by Sean Begin
Sonny Moore, better known by his alias Skrillex, grabbed the attention of American pop culture in 2010 when he released his YouTube-sampled “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” EP. With songs more reminiscent of angrily arguing Transformers than traditional instrumental music, Moore succeeded in helping take dance music mainstream.
Now, after six years of singles, remixes and extended plays, Moore has released his first full-length effort with “Recess,” an 11 song LP that nods to both the style that made him popular and the influences his music has seen since his ascension.
The opening track, “All is Fair in Love and Brostep,” is a tongue-in-cheek acknowledgment from Moore to the subgenre of dubstep attached to his style that has nearly become cliché since. The song features the Ragga Twins, pioneers in the United Kingdom’s early 1990s jungle and drum and bass scene.
The Ragga Twins are also featured on “Ragga Bomb,” the reggae-influenced drum and bass track that feels pulled out of the 90s and touched up with Moore’s unique style. Moore delves into the genre further with the jazzed up just-in-time-for-summer tune “Coast is Clear,” featuring up-and-coming hip hop act Chance The Rapper, whose bubbly crooning seems fit for driving with the windows down.
What seems to make “Recess” shine is the way Moore blends his unique style of growling robots and gigantic bass drops, while adding elements and entire songs showcasing his branching abilities as a producer.
Songs like “Fire Away” and “Stranger” are reminiscent of Moore’s work on 2013’s “Leaving” EP that was released only to members of The Nest, the subscription service for Moore’s Owsla label.
Moore has always been about weird sounds, though, and they shine through in “Doompy Poomp,” which sounds like the theme song to an Oompa Loompa-run carnival on acid. And “Dirty Vibe,” which serves as a first taste of Moore’s work with Diplo as the group Jack-U (who debuted in Miami at Ultra this year) is a blend of styles: techno and hardstyle with a dash of K-pop in the form of featured artists G-Dragon and CL.
The tracks that fit the mold that made Moore such a huge star, however, have been scaled back from the usual exploding bass drops favored in his early work for more subtle, but still intensely powerful, sonic shifts.
Moore works with Owsla signee, Alvin Risk, to make “Try It Out,” which is actually a mix of a bootleg tune titled “Imma Try It Out” that surfaced as early as 2011 and was featured in the 2012 video game Call of Duty: Black Ops II. “Try It Out” features the ragged growls and laser sounds so familiar to Moore’s work.
Working with another Owsla artist, Kill the Noise, the title track to the album fits perfectly with the backing sounds of kids screaming and playing, and comes packed with a bass drop that sucks all sound in favor of hyped up chords. “Ease My Mind” may be the album’s fiercest song, building slowly with sampled female vocals and breaking smoothly into an upbeat laser-filled drop.
A full length release from Moore has been a long time coming, especially after mainstream success and his winning multiple Grammy awards in the past two years. “Recess” is a spectacular blend of both Moore’s pioneering style and the influences that have shaped him as an artist thus far.