UK Hip Hop: International
DJ Vadim The Art Of Listening Ninja Tune [Ninja Tune]
DJ Vadim - The Art Of Listening LP
Ninja Tune
DJ Vadim is a man who has his fingers in many pots and this is probably the reason why his fans have had to fiend for this record, his second LP, for a while. Well people can rest assured not that USSR - The Art Of Listening was worth the wait and is now upon us. Laced with 15 tracks, all of which, except the Harp Song pt.2 feature guest vocalists. Although Vadim is on production duties throughout, the variety of guest MCs and lyricists give the record a certain vicissitude, however this is not unusual these days, as you will rarely find albums that don't have armfuls of guests. 

The track LP opens with a few words of advice cut up from a mad spoken record which alludes to the advantages of listening to music whilst under the influence of Weed and how it will change your attitude to listening to music. With a tuba and Kazoo backing. The opening track, which this intro moves into is Till Suns In Your Eye, which features Motion Man, who hailing from the Bay area immediately underpins the cosmopolitan nature of the collaborations. Motion Man does most of the vocals with Blu Rum 13 on the back ups. The track is mostly about the obese bassline, but the track has a experimental feel as the beat occasionally drops right out, when you would least expect it to. Vakill features on the next track Its On, which is to be one of the singles. Most of Vadim's music contains enough elements for several different tracks and this one is no different. Here you have wailing female vocals as well as a sitar sound and some sort of keys. Pulled together these separate elements make for a quite soulful track, if at times a little distracting from the vocals. She Who Is Tested which features semi spoken word vocals from Yarah Bravo, opens with a classic drum loop, which as the track progresses gets increasingly replayed / manipulated by Vadim, until in the end, the beat is completely different. Initially there is little instrumentation, but as the track progresses different elements are added into the mix, like a seemingly synthesised xylophone and sluggish bass and eventually a chello. Each track travels in a different vibe, so when Gift Of The Gab gets busy over the down tempo Combustible the change in pace come as no surprise. A simple acoustic bass and shakers are the musical accompaniment for Gift Of The Gab to edutain us over. Phi Life Cypher, Jazz Fudge signees, Vadim's own label, feature on Ghetto Rebels. A tasty track with a dancehall vibe to the big overloaded bassline, which is filled out with guitars and an almost inaudible, because of its frequency, high tone. Phi Life do exactly what you would expect them to, and that is rip up copious intelligent lyrics commenting on societal problems in their usual breathless double time flows. 

For Revelations Well Expounded Vadim enlists the amazing beatbox talents of Killa Kela who is out of this world as usual, and who is joined by Polish saxophonist Uzula Dudziak to give this a contemporary Jazz feel. The Harp Song Pt.2 continues the instrumental break with a delicately plucked Harp and occasional oboe, as well as the other usual instrumentation, a low bass and fat beat. Vadim provides organs and a tinny sounding snare for Yara Bravo to make her second appearance of the LP over. The Pacifist is a thoughtful track where she gives us more of her semi spoken / semi sung harmonious oral discharge on what it is like to fight for a cause. DJ Plus One joins Vadim for the shortest track on the album, In Control Vol. 3, a track with several distinctive sections to it over which some tight cuts are laid down, then, all too soon its done. Taa Fun Aiye sees Ade Soma and Gruff from the Super Furry Animals get together for a relaxing, but non-stand out track, featuring Ade's characteristic African tribal chants, tabla, an unidentified stringed instrument and percussion, as well as an Eric Sermon sounding bass line. This lengthy offing is followed by another change in style and sees the second featuring of Demolition Man and Vadim's effort to move things in a more dancehall vibe with Demolition Man chatting up a storm in Jamacian DJ stylee. The beat is particularly ploddy and it is only the funk bass and Demolition Man that save Who Me from being fast forwarded every time.

Some of the best moments of the LP are saved for near the end, and this is the case for the Something To Feel track that features one of the hottest UK crews of the moment, Task Force, who are once again teamed up with Mr Thing. The production is rocking with a sitar sample and although the beat pattern isn't too exciting, the musical backing simply provides a canvas for Chester and Farma to shine on. I could have sworn that I had heard this track before, but can't think where, maybe it was just a pre-release recording, but it does seem familiar. Another top joint, although I didn't catch the lyrics due to TTC spitting in French is L'Art D'Ecouter, a down tempo throbber making use of orchestral and off key vocal samples as well as a fading in and out of the backing for effect and ends with 30 seconds or so of one of the most chilled out outros I have heard. The penultimate tune is That Which Is Coming featuring Revd Clevie Brown, a soul singer who is a new name to me, but who none the less gets down on this old fashioned live and acoustic sounding track. Finally the LP closes with the Edie Birkell track which features Slug who lets us all in on his views on why certain rappers try to get into making music, when perhaps it is often the case that many are sub standard. The track is another tasty, if non-energy inducing chiller for which the verses are filled out with folk type guitars and added to with a brass section for the choruses. Top sampling again from Vadim.

Overall, this is a well rounded LP from a man who has travelled far and wide and has therefore has diverse musical tastes and therefore can transcend genres in his output and should by default appeal to a wider cross section of the potential record buying public. As an extra bonus, and fortunately a feature that is becoming increasingly common, the CD also includes a copy of the Its On video directed by Sam Arthur, a sweet, but also dark animation of anonymous rabbits wearing masks shooting each other with lyrical bullets and beating each other down with baseball bats. Well strange. As a different touch the CDs liner folds right out to form a larger poster of the artwork, but do you want to put it on the wall, or keep it in the case? Tough choice, maybe you'll have to buy two copies. Make sure you pick up at least one anyway.

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