DJ and producer Bassnectar has released over a dozen albums and EPs, but the recent surge in electronic dance music has led him to a few new ears. His wide range of influences have added up to albums that often sound quite different from each other, so whether you’re an old fan or a new recruit Vava Voom will likely expose you to new sounds and concepts.
While mostly an instrumental album, a few tracks include guest vocalists to help break things up. Lupe Fiasco does a good job gluing chiptune and wub-wub together with a bit of Houston Hip Hop on the title track, fitting in well with Bassnectar’s genre-blending style. West Coast cult duo Zion I join in on “Ugly,” a heavy, hectic track that sharply contrasts lighter choices like “Butterfly.” Most of the vocals are treated more like additional instruments than centerpieces of their respective songs, so while there’s no singular voice running through the album, there’s still a clear through-line due to Bassnectar’s distinct production.
The wide-range of influences on Vava Voom also goes a long way towards keeping the album fairly fresh throughout. Big, dominant dance tracks like “Empathy” are tempered with the more laid-back “Laughter Crescendo” and the humorous “Ping Pong,” avoiding the repetitive, unwelcoming nature that electronic albums can sometimes have.
Diverse but focused, Vava Voom is a solid example of what both Bassnectar and the electro genre are capable of. The dense tracks won’t necessarily transcend the usual lines to pull in those who wouldn’t normally care for the genre, but it’s a solid choice for those who’ve recently latched on to Skrillex or Deadmau5 and want to continue to branch out. Fans of the dumbed-down house music that litters today’s pop radio will probably find much of the album too complicated, but any other fan of electronic music would say that’s a good thing.