In many ways, Jim Rivers' Airport Vultures is a prototypical artist album by an electronic dance music artist-DJ. The debut album release showcases multiple sides of its creator (who also produces music under the Suelo name), encompassing as it does the full spectrum of styles associated with house and techno music and doing so in a rather overlong package (in this case seventy-four minutes). Tracks are plentiful in number (thirteen in total), production quality is high, and the sequencing is carefully considered. Six years on from his 2006 debut single Restore (Saw Recordings) and with no shortage of chunky synths, skipping drum machine beats, and wiry bass lines spilling out of Rivers' home studio, Airport Vultures makes for a strong addition to Carl Cox's Intec imprint.
The strings-laced overture “Miles Away” gently eases the listener into Rivers' refined universe of rich electronic sounds and dance rhythms. Artist albums by dance music producers often begin with an intro and Airport Vultures is no exception. We turn to the second cut, “Pheonix” [sic], then, in order to derive a clearer sense of the style of both the producer and the album, and what we find is a predictably polished sampling of vibrant acid-house, maximal in design and verging on trance-like in its uplifting spirit (much like the also-blissful “Nearly There”). Drenched in creamy synths and claps, the track offers a good example of Rivers' hard-grooving style, but as good as it is, it's bettered by “We Can Do This All Night,” a sexy and slinky acid-house raver that Rivers cranks up repeatedly and lets swing mightily. Funky, too, are the slow-builder “Sleepless in Detroit” and jacking title track, which come at the listener in cresting waves and are two of the album's most potent house tracks.
Dub production touches—echo and reverb, specifically—seep into “On the Line,” but it's the bass lines that kick in after the drop-outs that turn the tune into one of the album's funkiest and most club-ready; a seductive stream of piano chords, claps, and hi-hats also deepens the cut's impact and heightens its allure. Rivers sometimes includes a vocal as ornamentation, often nothing more complicated than a chant of the track's title (e.g., “Your Love Uhh”), as a way of enhancing the material with an extra layer of stimulation. Sultry synth atmospherics and an enticing vocal line find “When I Needed You” taking a page out of Superpitcher's book in one of the album's most appealing settings.
His tracks are more slick than raw, but slick needn't mean bloodless or antiseptic, and the album includes only one misfire: the closer “Bells,” a more jazz fusion-styled number that overshadows an appealing piano part with too-busy acoustic drum playing. Rivers also boldly titles one of the tracks “Product,” but he needn't worry about anyone calling him on it: Airport Vultures might be many things, but product it assuredly ain't.