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Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
Halcyon Digest
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Fat Possum
DJ Vadim
The Sound Catcher

Rating: 6.6/10 ?

April 3, 2007
Where you been, DJ Vadim? According to allmusic.com, the UK-based/Russian-born producer's last original release was U.S.S.R.: The Art of Listening, way back in 2002. Then in 2005 there was the hyped but eventually underwhelming One Self collabo' with MCs Yarah Bravo and Blu Rm 13. Needless to say, the time is ripe for something new and, more importantly, something worth talking about.

Enter The Sound Catcher, a 17-song beacon of stylish musicality. Although it's nothing groundbreaking, it is a pretty good album, filled with distinct subgenre sounds and just as many contributing guest vocalists.

In many ways Vadim's BBE debut reminds me of Thievery Corporation; the hybrid cosmopolitan electronic sound is drawn from the same pools of influence - reggae/dub/dancehall, hip-hop, and electronic - and Vadim's blend is similarly sophisticated and bouncy, as likely to be in the background at a swanky sushi bar as it is to be featured in a DJs mix at the local club. Unlike Thievery Corporation, though, Vadim's work seems led by his contributing subjects and not the other way around. In some ways this is a negative feature, and tracks become so devoted to the MC that progressing stylistic choices are too blatantly tailored. An example can be heard during "Fear Feats," a Manchester dubby, rap cut, when Vadim crafts formulaic offbeat guitar/organ chicks, wringing timbale/snare hits, and horn licks. This is OK, but when the track halts and slips into dancehall/reggaeton mode for either Emo or Syrus to spit over, the segment ends up feeling contrived and any weight the track may have built up is lost.

Vadim is most dangerous when he sticks to his guns and creates reggae-influenced hip-hop, and when the DJ is on it doesn't matter who is rhyming over the top. "Kill Kill Kill" sticks to that formula with a Gorillaz-type bass line, an in-and-out hip-hop beat, and subtle programming brilliance (eerie fading shrill guitar notes, sporadic sampled beeps, and cabasa rubs). It doesn't hurt that guest MC Big Red knows how to fill the gaps of the funky and easy-flowing backdrop.

Another great feature within The Sound Catcher is the instrumental, especially the first half to "Theme To Big Willy Dee." If Vadim had made an entire album in this shape, his stock would soar and his guest contributors would probably be of a higher caliber. The crescendoing mix grows with '70s funky clavinet digibass sound, oscillating keyboard tone, and dual choirs - one of children another of shaky male voices.

But alas, the entire album is not as consistent and the low moments bring down the excellence of the strong singles. While certainly not a throwaway album, with the ability that U.S.S.R. seemed to suggest so long ago, The Sound Catcher is not where I imagined DJ Vadim would be. Enjoy "Kill Kill Kill," "Theme To Big Willy Dee," and others with similar energy and creativity; skip "Fear Feats," "Black is the Night," and some of the less original aural debris.

Reviewed by Josh Zanger
Joshua Ian Zanger, a native of rural Chicago, rocks many a world with his writing, style, and generally sweet aroma.

See other reviews by Josh Zanger



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