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Skrillex - Topic

Bangarang Play

Nominated for five Grammy Awards, shortlisted for the prestigious BBC Sound of 2012 poll, and courted by everyone from Chicago producer Kaskade to metal icons Korn, former From First to Last frontman Sonny Moore's transition from post-hardcore vocalist to dubstep producer couldn't have realistically gone any smoother. However, despite his unprecedented success, there's still a question as to whether he can apply his now trademark, demonic, wobble bass drops and thumping syncopated beats to a whole album. Named after the battle cry of the lost boys in Steven Spielberg's Hook, his fourth consecutive EP Bangarang (also his first Top 40 entry in both the U.K. and U.S.) suggests he'll have to be on his game on the forthcoming full-length Voltage if he's to avoid an Emperor's New Clothes scenario. While the bombastic Wall of Sound displayed on 2010's Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites initially provided a unique take on the U.K. dubstep genre, Skrillex's lack of progression means there's a distinct sense of déjà vu among its seven tracks, particularly on the relentless, scattershot bleeps, chopped-up vocal hooks, and repetitive loops of opener "Right In" and the rap-metal fusion of "Kyoto." Even when he does think outside the box -- as on "Right on Time," a percussive, hard house collaboration with 12th Planet and Kill the Noise which eventually builds into a feverish slice of happy hardcore, and "The Devil's Den," a chaotic hook-up with Wolfgang Gartner which takes in everything from old-school rave to ska to techno -- the results are more headache-inducing than thrilling. There are a few more encouraging signs, such as the Doors-featuring "Breakin' a Sweat," which combines proggy guitar hooks, psychedelic organ chords, and Jim Morrison samples with a snarling, Prodigy-esque vocal and a filthy slab of dub bass to produce one of the year's most unexpectedly successful partnerships, and the multi-layered trance of closer "Summit," given an ethereal sheen thanks to Ellie Goulding's lilting tones, both of which suggest Skrillex should utilize his melodic leanings more often. But overall, Bangarang is a disappointingly formulaic affair which hints for the first time that the wheels may soon slowly begin to fall off. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi

Scary Monsters & Nice Sprites Play

Previously the frontman for L.A. post-hardcore outfit From First to Last, Sonny Moore continues to develop his unforeseen dubstep tendencies with the second EP under his Skrillex alias, Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites. This surprising electro reinvention still throws a few bones to his previous metalhead crowd, with the virtually demonic basslines of "Scatta," a blisteringly dirty 140-bpm anthem featuring the suitably breakneck-speed MC skills of U.K. grime collective Foreign Beggars, and the sinister lyrics of the Daft Punk-esque robotic rave of "Kill EVERYBODY" ("I want to kill everybody in the world") just as unsettling as anything the two albums recorded with his former band had to offer. But perhaps inspired by the move to Deadmau5's Mau5trap label, its nine tracks present a more chilled-out, melodic, and even playful side to the eclectic producer. "With You, Friends" (an ambient reworking of the closing track to his My Name Is Skrillex EP) is a slow-burning epic that displays his penchant for chopped-up vocal samples amidst some lilting piano chords, swirling proggy electro riffs, and hypnotic house beats; "All I Ask of You" echoes the lush techno of his new boss, with its warm layered synths, ethereal vocals (courtesy of Penny), and Euro-trance hooks; while even the heavier moments are interspersed with lighter touches, such as the ingenious sample of YouTube sensation speedstackinggirl ("Yes! Oh My Gosh") on the towering beats and distorted bass of the title track and the Space Invaders-style bleeps, helium vocals, and stadium rock handclaps on the chaotic electro-clash of "Rock n' Roll (Will Take You to the Mountain)." The three remixes from Noisia, Bare Noize, and Zedd are solid if unspectacular, with only the latter's chilled-out version of the title track providing anything wildly different from the originals. But the invention showcased on the first six bass-heavy anthems is more than enough to suggest that the U.S. has found someone who is capable of selling the dubstep sound back to its South London homeland. ~ Jon O'Brien, Rovi
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