Music Review: Skrillex - Bangarang EP
While thinking about dubstep's rise in popularity, it's difficult to not draw parallels between that genre of electronic music and big beat electronica. Big beat saw its genesis in early '90s U.K., and gradually rose in popularity. By 1997, it had exploded in popularity in America, where acts like The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers saw amazing success for their heavy breakbeats. Sadly, as the decade ended, people grew tired of big beat's formulaic music, and it faded away.
Dubstep is similar in its genesis, but after it came to the U.S., American producers started recording their own dubstep. This subgenre focuses less on sub-bass and more on middle ranges, and is colloquially referred to as "brostep."
At the forefront of this subgenre is Sonny Moore, better known by his producing name Skrillex. In the past two years, he's released four EPs. He's also working on a full-length album due out later this year.
There has been talk of Skrillex's music beginning to stagnate in quality, but that isn't the case. The fast beats, frequent drops, and energetic hooks readily lend themselves to be danced to. With his Bangarang EP, Skrillex has produced his most musically diverse series of recordings to date, and the result is a record that's both more danceable and listenable than his prior EPs.
While the EP is only seven songs and a half an hour long, some songs are clearly better than others. Two highlights are the titular "Bangarang" and "Right On Time," a collaboration with bands 12th Planet and Kill the Noise. "Bangarang" is a high-energy dance track featuring Skrillex's trademark cut-up synths and vocals from Sirah, who wisely keeps her input to a minimum. "Right On Time" deftly combines house and dubstep into a fun club song with stuttery synths and a shifting tempo.
While there are only a couple missteps on the EP, they're big enough to nearly derail the flow of the record. "Breakn' a Sweat" is a collaboration between Skrillex and The Doors, which samples the late Jim Morrison. The end result is less than the sum of its parts. It's not satisfying as a Skrillex track, and as a Doors track, Morrison is most likely rolling in his grave right now.
The other prominent failure is "Kyoto," featuring Sirah. The track is a bass-heavy rap-rock track with an irrelevant verse from Sirah. Even Linkin Park moved on from their rap-rock days.
Whereas big beat electronica faded from popularity soon after it gained a foothold in the U.S., dubstep has only gained more traction. With his Bangarang EP, Skrillex tries blending dubstep with house, happy hardcore and rap-rock. While the end result is mixed, it does give me hope for his Voltage LP due to come out later this year.
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