Food + Vladislav Delay, Union Chapel, 12th November 2009
Union Chapel is one of a handful of London’s holy buildings to have reinvented itself as a live music destination in recent years, with performances spanning jazz, electronica, avant-garde and experimental artists, acoustic shows and all kinds of music that requires people to shut up, stop fidgeting and LISTEN.
Tonight the chapel hosts Vladislav Delay, one of the many working names of Finnish electronic artist Sasu Ripatti, whose latest album Tummaa is out on The Leaf Label. Commonly described as a ‘clicks and cuts’ artist, Vladislav Delay is a more fluid, atmospheric exploration of that tag, where timbre and rhythm take precedence over melody and harmony.
Ripatti is accompanied by jazz musician Lucio Capece, who explores the unexpected sounds of soprano sax as well a couple of bespoke instruments. Avoiding jazzy phrases, Capece keeps his input minimal but engaging, making breathy percussive sounds using a drum mallet and violin bow which are then processed and warped by Ripatti, using drum pads and lashings of delay to create conflicting feelings of intimacy and distance.
Where Vladislav Delay is primarily an electronic music project, headliners Food take a more transparent, organic approach to their improvised tracks, combining astonishingly inventive percussion (largely played one-handed as drummer Thomas Strønen uses his free hand to add loops, layers and effects) with minimalist melodic lines from saxophonist Iain Bellamy, mutating with repetition and recalling experimental composers like Steve Reich and Terry Riley as much as free jazz.
Electronic music and jazz have obviously always been musical boundary-pushers, so it makes sense that the two should become acquainted through experimental artists like Vladislav Delay and Food. The relationship seems to be mutually beneficial too, with electronic music opening new horizons for jazz – which even in its freest, freakiest forms is still getting on a bit as a musical style – while jazz pushes electronic music away from dehumanised programmed rhythms and into more abstract and improvised territory, using real instruments played by real people.
Tonight’s show is like a sneak preview of future sounds, leaving us still and silent while our inner ears chatter with unthought thoughts and new beginnings.