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DJ Vadim – Don’t Be Scared

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Sorry “Daddy Vadim”, but I am scared. I’m scared that the Vadim I used to love is gone, and instead we’re left with a poor sound-a-like who now produces music which sounds like all the other shit dubstep/glitch hop out there in the year 2012.

That was my first thought on hearing this album. And although on subsequent listens I’ve softened my stance and have been able to tolerate if not completely like some of the tracks, I still feel as though this is a massive step in the wrong direction for someone who is, to my mind, one of the world’s greatest producers.

And it’s not that Don’t Be Scared is a terrible album, really. It’s not as if Vadim has done a Shadow and gone all Outsider on us (which still sucks to this day). As someone who normally doesn’t like glitch/dubstep/bass/whatever-the-fuck-people-call-it-to-seem-oh-so-fucking-cool-and-not-be-labelled-fans-of-Skrillex, the sound did get me nodding my head on occasion, and if anyone could have convinced me dubstep/glitch/whatever was worth listening to, it would be Vadim.

Vadim’s wicked production skills are evident over all the tracks, but especially Closed Eyes and the Bollywood sampling Bally Umar. Set them Free and Akura Uprising are pretty damn funky, and there are some house like tracks such as Take My Time and Van Vaow which are quite nice. Even the openly dubstep track This DJ with J-Man rapping about joints and dubstep has grown on me.

However, on the whole I wouldn’t say I like this album and the music on it. The biggest problem with the album is it doesn’t sound any better than anything else out there on the market. I love Yara Bravo’s sinfully sexy voice, but Leader it sounds more like an average Santigold track, not a good Vadim one. It’s not just this one track; the whole album feels like this. He’s failed to take the music anywhere I haven’t heard it being led to. Sampling Indian, African, Japanese and other Asian music and mashing it with modern western beats has been done elsewhere, and done significantly better. Dubstep has people like Scuba and Burial making music, and they’ve already done it as good as it’s going to get.

Maybe I’m being hard on this album. And yes, I get that this is Vadim’s eleventymillionth release, and that he’s constantly touring, and he’s probably bored of the same old shit, and wished to experiment on this one. And that’s great, all props to him, but then he should have gone all out and actually experimented with music and production methods, tried something completely new, rather than produce a middling dubstep/glitch/bass album which sounds like any bedroom producer could have made it.

And to be fair, I have to admit I have been listening to Don’t Be Afraid in conjunction with some of his early stuff released on Ninja Tune: tracks such as Your Revolution, Terrorist, Combustible, Aural Prostitution, and his stuff with Yara Bravo and Blu Rum 13 as One Self. And no one would debate not many producers can hold a candle to this stuff; however, it appears the Vadim of 2012 is one of those people.

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