|Album Review: Porter Robinson – Worlds|
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New York, NY
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Porter Robinson has more recently found himself at the helm of the EDM ship, and fans across the globe have been itching for the release of his latest album Worlds since his release of his single, "Sea of Voices", at the beginning of the year. In collaboration with Astralwerks, the album is finally here, and it deserved all the hype it received and maybe even more.
Although, very distant to what the EDM community has come to accept as dance music, Robinson has managed to fuse recognizable dance elements into a sound that would better be deemed as electro-pop. The indie vocalists that are featured on a handful of these tracks add to the softer side of this album, while there are frequent nods to the gamer nerd within himself with each glitch and experimental sounding component. The young American producer has released an array of music here that is well beyond his years but that encapsulates an airy essence of youth that I believe most listeners will appreciate.
"Divinity" with vocalist Amy Millan makes a bold opening statement for the album. The track gently sways back and forth over the line of indie and electronic, while many of us may have expected a dance banger to kick this album off. Canadian vocalist, Millan, coos at us as Robinson takes us on a mighty voyage through the light and dark of this six-minute track.
"Sad Machine" turns down a different path as we listen to Robinson's vocals fight for the lead with his computerized vocals on this second track. Memories of my video gaming days are distinctly called back into the light as his electronic productions recall each aural memory. I find it interesting that Robinson has chosen to sing a love duet with a computer, but I tip my hat to him for doing so successfully.
I can't quite distinguish what activity I would recommend listening to this track to; either driving down the highway on a summer roadtrip, running to beat your own personal record, or for those awkard dance parties you have in you undies at home. Either way, this third track "Years of War" is good for all three of those. Breanne Duren from Owl City and Sean Caskey from Last Dinosaurs are featured vocally on this song alongside a hypnotizing synth and the still gentle electronic productions from Robinson.
"Flicker" prominently demonstrates Robinson's ability to handle many different genres in one track. The subtle Japanese sounding vocals accompany some upbeat guitar chords before diving into a progressive, and even at times dubstep, influenced melody. This track was released as the last single before the album dropped, and it put us all on edge with its vastly differing vibes.
Many of the songs on this album trudge into unexplored territory, but Robinson goes fearlessly. "Fresh Static Snow" revisits the robotic vocals concept as they sadly sing along to a mild melody, intermittently punctuated with an abrasive bass segment.
On the sixth track we hear Lemaitre, a rising indie-electronic duo from Norway that has been seeing their own handful of originals and remix packages, and now they've been added to Robinson's track "Polygon Dust". The vocals are fairly normal, in comparison to the earlier robotic vocals, but the entire track is far from normal overall. The productions offer a bit more intensity as the productions rise and fall; the synth and bass act as one entity rather than separate units on this song.
Canadian indie-pop duo, Imaginary Cities, has their moment on Robinson's album on the "Hear the Bells" track. The highly emotive sways of intensity speak right to the soul as Imaginary Cities belt out moving lyrics and the instrumentation pulls at each of the heart strings. Next up, you'll hear "Natural Light", where Robinson seems to take a break to recharge. The energy levels drop dramatically and the productions become more of a piece of abstract art than an anthem; with its glitches, bells, and irregular drum pattern.
"Lionhearted" with Urban Cone, was one of the singles released before the album, but it is refreshing to see how the track fits into the grand scheme of the whole album now. After a two and a half minute break with "Natural Light", we blast back off into "Lionhearted" where we get our first glimpse at the first entirely dance-able track off of Worlds.
"Sea of Voices" was the first track Robinson released off of the album, and all of the buzz began with this one fairly early in the year. Fans and EDM enthusiasts were blown away that Robinson would release such a chill and ambient track when so many of those fans wanted more festival worthy songs. The nearly five-minute track doesn't see any vocals until just after the three minute mark, where you're fully encompassed by the atmospheric synths and a lack of drums. This is one to be experienced, if you haven't done so yet.
"Fellow Feeling" starts off with an intricate orchestral stringed segment that screams classical before diving into a glitchy techno driven intermission that both intrigues and mildly confuses. Regardless, it is an impressive feat to incorporate so many contrasting elements into one song that is under six minutes long. The final track, fittingly titled "Goodbye To A World", revisits the saddened robotic vocals as Robinson soars from one end of the intensity spectrum to the next. One moment, the track is ripping apart the stitches on our broken hearts and the next, Robinson has us geared for some solid fist pumping. You're guaranteed to hear it all on this track, so push play and get to listening.
Although we see a handful of collaborations from diverse artists, Robinson maintains his integrity as he incorporates his peers into his music fluidly. He doesn't compromise the vision that he so clearly set out to make this album with, and it is exciting to see such a figurehead in the EDM world step outside of the well-defined box.
Many of you, including myself, were probably expecting an album full of festival worthy bangers. I was thoroughly surprised when I hit play, and track after track, I continued to hear something that was better suited for a different type of environment. Robinson has committed to the exploration of his musical expression and presented us with what he has created while on that journey.
Go on a trip through Robinson's new album as you join him on the a pilgrimage through Worlds.