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Vladislav Delay - Rakka II Music Album Reviews

Vladislav Delay - Rakka II Music Album Reviews
On his second album inspired by journeys in the Arctic wilderness, Finnish electronic musician Sasu Ripatti makes even the most hostile environment feel homey.

Sasu Ripatti knows that few things will humble you like time spent in the wilderness. “You learn to face your own limits and fears,” he’s said of his Arctic hiking experiences. His latest solo albums as Vladislav Delay take inspiration from these trips, the kind where you’re confronted with terrifying, awe-inducing grandeur. The title of the pair of LPs, Rakka, refers to the rocky terrain he traverses outside his home in Finland. The covers depict these spaces as spectacles in their own right, with pink and green smears that recall Christo & Jeanne-Claude’s gargantuan land art. And the music is some of the most outrightly turbulent of his decades-long career. But despite the rapturous sonics, Ripatti is doing what he’s always done best: crafting detailed soundscapes that make you feel small, forever at the mercy of his intricate productions.

Recorded during the same sessions as Rakka, Rakka II aims again to overwhelm with wind-tunnel drones, electrifying noise, industrial crunch—anything to get you bracing for dear life. Ripatti finalized the material for this second installment only recently, and he says that his time away from the music led to a more hopeful, optimistic album. Such positivity isn’t immediately audible: “Rakkn” drops you into whooshing sirens and mechanical whirring, opening the album in a state of panic. Stuttering beats creep ominously underneath, but then everything fizzles out, and all that’s left is vapor.

Much of Rakka II is about this process of diving headfirst into chaos and finding serenity therein. “Ranno” begins with sputtering static atop a constant kick drum, and its progression is decidedly linear—a stark contrast to the cacophonous start-stop rhythms of Rakka. As the track’s first half feels like anxious preparation for something larger, it transforms the same elements into blissful ambience, ending like one of the Field’s looping reveries. Even “Raaa,” responsible for the most whip-lashing structure here, has reason for its riotousness: Its sudden shifts provide for on-the-fly recalibration. After a mid-song passage of cool, airy drones, the return of a pounding beat reads more meditative than oppressive.

Beauty is the defining feature of this record. “Rakas,” which translates to “beloved,” is misty and thalassic, its synths tranquilizing in their intimacy, and “Rapaa,” with its high-pitched beeps and bristly drone, arrives like a tender massage rather than a relentless skull-battering. Ripatti’s vision of beauty is one of abundance, and Rakka II presents a never-ending flurry of sounds: Synth pads ebb and flow, beats erupt in scattershot patterns, and tracks are adorned with a bevy of atonal noises. While his early works, like Entain or Anima, may have felt like looking into a microscope to find countless squiggling organisms, Rakka II offers a more life-sized experience: It feels like Arctic winds are rushing straight at you, and these songs’ constant, surprising shifts make the immensity of it all feel invigorating.

Ripatti’s entire career has been built on ping-ponging between disorientation and close engagement: His dubbiest records are relaxing and richly textured, his footwork endeavors are always atmospheric, and his Rakka albums make hostile environments feel homey. Even “Raaha,” defined by its massive, lumbering beats, is supremely pretty: It’s rhythm distilled into its purest form, bearing the raw danceability of Esplendor Geométrico’s proto-industrial techno. “Raato,” which means “carcass,” sums up the album: it’s a power-ambient epic that quietly grows in intensity before dissolving into soft textures and stumbling drums. It’s moody, poignant, euphoric. One can imagine an expanse of Arctic tundra, of bones dotting craggy rock—a vision of death couched in acceptance. Rakka II suggests that severe conditions make you check your ego, and that doing so—while appreciating one’s single, fragile life—is a nourishing, wonderful thing.
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Vladislav Delay - Rakka II Music Album Reviews Vladislav Delay - Rakka II Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Tuesday, April 27, 2021 Rating: 5

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