Sonny ‘Skrillex‘ Moore is a lot of things. Until this point, he’s essentially been the nu-metal of dance music – noisy, aggressive and somewhat defined by a questionable fashion choice. He’s the reason there’s a million and one unnecessary dubstep remixes of songs on YouTube that never needed a drop. He’s also one of the singularly biggest phenomena to emerge from the digital age of music, and his decision to ‘do a Beyoncé‘ (the title of which the act of dropping an album with no promo will now be known forevermore) with his first full-length Recess only further implements the idea that he’s some of 21st century e-hero (or villain, depending on your opinion of his raucous dubstep formula).
Recess is not, however, a relentless drop-a-thon with the intention to ride the wave of the genre Moore brought to prosperity. Sure, the album’s opener features all the audacious markings of the dubstep phenom’s prior material – growling bass and pitch-shifted, nonsensical vocals – but as its tongue-in-cheek title suggests (‘All Is Fair In Love And Brostep’), there’s more than an inkling of self-awareness interweaved within its infrastructure.
For once the initial bro-daciousness simmers away, Recess plunges into a melting pot of conflicting genre conventions that spark interest far beyond any of his previous work. ‘Coast Is Clear’ marries the erratic tendencies of freeform jazz with a drum & bass flavoured groove and the ever enthusiastic yelping of Chance The Rapper, whilst the Diplo-assisted trap banger ‘Dirty Vibe’ features ballsy back-and-forth rap verses from K-pop ringleaders G-Dragon and CL. It’s not always exciting – the dry minimalism of ‘F**k That’ provokes a reaction akin to its name – but for the most part its diversity succeeds in creating a multi-pronged electronic experience that’s as engaging as it is eccentric.
Recess is not by any means a definitive debut album, but it was never required to be – his EPs were more than sufficient in serving up an introduction. Instead, it’s a vivid display of his production palette that, whilst largely inconsistent, proves he’s got the chops to be more than the poster boy for meme music.