Recording information: The Timberyard, East London.
Arranger: DJ Vadim.
Tours with everyone from Anthony B to Collie Buddz, plus work with the neo-reggae crew Fat Freddy's Drop, brought the genre-exploring producer DJ Vadim back to reggae, because when a Russian immigrant splits his superstar DJ downtime between London and New York, anything is possible. Possible, and maybe even more authentic as Dubcatcher, willingly or not, challenges Diplo and his Major Lazer project at its own electro-meets-rasta game, and the winner is the neo-reggae fan who gets to take home both bouncy, nutso dancehall (Major Lazer) and thick, persuasive vibes (Dubcatcher). Sweet horns introduce the smooth vocals of Demolition Man as "If Like Was a Thing" ("that money could buy/The rich would live while the poor would die") introduces a hypothetical sufferer's song that's, perhaps, not so hypothetical, while Governor Tiggy high-kicks his way through the light lovers rock and pseudo ska of "Sweet Like a Lolly," and suddenly, the 21st century has its very own "My Girl Lollipop." They don't have many garages down Jamaica way, but if they did, "Rise" with Rio Hemopo and Sabira Jade, is the kind of reggae-blues noise the JA White Stripes would make, then Governor Tiggy is back for the skeletal rave-up "Ring My Bell," a revival highlight bringing to mind the heyday of the early-'90s sound of Mad Cobra and Chaka Demus. Vadim's quirks always fit the music, and he doesn't bend the champion sound to the point of breaking, plus his slight interludes, intros, and outros help tie the album together and give the experience of dial spinning on an off-world reggae radio. Dubcatcher is a bit of a heavy title, as this one features singalong pop along with smoke-along drops, but it's an excellent album with plenty of appeal for both Vadim and reggae fans. ~ David Jeffries