When Porter Robinson stepped onto the scene in 2010 as an 18-years-young wunderkind, his productions were praised for their level of detail and their whimsical, bass-heavy tunes (an oxymoron that only makes sense in the context of dance music).
As demand for Robinson rapidly escalated, the young artist was exposed to a booming “EDM” scene, currently still in its pubescent stages. It continues to develop and sort out growing pains, and the resistance of those who see it as “counter-cultural,” despite its origins in Chicago in the early 1980s.
Consequently, his early productions turned quickly to money-making. bass-heavy electro-house and dubstep, with hints of teenage angst, though still maintained a remarkable level of artistic integrity and quality.
The release of “Language” marked the beginning of Robinsons defection from mainstream EDM, and brings us to today, and his debut artist album, Worlds.
The concept, while important for Robinson’s own progress, is not something new to EDM; Andrew Bayer and Mat Zo have both produced albums that serve as experimental counters to standard electronic productions.
It would be unfair to call this a truly innovative album in the grand scheme of things.
The album bears a distinct electro-pop identity (with hints of Japanese culture), that focuses on immersive atmospheres, layered vocals, sampling and orchestral structure, (admittedly, portions of it are reminiscent of an M83/Passion Pit hybrid).
The cohesion between tracks does bring hints of sensual fantasy and utopian society, with big choir vocals and memorable lyrics.
“Sad Machine” will most definitely draw mass singing from his crowds on his supporting Worlds Tour, “Divinity” is nothing short of ethereal, “Lionhearted” practically screams cries of youthful ambition and “Natural Light” is a slow burner with a glitched-out ambience. Every track provides a further glimpse into the world that Robinson has created for us to explore.
The album’s primary shortcoming comes from what should have been the its defining song, “Fellow Feeling.”
The initial grandeur and serenity would have been enough to seal the deal and show just how far Robinson has come, but the sudden drop in an ear-shattering bass distortion is shocking and unwelcome, at least for a single record. Who knows what would have happened had Robinson explored each side of this Jekyll-and-Hyde track independently.
Despite its arguably poppy influences and use of sounds that are not totally new, Porter Robinson should be applauded for a decent EDM album.
It serves as an example of his maturity as an artist and young man; the amount of emotion and forethought put into this collection of tracks is commendable and it’s a well timed career move that will keep him at the forefront of both mainstream and indie electronic fan bases.