Vladislav Delay: The Four Quarters

Following the alienating if fascinating brutalism of Demo(n)tracks, The Four Quarters resurrects the eminently more listenable style Vladislav Delay (aka Luomo) explored (some might say perfected) on Multila and Entain. With each of the new album's pieces about a quarter-hour in length, Delay allows himself ample room to explore and maneuver. “The First Quarter” presents a sparser sound compared to what we've heard from him in the past. The piece unfurls slowly, exuding a subtle hint of warmth and soul that's filtered through Delay's idiosyncratic sensibility. A lurching, metallic drum pulse surfaces intermittently as synths and voices swim within the dubby mix. Though held together by the most minimal of bass elements, the largely unmetered “The Second Quarter” slows the pace even further, moving from an extended intro of interlaced textures and then verging in subsequent moments on expiration altogether as instruments drop away.

While The Four Quarters does clearly reference Delay's earlier style, there are differences: it's less dense, for one thing, plus it's looser, with Delay nurturing an improv, organic feel throughout. Predictably, the music possesses little of the buoyant jubilance of his Luomo recordings, instead opting for immersive, lugubrious atmospheres. More critically, it's also considerably less dynamic than Multila and Entain. The Four Quarters collectively hews to a singular, placid mood and curdling tempo and evidences little of the dramatic development and propulsion that distinguishes Multila's “Huone,” for example. One might have expected the new album's second half to lift the album to a more aggressive level—especially given the entropic character of the second section—but that hardly happens, Delay apparently content to let the music meditatively drift much as it does during “The First Quarter.” When an insistent bass pulse rouses the music during the album's last five minutes, the gesture arrives too late to make a major difference.

October 2005