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Bangarang
Skrillex Bangarang
Released 23 December 2011
Producer Skrillex
Label OWSLA, Big Beat, Atlantic
Length 30:08
Genre Electronic
Website www.skrillex.com
73

Skrillex – aka Sonny Moore – has only been performing under his electronic alter ego since late 2009, but already he’s been making an impact. Deadmau5 has signed him up to his newly formed Mau5trap label, and Skrillex walked away from the 2012 Grammy’s carrying three awards – including best electronic/dance album for his breakthrough EP Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. His latest EP (his fourth) treads similar genre defining territory.

Bangarang contains seven tracks, and clocks in at just thirty minutes in length, but also contains more variation and experimentation than some bands managed in their entire career. People who knock techno accuse the whole genre of sounding the same, but even the most hardened cynic couldn’t accuse any one track on this EP of sounding like any other. Its influences are clearly evident, but these define Skrillex’s sound rather than constrain it.

Just as he samples beats from countless sources in his musical collage, Skrillex proudly wears his influences on his sleeve. His foundation in rock/post-hardcore is clear from the huge variation of sound, and abundance of changes in tone and pace on each track. The songs alternate between frantic verses and slow, melodic choruses, while barely audible vocals fade in and out – stripped of their humanity by extreme distortion, they become just another instrument over which Skrillex maintains absolute control.

Elsewhere 'Right In' is layer upon layer of combined beats, overwhelming and oddly beautiful, with more than a nod to French duo Justice, while the sludgy, gargantuan assault of sound that is 'The Devils Den' would have fit perfectly on the Prodigy’s Invaders Must Die. Nothing would seem out of place on Bangarang. When Ellie Goulding adds her voice to the mix on 'Summit', it doesn’t even seem weird. Skrillex has an incredible skill to mould almost any sound from any source into his songs and make it work.

The real highlight of Bangarang is 'Breakin’ a Sweat' featuring none than than ex Doors men Ray Manzerak, John Densmore and Robby Krieger. Sampling a remixed version of the guitar riff from 'Break on Through (To the Other Side)' and a thirty second interview with Jim Morrison, this could easily be considered over-indulgent or ridiculous, but instead Skrillex’s trippy beats fit perfectly within his sampled blues rock template and forms a deranged fusion of genres. Morrison’s voice fades dreamily through the melodic confusion, as he envisions a future where, "one person with a lot of machines, tapes, electronic setups" could create an unimaginable new form of music. This bold statement of intent seems to sum up exactly what Skrillex is trying to do.

Skrillex mixes everything from light ‘80s synth to the ultra-heavy drone of what could only be an air raid siren played at high speed. He never makes the mistake of repeating a single beat for even a second too long, and the result is a collection of incredibly varied, richly layered and methodically composed tracks which sound impulsive and spontaneous by design.

- Bernard O’Rourke