Skrillex – Bangarang Skrillex – Bangarang

2011 was a great year for Skrillex. No only did the electronic producer receive 5 Grammy nominations (one for best new artist) but this 23 year old musician has won over the hearts and minds of a new generation as well as enraging the previous. Few musicians can claim the titles “highly revered” and “violently despised” in the same breathe. Skrillex’s work in dubstep is similar to the work of Spanish conquistadors — whereby a larger force invades a smaller yet flourishing civilization appropriating styles and exploiting aspects for commercial gain. Prepare yourself for the McDonalds on top of a Mayan temple.

All joking aside, the current work of Skrillex, along with other producers (Rusko, Liquid Stranger, Bassnectar) is just one popular evolution of a constantly evolving style. Dustep was a mid 00’s UK phenomenon which combined various electronic styles into a dark hybrid genre. The current evolution (often referred to as “Brostep” and also not really dubstep by design) has been criticized for transforming a once heady (and underground) genre hinged on texture and nuance into a one dimensional frat party fueled by Four Loko and chest bumps. From basements to arenas, Dubstep has come a long way and for good or ill, Skrillex’s mark on dubstep will be profound. Whether or not that mark will resemble a nuclear detonation is of course for the historians to decide.

Skrillex follows a string of short EPs with, once again, another EP. The Bangarang EP is 7 new songs with a rap album guest list. This scenic route to a full length is often optioned by electronic music artists who feel the need to dodge album responsibilities (Kavinsky, I’m looking at you). Well to be fair, it is not like anyone is really paying attention. One of Skrillex’s Grammy nominations was for the 2010 6 song / 3 remix EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. I doubt anyone at the Grammys even listens to music let alone the nominations. But what the fuck ever. This is a Skrillex album and for all intents and purposes, it does exactly what it is designed to do.

Skrillex continues his collegiate tradition of songcraft by writing a 2 minute section and having it repeat in a four minute song. The songs center around an unearthly bass drop along with mechanical sounds similar to Decepticons engaged in rough yet consensual anal sex. What is new on the Bangarang EP is a desire to expand with growing outside contributions — including spots from British electro indie folk star Ellie Goulding, Los Angeles based Sirah and members from a no name 60’s pop rock group The Doors. I honesty forgot what planet I lived on when seeing the title “Skrillex Featuring the Doors,” but when processed, I assumed it was a fucked up yet “fun as hell” world. When analyzed from a purely numerical standpoint, then the Bangarang EP maximizes accessibility and positions itself to be genetically superior to its predecessors. It is more varied than previous releases and expands its palette outside Skrillex’s conventions. There is of course discussion related to soul and spirit — but then again what is the point?

Skrillex gets a lot of shit from the dubstep community which is expected but not altogether deserving. Despite the ability to write songs which are as addictive as cocaine, the producer possess threads of artistic sprit. The surprising “Devils’ Den” breaks Skrillex’s structure by introducing a three part song progression with provocative grooves. I know this akin to applauding someone putting on pants in the morning but compared to previous releases it reads like Keats. “Right On Time” reunites Skrillex with 12th Planet and Kill the Noise whose collaboration can be heard — and felt — on Korn’s 2011 dubstep album Path Of Totality.”Right On Time” while never fully reaching a resolution forces Skrillex out of his comfort zone to make, dare I say, interesting work. Despite this, there are of course other songs.

The often publicized collaboration with Ellie Goulding closes the album and while still breaking tradition is one of the EP’s biggest failures. This is important as it highlights areas of flaw and ceonceptual weakness. “Summit” attempts to introduce elements which are diametrically opposed to the nature of Skrillex. Soft and delicate female vocals on layered electronic waves after superhuman rave anthems feels a bit silly. Tenderness and craft has never been this producer’s forte. Skrillex’s inherent lack of delicacy and subtlety is evident as “Summit” attempts to swoon in the way a drunk walrus initiates foreplay. While this could be chalked up to a minor defeat, it illuminates a critical error in the ability for progression.

But what the fuck ever. This is a Skrillex album and for all intents and purposes, it does exactly what it is designed to do. Bangarang, as well as Skrillex’s style as a whole, works because it is based on expectation. The songs are centered around the expectation of tension and release. Much like trance, drum and bass and hardcore techno, the relationship works because people want it, expect it and know exactly when it happens. Bangarang works in the same way cupcakes do for a well balanced dinner. Sure both sate hunger for the time being and at its core they resemble the concept of food. Further than that is all a matter of aesthetics and how much of a stomachache you are willing to well — stomach.



Skrillex - Bangarang, reviewed by Kaptain Carbon on 2012-01-04T09:27:24-08:00 rating 2.5 out of 5

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