(Big Beat / Atlantic Records) First released as a download from Beatport on December 24, 2011, widely released on all other digital sites on December 27th, and with a physical drop date set for January 24, 2012 Bangarang -- the fourth and latest EP from Skrillex -- has been introduced to the world as a spitting firework of a release. Fitting to be launched over the threshold of a new year, it's explosive and sounds like the measure of a moment of time.
The Grammy Award-nominated Skrillex tends to split listeners. He's a newcomer who had been around for quite sometime in a previous post-hardcore incarnation as lead singer in From First to Last. He's a Dubstup aficionado who doesn't always regard the rules of genre. He's a Bigbeat specialist who doesn't always treat rhythms as the genre police would expect. He's credibly recognized yet sometimes throws his credentials a curve ball. He's one of the most notoriously experimental names in electronica, yet he is fast to commercial success and to establishment of sound. He's bound to have those who disapprove; he is also destined to receive the adoration of fans who like their tunes club-banged into bewildered dimensions.
Aside from anything, the Bangarang EP stands as a flash-bang of ambition. With a host of contributing artists -- Sirah, The Doors, Wolfgang Gartner, 12th Planet, Kill the Noise, and Ellie Goulding -- appearing across the eight tracks, the diversity is stunning. There's a generosity of spirit from all involved; The Doors, appearing on “Breakn' A Sweat,” was recorded as part of the Re:Generation Music Project -- a movie that married musicians through the ages with contemporary DJs. The track -- for all of its surprises, atmosphere, beat, and lifted vocal commentary -- still sounds exactly as you'd expect if The Doors had ridden the snake into the future to the point where production techniques and the Collective Unconsciousness were ready to receive the message. Hooks are strong, beats are big, and the beauty of the track unfolds like a potentially stormy ocean.
Production across the EP is all Skrillex. Regardless of genre and regardless of what he's handling, the man just brings the best out of sounds. Until you hear it, you'd consider terms like 'cubism' somewhat pretentious when discussing music, but what he achieves with deconstruction, reconstruction, treatment, and fill-ins is other-worldly. Ignore what you expect to hear or what you're told is acceptable, commercial, or credible; listen to the sounds and you'll see that music is nothing but a whole bunch of noise assembled in such a way that gravity can sometimes be ignored and space sometimes has additional dimensions. Phil Spector's Wall of Sound is the closest production reference you could make, but only if you'd smashed in the wall and rebuilt with mirrors, flame, liquids, and glitch.
Sonically, this is a massive EP. Volume begs and deserves to belong over every track, but this isn't a simple dose of bombastic floor-fillers. Ellie Goulding brings ethereal strains to “Summit” and proves that some mountains are both earthly and above the clouds. Her voice here is perhaps as cool as it has ever been. Closing track “Orchestral Suite By Varien” builds on the concept of air and height and feels like take-off. Fans of Skrillex will use tracks like this to illustrate the breadth of the man's vision; the detractors will level some kind of nonsense to do with lack of focus. The fact is that it's just this kind of track and the multi-palette approach that displays a larger truth.
As with the Re:Generation Music Project, the Bangarang EP underlines that music doesn't know its own color, a song has no sense of genre, and emotional content shouldn't be checked against categories, sub-categories, or codes of conduct. In that sense, Skrillex is a purely innovative artist. In the sense of what's hip, what's acceptable and expected, he may occasionally falter, but that's because he's paying attention to the tunes and not to the accessories and attachments. Add volume and await the Grammys.
Standout Tracks: "Bangarang," "Summit," "Breakn' A Sweat," "Orchestral Suite By Varien"
For Fans Of: Deadmau5, Steve Aoki, The Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method