Music review: A track by track guide to Skrillex’s ‘Recess’

After a surprisingly long and delayed wait, the most influential dance producer in America released his secret debut LP last Tuesday to incredible success and moderate appraisal. Originally premiering on an iOS/Android arcade game, Skrillex’s “Recess” features traditional dubstep, dancehall and big room styling mixed in with influences from all over the world that run the gamut of dance, hip-hop and pop.

Los Angeles native Sonny Moore began his musical career in post-hardcore band From First to Last at the age of 16, and eventually had to leave because of problems with his vocal chords. This led him into his solo career, eventually releasing his first official EP as Skrillex entitled “My Name Is Skrillex” in 2010. After an explosion of success from his second release, “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites,” he started touring and DJing all over the country, and eventually the world.

In mid-2011, Moore founded his own label, OWSLA Records, which has since helped launch the careers of superstar producers such as Alvin Risk, Kill the Noise, Zedd and countless others. On this new label he released his 2011 EP, “Bangarang,” and his 2013 EP, “Leaving.”

As of right now, “Recess” is the epitome of American electronic music, with too many contributions and production credits to accurately list in this article.

“All Is Fair In Love and Brostep” is a straight-up reggae/dubstep jam featuring the vocals of the Ragga Twins. This song was featured in the first hint of the album – an Instagram video posted in January by Moore, dancing in his studio while recording the mixdown for the master track, though the first version premiered on his BBC Radio 1 Essential Mix back in June. The song is bookmarked by strange sci-fi samples about rockets and space stations.

The title track of “Recess” is a collaboration between Skrillex and his protégé Kill the Noise. This starts with modified samples by Passion Pit singer Michael Angelakos with a chill drum back-beat to moombhaton pattern and cheering children under a ghostly trumpet herald. It then drops into a big room Martin Garrix-like chorus with gritty Fatman Scoop hype vocals yelling “Take it to the daylight / Everybody alright!”

The third track, a collaboration of Skrillex and KillaGraham, “Stranger,” starts with a hand drum and bell pattern over a deep sub-kick. This dark house tune has Sam Dew singing “I’ll forget your name if you become a stranger,” which echoes throughout the entirety of the song. Halfway through, it becomes dark and starts to sound like a scene from a thriller movie.

“Try It Out” debuted mid-October as a single by Skrillex, alongside the quiet and mysterious moombahton producer Alvin Risk. This party banger builds from a quiet repeating sample, “Imma try it out / Okay,” to a full champagne-spraying laser-blasting hype chorus. This quits halfway through to build up again to an even bigger drop, letting loose all the sub-bass lines and screaming synth shots one’s ears can handle. A version of this song has been floating around the internet for a couple years now, and even showed up in a mission in Call of Duty BlackOps 2, in which the player has to save hostages being shot at in a nightclub. Filling terrorists with Uzi bullets while listening to this song is probably the highlight of the game.

Skrillex, Chance The Rapper and The Social Experiment recorded “Coast Is Clear” live with The Isley Brothers to Skrillex’s premade beats. Between Chance’s soulful voice, the live analog synthesizer and the deep drums and piano, this song is something that cannot accurately be explained – just something to sit down and listen to.

To get the quickest and most danceable club-crushing beats, Skrillex recruited Mad Decent founder and Major Lazer frontman Diplo. Along with the vocals of South Korean superstars G-Dragon and CL, “Dirty Vibe” is a grimy K-Pop killer that begs to be remixed and replayed by DJs all over the world.

“Ragga Bomb” is another piece featuring the Ragga Twins. Though this one is not as sonically diverse as “All Is Fair,” but sounds like it was built from the ground up to be blasted at electronic music festivals such as Electric Forest and Ultra Miami. It transitions from a heavy screaming dubstep to a reggae-rap drum & bass pattern, which is a rare form for Skrillex, who tends to lean more toward dubstep and experimental electronica.

Speaking of experimental, “Doompy Poomp” was first found on the hidden part of Skrillex’s previous website. This deep glitch trip-hop song is filled with indecipherable lyrical samples, growling sub-bass, sleigh bells and cartoon spring noises. This is, without a doubt, one of his most experimental songs to date and has, unsurprisingly, received the most critical reception.

Another exciting hype tune, “Fuck That” is arguably the most unique song on the album. It is actually deep house, and sounds like it pulls influence from Destructo’s “Higher EP.” The mid-range wobbles that stay consistent throughout sound extremely similar to “Higher,” the title track of that release.

Technically a remix of a Niki & The Dove piece, “Ease My Mind” features the same chord progression, but drops into a “traditional” Skrillex-esque soaring dubstep lead, laser shots and all.

The final song, “Fire Away,” features singer-songwriter Kid Harpoon. This relaxing future garage song melds the voices of Moore and Kid Harpoon, begging the listener to “Take me with you when you go / Fire away / Fuck this place that we call home” – a relaxing end to the album.

His signature growling sound punches through on most of his songs, showing the influence of the SMOG raves hosted by 12th Planet, which consisted of the earliest American dubstep producers and DJs. Moore was engulfed in the revolution from the start. This “adventure in Dubstep,” according to SmogRecords.com, led to the discovery of the genre, and a change in electronic music as a whole.

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