In the midst of constant touring to an ever-growing audience, Lorin Ashton a.k.a. Bassnectar has managed to release another of his “omnitempo maximalist” records this April. Vava Voom, Bassnectar’s 9th full-length album delivers all of the appealing elements that have allowed this San Fransisco native to create a flourishing underground community unseen since the days of the Grateful Dead: low thumping bass, intense musical eclecticism and a positive message of community involvement. His latest album includes a slew of collaborators that share similar core values and musical diversity, not least of which is the Grammy nominated Lupe Fiasco, featured on the album’s self-titled single.
As is characteristic of Bassnectar, his album is all over the place. But in a good way.* Songs like “Vava Voom” and “Ugly” articulate a gut-thumping and danceable simplicity while “Pennywise Tribute” and the beginning of “Chronological Outtakes” give a feasible nod to Ashton’s punk and metal roots. “Do It Like This,” features ill Gates, and allows for the intensity of old school hip-hop while maintaining the optimism and textures of house and dub step. The result of this combination will make you want to move your limbs.
“Laughter Crescendo” and “Butterfly” offer a calmer approach more suitable to introspective contemplation rather than physical action. These sonic adventures come complete with (you guessed it) the soothing sounds of laughter and the soft yet effective therapeutic vocals of Mimi Page, allowing for a sense of relief after the brute intensity of the previous songs.
Listening to Bassnectar’s new release offers more than just a series of thoughtfully crafted songs; it is a glimpse into an enormous sub-culture centered on a thumping bass and an open and progressive (and perhaps altered) mind. With sold out venues exceeding 10,000-person capacity, and events like Bass Center and Bass Island, Bassnectar is modeling the future of grass-roots community building through the power of music on a large and effective scale. Vava Voom is a strange and interesting sonic glimpse into that cultural process.
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