Skrillex - Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites

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  • Skrillex is part of a wave of American producers coming into dubstep from other genres. More often than not, these beatmakers make a violent racket characterized by overwhelming midrange "wobble" basslines, and have a general obsession with gore, macabre and the almighty "filth." It's "mosh" music as opposed to dance music. Many of these producers take as much from drum & bass as they do more aggressive collectives like Caspa's Dub Police, lending their music a violent energy miles away from the garage and dub-inspired scenes in the UK. Skrillex is once more removed from this, coming from a hardcore screamo band, releasing on deadmau5's mau5trap label and splitting his EP down the middle with electro house and dubstep. His sound is overbearingly plain and simple. While he has a firm grasp on melody that eludes many of his peers, they're usually coated in headache-inducing layers of abrasive muck. The trancey hook of Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites' title track is equal to nails on a chalkboard, and the less said about its onomatopoeic bass growls the better. The same goes for "Scatta," where distorted midrange basslines pierce through the foundations: It's ugly, and all a little silly. When he goes in an electro house direction, the results vary from decent to terrible. "Rock N Roll" is like a 2010 update of Justice, blocks of melodic static sliding past hastily carved chunks of strings, synths and snaking guitar riffs. Admittedly it's hard not to get caught up in the rambunctious enthusiasm; even a track as profoundly stupid as "Kill Everybody" can break down the staunchest of snobs when its barbed wires morph into an anthemic rave laser show. But then it's followed by the nauseating bathos of "With Your Friends (Long Drive Home)," which sits on a plain-jane thump, and the vocal-led "All I Ask of You" only invokes memories of Alice Deejay's eurodance hit "Better Off Alone." All of this would be irrelevant if Skrillex weren't suddenly and formidably popular. In the first week of its release, all eight of the EP's tracks placed in the Beatport Top 10. This is a remarkable achievement for a relatively unknown name—the mau5-machine backing has its benefits—all the more so considering it comes from a nominally dubstep artist. If this means that the core Beatport user-base, as close to a mainstream as dance music gets, is going to finally acknowledge dubstep through an artist like Skrillex, I'm concerned. Its one-dimensional aggression and appeal to the lowest common denominator feels like the exact opposite of where the genre began; there's a difference between perversion and evolution. Dubstep is undergoing both processes at once, and the results couldn't be more far apart. I'm not surprised that this EP was number one on Beatport—it's fun and well-produced rave fare—but this music does a dangerous disservice if it's perceived as representative of "dubstep" to an audience that has never come upon it before.
  • Tracklist
      01. Rock N' Roll (Will Take You to the Mountain) 02. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites 03. Kill Everybody 04. All I Ask of You 05. Scatta 06. With You Friends (Long Drive) 07. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Noisia Remix) 08. Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites (Zedd Remix) 09. Kill Everybody (Bare Noize Remix)