After a seemingly endless period of teases and delays, the almighty Prince of Dubstep Sonny Moore AKA Skrillex finally unleashed his brand new collection of bangers to the masses last week. The Bangarang EP (currently on sale on Beatport, iTunes and other digital retailers) reinforces the fact that Sonny is not content with just being one of the premier EDM producers in the world – the 7-track offering pushes his trademark sound to a whole other level. Each song is it’s own beast, varying in style all while maintaining the distinctive feel one associates with Sonny’s output.
Opener “Right In”, is a huge dubstep banger that is the EP’s most traditional “Skrillex” track – with the high-pitched vocal samples and growling bassline, the drop lyrics of “It’s another one” can be taken in a literal sense. However, the top notch production and attention to detail result in a finished product that is anything but ordinary, and if this is Skrillex’s norm, other dubstep producers need to step up their game to avoid being left in the dust.
The title track, featuring vocalist Sirah, is presented in the upbeat moombah-core form Sonny has been flirting with ever since his “Reptile’s Theme” track for the Mortal Kombat soundtrack. Complete with nostalgic shoutouts to the Lost Boys (apparently Skrilly is a fan of Hook), “Bangarang” is a fun romp that is right at home with any of the 110BPM core-tracks produced by tourmate Dillon Francis, one of the pioneers of the moombah movement.
Skrillex. The Doors. These two musical acts would usually never (ever) be mentioned in the same sentence, but due to both acts’ participation in the 2012 documentary Re:Generation – they have collaborated on a track. The result, “Break’n a Sweat” combines The Doors’ guitar flourishes with Skrillex’s trademark wobbles and the result is a funky romp that highlights the mainstream potential of dubstep and EDM in general.
Subsequent tracks on the EP feature Sonny teaming up with far more customary partners in crime – Wolfgang Gartner, Kill the Noise, and 12th Planet. While Skrillex is already adept at making top notch electro-house tracks (see “Rock and Roll” and “Kill Everybody” from Scary Monsters), Wolfgang has proven he is the producer to beat in that genre. It’s no surprise that their collaboration is one of the best songs on the release – a perfect blend of both artist’s styles. The track has many interesting flourishes that separate it from the pack, including cacophonous yet melodic laser-esque pulses as we are welcomed to the “Devil’s Den”. The most notable of these, however, comes mid-song – after a trademark electro breakdown, the tempo slows and Skrillex takes over the track as “Devil” drops into a heavy dubstep section.
Given their close relationships with Sonny, seeing 12th Planet and Kill the Noise on the “Featured” list in the Bangarang tracklisting was no surprise. Their resulting track, “Right on Time”, is just that – surprising. All three artists are known for their “heavier” style, so many were taken aback when their collaboration was be painted with a ravey, dutch-house influence. After a few listens, however, it has become one of my favorites on the release, and is constantly lodged in the deep recesses of my brain. The kicker comes when the track changes tempo and drops into a KOAN Sound-esque break-beat, and it’s refreshing to see all three producers come together and work on something outside of their usual norms.
The last two tracks on the EP are ones that Skrillex has been rinsing in some form or another at his live shows over the past couple of months, but Bangarang presents them in all their finished, mastered glory. “Kyoto” is the finished version of the drumstep track that surfaced on the interweb many months ago that many were dubbing the original “Ruffneck”. The final version is significantly altered, but maintains the core elements that made it one of my most anticipated unreleased Skrillex tracks. When Sirah says “drop it hard”, Skrill more than obliges.
The last track on the EP had also surfaced at live shows, dubbed “Breathe”. The track has a much softer, chilled-out vibe than one would usually expect from Skrillex, and is in the vein of “With Your Friends (Long Drive)” from his Scary Monsters EP. His ability to subvert expectations and experiment in new styles is what makes him one of the best producers out there, because the result of these ventures are usually his best. “Summit” is, as of now, my favorite track on Bangarang. With vocals from Sonny himself and pop-queen Ellie Goulding, it is a perfect come-down from the uptempo tracks that precede it, and the impeccable production make it a must-listen with proper headphones.
With a wide assortment of styles and collaborators, Bangarang represents an evolution of Skrillex’s style that pays off in spades, and will likely lead to even more mainstream exposure and popularity. As good as 2011 was for Sonny, if he continues to progress like this, 2012 will be an even greater beast.