It has been a long time coming, but 22-year old producer Porter Robinson has released his first studio album, Worlds.
While this is the first studio album by the talented American, it’s also the product of EDM exhaustion. The electronic music producer played close to every major music festival in 2011 and 2012, delivering well-crafted, crowd-pleasing bangers to the masses. The over-played arrangements of big room house and hard electro seemed to have taken its toll. Burned out and perhaps a little bored, Porter moved into his parents’ basement in Chapel Hill, N.C., where he played ’90s-era video games and prepared a pivot in his music style.
While most producers would continue to run with what they know, the downtime inspired a dramatic 12-song compilation that spans ambient, disco and electro-pop. Compulsory bass drops and dance-friendly rhythms are replaced with delicate chord progressions, deep and heartfelt lyrics and forceful synths. To be blunt, Porter has embraced old-school classical song writing to the fullest.
The opener “Divinity” featuring ethereal Canadian singer Amy Millan is a whirlwind of bustling and emotive electronic soundscape. Robinson’s decision to open Worlds with “Divinity” couldn’t be more perfect as it reinforces that face it’s not all about big, loud and mostly generic ‘EDM’ sounds.
“Sad Machine” highlights an almost Japanese vibe with the instrumentation, while “Years of War” and “Lionheart” are pure synth pop anthems that are sure to be played throughout music festivals this summer.
Worlds boasts a roster of collaborators with Breanne Duren and Sean Caskey on “Years of War”, Lemaitre on “Polygon Dust” and Imaginary Cities on “Hear the Bells” all adding their style while still allowing full artistic control from Porter.
“Flicker” is the standout track from the album as it perfectly blends the older style of Porter fans have grown to love, with the vibrant new direction he intends to head. The floating Japanese vocals nest over an ensemble of Nile Rodgers style guitars, thick pads, soaring chords and heavy punches thown in here and there.
The album can be quite lonely at times – similar to while(1<2) by deadmau5, but behind it there’s a producer who, at 22, is willing to take a chance to create something totally different from the what is currently flooding our music charts. The fact that he’s successful in doing so makes it all the more triumphant.
Worlds is an enjoyable album, but it may take some getting used-to. There’s something thrilling about listening to a record by a producer who conquered EDM in his early twenties and already feels like he needs to push boundaries.
- Divinity (feat. Amy Millan)
- Sad Machine
- Years of War (feat. Breanne Duren and Sean Caskey)
- Fresh Static Snow
- Polygon Dust (feat. Lemaitre)
- Hear the Bells (feat. Imaginary Cities)
- Natural Light
- Lionhearted (feat. Urban Cone)
- Sea Of Voices
- Fellow Feeling
- Goodbye To A World