On his alien-themed full-length debut Recess, prolific DJ and producer Skrillex (Sonny Moore), wants us to know that he’s privy to the criticism surrounding EDM.
Cheeky titles like “All Is Fair in Love and Brostep” acknowledge detractors who’ve had their fill of his scene’s boisterous, homogenous, dubstep-derived machoism and moved on to the next big thing. He’s responded with an eclectic lineup of contributors including both EDM greats like Diplo and out-of-genre picks like Chance the Rapper and Passion Pit’s Michael Angelakos. The result is a mostly unsurprising dance record with some interesting gimmicks that manage not to sound out of place.
The compilations couple with the expected Skrillex abrasiveness to assert that bass-in-your-face dance music still has growth potential and it’s here to stay. Unfortunately, Recess doesn’t deliver on that claim. Most of its tracks rely on the predictable buildup-drop-rinse-repeat formula that’s dominated EDM since Skrillex’s first EP in 2010. Even the more exploratory tracks, like the heady “Fire Away,” feel like noncommittal SBTRKT wanna-bes. Here, Moore’s sincerely interesting ideas are held back by plastic-sounding synth presets and unconvincing melodrama. It feels like the much-imitated producer is now the one following trends, but he isn’t quite ready to explore beyond what he knows.
Maybe Skrillex just enjoys superstardom too much to risk it all by committing to new sounds. It’s hard to blame someone in his position for that. Loyal followers will find plenty to enjoy in this decently produced trek through familiar territory, but if filling his late album-length release with derivative works means that Skrillex’s ideas remain anchored to what he and others have already done, he’ll make himself easy for most to forget into the future.
Favorite tracks: “Coast is Clear (Ft. Chance the Rapper)”, “Fuck That”, “Fire Away”
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