. You’re listening to The Four Quarters. Each of Vladislav Delay’s four lengthy pieces (the shortest clocks in at 14 minutes), categorically refuses to cohere into a recognisable structure for more than a few moments. Sonic elements surface and submerge at will: clicks come and go, repetitive sections loop for seemingly random durations and, just as the mind identifies an emerging pattern, it’s washed away on an ebbtide of cottonwool. The result is akin to eavesdropping upon entropy, experiencing the second law of thermodynamics in sound. It’s an uncomfortable, queasy sensation reminiscent of examining a close-up image and experiencing a sense of recognition, while failing to identify what exactly the object is. The listener is challenged to create sense from forms that appear to be obdurately irrational. Dub is an almost exhausted term, particularly when applied to the vast majority of post-80s, non-Jamaican music, yet Vladislav Delay’s output is a very rare candidate for such a description. There’s something of King Tubby’s questing creativity in Vladislav Delay’s seemingly tireless blurring of form. Twisted so far out of shape, these four lengthy pieces of music float free from their moorings and drift entirely out of sight of known territory. 

Colin Buttimer
January 2006
Published by Signal To Noise magazine