Vava Voom is a filthy creative continuation of Bassnectar’s evolving career. Having made his name crafting hip-hop-esque simple beats with feint wobbles and eclectic samples on albums like Beatfreak Bohemia and Motions of Mutation, Bassnectar rose to fame as the dirty, long-haired monster bouncing on stage and has continued to release sick tracks. His last album Divergent Spectrum was one of his best yet with the hit remix of Ellie Goulding’s “Lights;” It also contained heavy hitters like his remix of Gogol Bordello’s “Immigraniada” and the gritty smash “Upside Down” — an even doper remix by Terravita in the remix pack released weeks after.
Now the bass god (no, not Lil’ B) has graced us with another dose of heavy, satisfying sub-bass on the new album. The title track, “Vava Voom,” features Lupe Fiasco rapping and is a fresh and resounding hip-hop beat similar to the beat from “Beamer Benz or Bently.” It makes you want to lean with it, rock with it, do the laffy taffy, get low or whatever ridiculous dance with which you get down to addictive hip-hop beats.
The following track, “Empathy,” is similar to “Lights” with its lingering bass and emphasis on counts one and three. Droning female voices accent the bass with their high pitches while bright synths strangely illuminate the track, a real headbanger.
Next, on “Ugly” featuring Amp Live you get a very typical Bassnectar sound with a scratchy bass alternating with snare-filled build-ups. Bassnectar flows seamlessly between dubstep and drum and bass on this track, giving you both the headbanging pleasure of dubstep and the crazy speed of drum and bass — the switch up gives the track character.
The crowning jewel of the album — for all you true bassheads out there — I’m talking about “What,” featuring Jantsen. A glitchy intro introduces an escalating snare that drops with no mercy. Crushing, whining bass combined with a syncopated rhythm makes this track the most exciting. It’s bouncy, with a Jamaican hype man talking in the breakdowns — a face-melting drop just around the bend. This is definitely a late night crowd pleaser.
Other standouts include “Do it Like This” featuring Ill Gates. It seamlessly uses silence — with a notable lack of booming signature bass — and offers a refreshing respite to not hear. It has some strange ticking sounds and brief electro grinds that compliment the steady beat.
Incorporating audio from actual ping-pong rallies, “Ping Pong” is the last noteworthy song to mention. It is insanely creative how he sampled the sounds of the ping-pong balls hitting rackets and tables and fused them into the track. From even just a sound engineering standpoint, this one is definitely worth a listen.
Some of the final songs on the album don’t particularly stand out and were muted, slow and not in line with Bassnectar’s energetic style. The album ends with “Chronological Outtakes,” which consists of a series of short bits of rock and dubstep songs and various sound effects, like people talking and lips smacking.
Bassnectar’s career has followed an upward trajectory, and with this new album and his non-stop touring, I only see it continuing.
The first time I saw Bassnectar was at Coachella 2010. Hair down to his back, draped over his face, Bassnectar looked like a little furry man onstage; with his head constantly banging to his own music, he bounced about the whole set, maintaining high energy while dropping some insane tracks.
Just this spring break, I saw him perform at Ultra Music Festival in Miami. He only played for an hour but he brought the ruckus and had a sea of people moving in unison to his entrancing bassy tracks. Confetti rained and the lights strobed, moving wildly when he dropped the beat. I then looked up to see fireworks in the sky and felt euphoric dancing with thousands of sweaty dub-heads.
I have never been let down by a Bassnectar show, and Vava Voom is no different. The album gets it so right on certain tracks and falls short on others. Yet it is the dirty brilliance of the tracks discussed that makes this album a standout success.