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Vladislav Delay - Demo(n) Tracks

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Artist: Vladislav Delay

Album: Demo(n) Tracks

Label: Huume Recordings

Review date: May. 18, 2004

Demo(n) Tracks is a long, segmented piece that bundles dub textures into ambient and often sprawling arrangements. It is less vital, all told, than the deep house heartbeats of Vlad Delay back on Chain Reaction; the songs gratify less, expend more energy exploring. Except for a few choice moments, Delay wanders all over, glutting dislocated beats with dislocated noises and offering little in the way of resolution. There is personality of sound, but not of song.

Delay now produces on a post-post-post-Kingston plane, where Pole 1-2-3 is reactionary, and facsimiles of representations of interpretations of dub’s cues mark progress. In this fire sale of convention, rhythm is first and cheapest on the block. (Arguable as to whether it actually incurred the most damage.) Delay rejects both dub/techno rhythms and static, sound-as-furniture atmosphere outright, opting for an abstruse midpoint where irregular beats surface sporadically. The noises are sometimes referential, the rhythms are not.

Demo(n) Tracks’ tendency not to index or induce makes for a demanding listen. Absent the choice to dance or sleep, what is most inviting is to concentrate on textures, lush and strange, without becoming mired in context. "onttola" might include crowd noise, ambulance siren samples and a skipping CD. Earlier, "otan osaa" has a low drone under echoing notes and dub fragments played in considerable moderation. Confrontational tones are the point, just rich enough to be heard and re-heard without exhausting fascination, despite clashing against expectations and the sounds around them.

Dreamscapes like "ontolla" (and "lokakuu") superficially resemble quotidian ambience. Certain layers repeat serene themes, but other clamoring layers turn over completely every few seconds. (Including the occasional uprooted syllable of a vocal sample.) The palette of noise is detailed and shifting, but, on the other hand, a narrative is lacking. Nor is there any apparent compositional or improvisational tack. Frustration engendered by rambling wants satisfaction, should one make the mistake of listening for song structure, only to nibble at crumbs.

Innovation moves slowly, usually, and an attempt at unnatural acceleration is apt to feel forced. That is the case with Demo(n) Tracks, which may or may not represent the future of dub, but in any case skips over the present completely. After a bunch of releases that emulated the basic conventions of dub – plugging available moments with feedback, saturating the spectrum with creative rhythm – Delay strains to do something so different that his program becomes unrecognizable and sort of humorless.

By Ben Tausig

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