U.S.S.R. Repertoire (The Theory of Verticality)


The 2nd album from London-via-Leningrad expat beatmaker DJ Vadim starts out with a radio-dial-twisting montage of formative hip-hop influences, then spends another 25 tracks turning those influences inside out and pulling some unexpected serenity from them. The abstract hip-hop beats on U.S.S.R. Repertoire (The Theory Of Verticality) feel like hazy, trudging journeys through a place where all the action happens just beneath the surface, loops laced with ambient textural noise and the layered, manipulated reverb and distance of minimalist dub. At its deepest, Vadim’s low-BPM meditations play out like an East Coast version of screw fueled by DJ Premier and D.I.T.C. instead of Houston rap, the kind of mellowed-out hangover-nursing reduction of boom-bap that sounds reflectively hypnotic when it’s chill (“Headz Still Ain’t Ready”; “Mental Gymnastics”) and stupor-snappingly unnerving when it’s dark (“Aural Prostitution”; “Who the Hell Am I?”).

Nate Patrin