Saturday, 4 June 2011

Debut - Vladislav Delay Quartet

Useful album this – I played some of it to a cat that was in our garden the other day and it didn’t like it one bit (took on that startled look they get, then slinked away).
   A lot of ‘cats’ have been in quartets, vocal, even folk, but mostly Jazz – so when Mr Delay gets himself three other cats to play with, making four, perhaps it’s logical to call it his ‘quartet’. So you might look at the line-up: Vladislav Delay (drums and percussions), Mika Vainio (electronics), Lucio Capece (bass clarinet and soprano sax) and Derek Shirley (double bass) – and think ‘Perhaps they’ll be a bit Jazzy’. Then again, you note Vainio’s presence, and you think again. Mika does whip up a right racket here at times, especially on ‘Louhos’, and accompanied by Capece’s playing, it almost captures something of the spirit of Free Jazz (with Capece being more of an Evan Parker than Archie Shepp) – almost, yes, intentional or otherwise, it reaches the kind of crescendo Coltrane created in his later years in concert, although not even Vainio’s digital axe can match the righteous racket that He did.
   There’s a lot to like here; Shirley’s bass at the beginning of ‘Killing The Water Bed’, for instance, which I just played on my Windows library and YouTube, with a few seconds delay (pun not intended) – a great effect – it reminded me of Derek Bailey asking my DJ companion and I to play tracks at the same time when we accompanied him with some Drum & Bass on stage. We were too scared, thinking him crazy, but in retrospect I wish we had because only now that the poor soul’s dead do I see what he was hoping to achieve, a glorious racket of breaks and bass. Oh well. I think he might have approved of this album, it being very much in the spirit of electro-acoustic improvisation.
   The quieter tracks, ‘Des Abends’, ‘Santa Teresa’ and ‘Presentiment’ work particularly well. Delay’s not one for dominating, opting more for cymbal and brush than whacking skins, which might make him the Modernist’s Connie Kaye – or not. Or perhaps it’s just that whatever he does hit has been chopped and distorted to such a degree as to render many sounds radically mutated. In the spirit of Jazz, though, this is a democratic affair. ‘Hohtokivi’ is pretty much a Pan Sonic track, such is Vainio’s dominance. And that’s no bad thing.

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