2021 repress on turquoise blue vinyl, gatefold jacket
"Ethically, culturally and most important, musically, Bassnectar is a welcome alternative to mainstream EDM, and his new self-released Vava Voom, the ninth full album amid a flurry of EPs and singles in a prolific career dating back to 2001, is an impressive example of a talented visionary drawing connections to the genre's past while breaking ground for the future. There is much more to this guy than the spleen-rattling bottom end so beloved of many of his peers and hinted at in his own stage name.
From his hazy roots at Burning Man, San Francisco-based Lorin Ashton has become one of the biggest stars in EDM, a touring juggernaut who has made enough money from ticket sales to dedicated "Bassheads" to donate a quarter of a million dollars to charities supporting public education and Net neutrality, on top of traveling with his own state-of-the-art sound system and compassionate security team to assure fans the best experience possible (though the only time he's [made an issue of the latter](http://www.wbez.org/blog/jim-derogatis/2012-03-28/critical-congress-security-headliner-brings-his-own-97696) was during a recent return to the troubled Congress Theater). But his biggest strengths are a wicked sense of humor and a wide-ranging and inventive sonic palette unequaled in this field since the devilish Richard D. James, coupled with a flair for dramatic dynamics and killer riffs and melodies that underscore his earliest musical days as a stone cold metalhead.
If on first listen the 11 tracks on Vava Voom sound so diverse that you're tempted to think they're the work of different artists--flirting with dub, garage, hip-hop and punk amid the pounding rhythms and gurgling electronics--the ebb and flow of the album begin to make much more sense as you live with it, allowing Ashton to take you on a thrilling rollercoaster ride. From the pulsating, high-energy peaks of "Ping Pong," "Ugly," the Blade Runner punk of "Pennywise Tribute" (a reimagining of that band's "Bro Hymn") and the Lupe Fiasco-enhanced title track, to the beautiful, lulling, chill-out valleys of "Butterfly" (with gorgeous vocals by Mimi Page), "Nothing Has Been Broken" and "Laughter Crescendo" (a giddy and unforgettable new version of a track from 2005), this is a breakneck trip guaranteed to thrill even if you'd never be caught dead gyrating under the phosphorescent strobes.
1 Vava Voom 3:49
2 Empathy 4:20
4 Ugly 4:33
5 Ping Pong 4:32
9 What 4:54
7 Pennywise Tribute 4:35
6 Do It Like This 3:06
8 Laughter Crescendo [2012 Version] 5:51
3 Butterfly 4:18
10 Nothing Has Been Broken 5:48