VVV: Across The Sea
Fortified Audio

Imagine a less dour Burial doing an update of Luomo's Vocalcity and you might end up with something close to VVV's Across The Sea. Garage, 2-step, soul, and house come together in this strong full-length debut collection of soulful bass music from Shawhin Izaddoost, who was born in Tehran, Iran but raised in Austin, Texas. Though he cites influences as disparate as Arvo Pärt, Karlheinz Stockhausen, Sun Ra, and Burial, it's the latter's presence that's most evident on the recording. There's nothing criminal about that, necessarily—everyone's influenced by someone and VVV's twelve tracks offer a refreshingly upbeat spin on the Hyperdub artist's style. A good number of the cuts also suggest VVV's got just as much in common with Sepalcure as he does Burial.

In this consistently strong collection, Izaddoost rolls out one head-spinner after another. The opener “Jade Mountain” modernizes a seemingly ancient Asian theme by pairing it with a lithe bass pulse, crisp beat, and soulful vocal inflections, with all of it settling into a hypnotic hybrid of funk, house, and dubstep. The even headier “Aisle Seat” and “Dolven” draw upon garage, house, and 2-step in their radiant swirls of soulful singing and infectious beat science, and trippy vocal-laced cuts such as “Retreated” and “Traverse” confirm that VVV's output isn't far removed from Sepalcure's seductive style. The Luomo-Burial connection mostly comes to the fore during the closing “All That We've Been Through” when an ecstatic vocal punches through the reverb to join a melancholy piano part and a signature Burial beat pattern. Elsewhere, the too-short “Stuck Between” elastically reshapes the VVV template with a wobbly groove that adds a nice contrast to the comparatively direct approach of the other tracks, while the synthesizer-heavy “Under Control” nudges the album into a more pronounced psychedelic zone. On all twelve tracks, Izaddoost's material is clean in design, with the producer establishing a clear separation between the irrepressible pop of the tunes' tight beat patterns and minimal flow of their funky bass lines. Across The Sea might not be a game-changer, but it's nevertheless a thoroughly credible addition to the bass music genre.

February 2012