The most productive moniker of Finnish electronic musician Sasu Ripatti, Vladislav Delay constructs fractured soundscapes that evoke the vast, barren Arctic tundra, yet often radiate a warmth inspired by dub reggae.
While Ripatti has produced more DJ-friendly techno and house under names such as Uusitalo, Sistol, and especially Luomo, his work as Vladislav Delay generally consists of lengthy, semi-improvised mutations of dub, ambient, glitch, noise, and avant-jazz. First appearing during the late 1990s with several limited singles and EPs, he received much acclaim for challenging yet rewarding full-lengths like Multila (2000) and Anima (2001). Additionally, he reached a wider audience with the more accessible Vocalcity, his 2000 debut as Luomo, which was subsequently hailed as one of the best electronic albums of the decade. Continuing to issue solo work under several aliases, Ripatti collaborated with his wife, Antye Greie-Fuchs, as AGF/Delay, and as part of the Dolls with composer Craig Armstrong. He also played percussion in the Moritz von Oswald Trio as well as his own improvisational unit, Vladislav Delay Quartet. Following the 2014 full-length Visa, Ripatti spent much of the remainder of the decade composing film and television soundtracks, additionally collaborating with Norwegian jazz musicians Nils Petter Molvær and Eivind Aarset, and Jamaican rhythm section Sly & Robbie. He returned to solo work with the harsh, unforgiving Rakka in 2020.
A percussionist first and foremost, Ripatti was trained as a jazz drummer, and additionally became fascinated with dub reggae, grindcore, and Afro-beat, among other styles. Combining these varying approaches to rhythm, he began producing experimental electronic music during the mid-'90s. A brief live recording under the name Bright People was the first release on Ripatti's Huume label in 1996, and 1997's The Kind of Blue EP, also captured live, inaugurated the Vladislav Delay moniker. In 1999, Phthalo issued a self-titled CD of knotty minimal techno credited to Sistol, and Kemikoski, a little-known LP of bubbly ambient dub, was released under the name Conoco by Sigma Editions in 1999. The same label also issued Vladislav Delay's first album, Ele, which consisted of three lengthy, minimalist improvisations. A more beat-driven EP, Helsinki/Suomi, appeared on Thomas Brinkmann's Max Ernst label, and Huone was issued by Basic Channel offshoot Chain Reaction. Huone and the early-2000 EP Ranta were combined as the full-length Multila, which became one of Delay's most praised works. Also in 2000, the year Ripatti moved to Berlin, Mille Plateaux released the album Entain, which included different versions of material that previously appeared on Ele, and Force Tracks issued Luomo's Vocalcity, a club-friendly album that offered a soulful alternative to the clicks 'n' cuts style prevalent at the time. Vapaa Muurari Live, Ripatti's first release as Uusitalo, explored elements of his releases as both Delay and Luomo.
In 2001, Mille Plateaux released Vladislav Delay's Anima, a single hour-long piece recorded with minimal overdubs and post-production. Naima, a live performance of material from Anima with spoken narration by Antye Greie-Fuchs (AGF), was issued by Staubgold in 2002. Following the second Luomo album, 2003's The Present Lover, Ripatti relaunched his Huume imprint and released an album of dub abstractions titled Demo(n) Tracks in 2004. He and Greie-Fuchs issued Explode as AGF/Delay, and collaborated with composer/pianist Craig Armstrong as the Dolls, producing a self-titled 2005 full-length. Delay's The Four Quarters, containing four tracks averaging 15 minutes each, also appeared that year. While remaining active as Luomo and Uusitalo, Ripatti released the Vladislav Delay album Whistleblower in 2007, and Semantica Records issued remixes of final track "Recovery IDea" by artists such as Andy Stott and Mike Huckaby. A second AGF/Delay album, Symptoms, was released by BPitch Control in 2009, after the pair had a daughter together and relocated to Finland. Ripatti began playing percussion in Moritz von Oswald Trio, with the debut Vertical Ascent appearing on Honest Jon's that year. Delay's Tummaa, featuring Armstrong and bass clarinetist/soprano saxophonist Lucio Capece, was released by Leaf, and a collaborative single with Italian techno duo Drama Society closed out the decade.
Ripatti revisited his Sistol project in 2010, with Remasters & Remakes (the 1999 debut along with a disc of remixes) plus second album On the Bright Side both appearing on Halo Cyan Records. A self-titled effort by Vladislav Delay Quartet, featuring Capece, Derek Shirley, and Pan Sonic's Mika Vainio, was released by Honest Jon's, while Ripatti remained active as a member of Moritz von Oswald Trio through 2013's Blue single, subsequently replaced by Afro-beat legend Tony Allen. Delay released the Latoma EP on dub techno label Echocord in 2011, and issued the full-length Vantaa on Raster-Noton, remaining with the label for 2012's Espoo EP and Kuopio album. In 2013, the artist formed the eponymous Ripatti label and released a series of singles influenced by Chicago footwork, including solo releases as well as collaborations with Max Loderbauer (as Heisenberg) and Teeth. Visa, a full-length return to the dubby, abstract Vladislav Delay sound, appeared in 2014.
Ripatti then went silent, taking down his online presence and refraining from live performances. He sold most of his hardware equipment and continued making computer-based music, isolated in the Arctic wilderness. He composed soundtracks to the films QEDA and Borg McEnroe, both released in 2017, and scored the first series of the Finnish-German crime drama Arctic Circle, which premiered at the end of 2018. Nordub, a collaboration with pioneering reggae duo Sly & Robbie as well as trumpeter Nils Petter Molvær and guitarist Eivind Aarset, was released by Okeh the same year. Ripatti reunited with Sly & Robbie and produced 500-Push-Up, a warped dub album that was issued by Sub Rosa in 2020. It was preceded by Rakka, an intense, punishing Delay solo effort, which came out on Cosmo Rhythmatic. ~ Paul Simpson, Rovi