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Balkans contemporary culture guide

Vladislav Delay – Rakka

Dark ambience is a generally underground genre due to its coarse and calloused sound that only appeals to a handful of connoisseurs. Electronic harsh elements and samples further assist the genre in distancing itself from what is conventionally pleasing to the ear, however this same element adds atmosphere that evokes a visual scape rather than a feeling in the listener. Cultivating grim and sinister vibes makes the music a lot more occasional than all-encompassing, frequently fitting a narrative purpose like functioning as a soundscape in a film, or serving as the background music of a video game. Thus, having this in mind, Vladislav Delay’s Rakka delivers a 7-track consistency of a radio transmission flooded trip to purgatory in hopes of escaping the test of psychological mettle to soon return to conventional electronica with a newfound hypervigilant approach when absorbing all of their layered musical elements in harmony.

The prelude and introductory track Rakka, serving as the title of the album itself, introduces a Blade Runner-esque build-up of fast paced hyperspace synthetic effects. Denoting the simulation around you which is slowly generating and calibrating to be a pseudo-synthesis of the reality you know and love (where the album cover comes into play with its unconventional hue of a body of water), the track uses electronically vague recreations of miscellaneous sounds in a 16-bit bad-signal fashion. Furthermore, the title itself when translated from Finnish means “a craggy outcrop of rock on the summit of a hill”, which adds to the visual scape the album art already imprints in the headspace of the listener. All of this is generated, and it is not the real world. Having this in mind, Raajat introduces sounds reminiscent of a brain fry system, i.e. the pounding 16-bit jackhammer in the back of your mind, as if a new world with altered laws of physics is being generated before you, while you are being commissioned and trained for it. The pounding occasionally becomes rhythmical, albeit the general driving force being counterpoint. A harmonious arpeggio with muddled sharpness preexists in both songs, which serves as the theme of the album. At 3:56 there is a break, and then the storm continues like the ominous bombillating sounds of a fever dream, with the theme becomes more choir-based and angelic, although it is hardly noticeable. The fine pink glare of the mountainous lake gives way to black ink leaking from the metamorphic rock around it in an inverted color portrayal of blood travelling through veins.

Rakkine differs from the previous two songs in that the bass is very eminent, coupled with the structured approach in delivering the ambience. This one insights more action, while the scrambled radio voices showering the bass trance thumps confuse the listener. The background maintains the same theme, albeit more ominous and uncertain, with helicopter-like strobe sounds heard in the background. Is the simulation trying to be breached through scrambled external signals? The unripe fruit that is Raakile (which is the definition of the word) presents something new: a calm purgatory with a rolling bass and offcut strings, brass drones, and atmospheric echoes. With the song is shorter than the rest, it feels like an intermittent dream rather than decommission chamber in action, and provides the listener with the only serenity one can expect from the simulation. Might it be an unripe fruit in the inverted world that the album is trying to synthesize in front of the listener that it is the only track with a focus on etherealness?

The following three tracks: Rampa, Raataja, and Rasite effectively employ the same methods and themes of the tracks preceding Raakile, albeit with a more rhythmic structure but harsher gabber and distorted elements. More so, even drum and bass elements appear throughout the scape, which possibly imply an homage to foundational electronic sounds within the techno scene as eclectic as it is. Whether it is a heavy concept album (the motif of alliteration corroborating this theory), a soundscape with a precise purpose, or an ambient piece to stimulate the acquired taste of noise-electronica, the latter part of this album is rather repetitive. Due to the nature of noise, not much can be variated on an overarching theme past the main introductory elements, lest it becomes a pastiche of postmodernism. Perhaps, this was the intention – for the translation of the final track’s name is “encumberance”, doing justice the weight the album imposes upon you after a feint period of time. It might just be that the listener is being reprogrammed and conscripted against their will, effectively becoming a slave of the music, which if escaped constitutes a refined taste for said listener. The best way to describe Vladislav Delay’s album is: transitional, yet stagnant – an effort to escape this intertextual oxymoron is beyond me.