Genre: Bass music
Label: Big Beat / OWSLA / Atlantic
After Skrillex’s popularity eclipsed the entirety of the electronic music scene, the star producer seemed to slip into the shadows. Yes, he released a Burial-esque EP along with the fact his explosive side project, Dog Blood, performed well within the dedicated electronic community, but neither achieved the crossover success Sonny Moore found with his main project. Regardless of popularity or sales, though, it was refreshing to hear Moore experiment with new styles as his shtick began to feel rather overdone throughout the majority of his third EP, Bangarang, and beyond.
When listening to Recess, the debut full-length from Skrillex, it becomes highly apparent the producer has spent his time away from the spotlight attempting to push the boundaries of his sounds. On the album opener, “All Is Fair in Love and Brostep,” the featuring of the Ragga Twins brings back painful memories to the “Burn Dem” days as one may very well expect typical Skrillex fare, but instead, the danceable atmosphere is shattered by an enormously aggressive drop with deathstep influences being lightly complimented by his signature synth-work. As the song drops during the second half, a voice fittingly asks “Guess who’s back, motherfucker?” as one of electronic music’s major players reasserts his rightful place within the scene.
Contrary to the tongue-in-cheek overconfidence of “All Is Fair,” though, Recess is not a venture into Skrillex creating the largest sounds possible. Rather, a major player throughout is minimalism as he ventures away from loaded drops and experiments with sounds that would come across as hollow when not properly concocted. On “Fuck That,” drum samples suited for house music in the vein of producers such as AC Slater are utilized for a ridiculously forward-thinking cut with bare-bones bass wobbles and tropical vibes around. At times like these, some of the sounds Skrillex creates don’t even sound as if they belong in this time period, but rather the distant future.
Even when working within the context of what’s popular in the electronic music scene in 2014, there is something intrinsically different about what Skrillex produces that is a step above the rest. This notion is amplified when he collaborates with another sought-after name, that being Diplo, on “Dirty Vibe.” If TNGHT started heavily venturing into the world of stimulants, this is similar to what one would assume they would begin creating. The piercing nature of the synths is very similar to that of Hudson Mohawke and Lunice’s collaborative project, but the energetic vibe of the track differentiates it as a completely different monster.
Another cut that makes sense in the context of the present is “Coast Is Clear,” a funky effort featuring Chicago’s rising star Chance The Rapper continuing to branch out into more and more eclectic territory by spitting and crooning over drum and bass instrumentals. It’s a testament to Skrillex’s talent as a producer that he’s able to bring out the best in one of the rap scene’s most exciting new players in a fashion unheard until now.
Being one of the most well-known and influential producers in the world, every Skrillex release holds a certain weight as artists sit back and wait to see what the leader of the community is crafting. With Recess, Skrillex has laid out the blueprint for the future of electronic dance music. Now, it’s time to see how the rest of the scene responds and evolves over the course of 2014 and beyond.
Reviewed by: Michael Giegerich (Follow him on Twitter)