Album Review: Skrillex’s ‘Bangarang’

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A funny photo meme has been making the rounds lately: Skrillex — a young, aggressively genre-blending electronica producer nominated for five Grammys including best new artist — notes on his Facebook page that his favorite song is Aphex Twin’s melancholy piano suite “Flim.” Beneath the posted video, fans complained relentlessly about the song’s lack of a massive bass drop, a Skrillex trademark. It’s evidence of the formulaic expectations he’s created for his own fans. For an artist as restless as Skrillex, that must seem like a taunt.

“Bangarang” is Skrillex’s small first step to remedy the disconnect between his wide tastes (he’s collaborated with artists such as Korn and Kaskade) and his singular, manic sound. As Sonny Moore, Skrillex cut his chops singing in a metalcore scene in which technical proficiency and violent, jerking song structures are prized.

He doesn’t stray too far from those values here, but the quick cuts that defined his early EPs are more skillful and sonically intriguing: “Breakn’ a Sweat” ambles from light Latin jazz percussion to grinding sub-bass, including cameos from the Doors and a sampled, irony-free monologue about how electronics will change music. “Right on Time” smashes Chicago juke, orthodox house beats and jittery dubstep into one dance-shrapnel explosion. “Summit,” with vocals by rising British singer Ellie Goulding, licks the frosting off of arena trance and ends up a surprisingly delicate almost-ballad. It’s the most accessible point on “Bangarang,” and a welcome turn toward nuance for a producer that had seemed bent on destroying such.




(Big Beat/ Atlantic)

Two and a half stars (out of four)


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--August Brown