Porter Robinson’s highly anticipated debut album Worlds finally dropped Tuesday, August 12. As many dedicated, impatient fans know, the album debuted more than a week early through NPR.
Whether you were waiting for the actual drop date or simply haven’t gotten around to listening yet, it should be known that Worlds is a huge departure for the electro-house DJ/producer. Let’s step-back a little to discuss Porter Robinson’s work preceding the album, just to emphasize how big of a turn this is for both the artist and fans.
Prior to Worlds, fans predominantly associated Robinson with his 2011 EP Spitfire, featuring popular banger “Unison,” which gained momentum after Knife Party’s heavy remix of the track. His songs consisted of aggressive, in-your-face, “complextro” melodies popularized by mentor Skrillex. However, his Beatport #1 single “Language“ (2012) marked a shift in creativity. While still maintaining an anthemic style that festival-goers could dance to, the song received high acclaim for its euphoric and more emotional textures. As quoted from a Rolling Stone article covering the single in April of 2012, Robinson stated that he felt that, “There’s so much spine-chilling, goosebumps-inducing music out there and it’s barely getting heard in the United States. I want my music to not only be exciting, but also sentimental. “Language” was my attempt to achieve that.”
Fast-forward to 2014. Porter Robinson unexpectedly releases his epic, angelic Sea of Voices, briefly crashing SoundCloud. That’s right, he crashed SoundCloud due to the overwhelming response of his fans rushing to listen to the larger-than-life, dramatic track that features a beautiful blend of organs, pads, bells, and layering synths. He even earned himself a trending topic during the Oscars. You get the point, right? Porter Robinson was evolving, but in a direction many may have not expected. Surprisingly, though, this evolution was met with positive reactions.
“It’s not an album that concerns itself with reality,” he shared with Billboard this past June. “’It’s about escapism and fantasy. It’s meant to evoke worlds you experience in literature and games and movies.” For those who know Robinson’s personality, this linking of music and video games is a natural choice for the artist, being that his love for dance music started with the introduction of Dance Dance Revolution as a kid.
Surely enough, Worlds solidifies his fascination for Japanese culture and anime, soundtracks of early Nintendo games, and creating music that goes beyond the function of providing something to dance to. Sad Machine, for example, features a duet between him and the English Vocaloid synthesized voice of AVANNA. Nerdy move? Maybe so, but this captivating sound has paid off for the producer, who has received millions of SoundCloud listens and high praise for the track.
Taking a journey through the musical – or rather, mystical – world of Porter Robinson reveals an album sculpted to reflect a wide range of emotions and colors. Stepping away from the EDM scene of DJ sets and party-favorites, Porter Robinson has completely transformed his sound into what some may even argue as electro-pop, judging by his list of guest artists including Imaginary Cities, Breanne Duren, and Amy Milan to name a few.
“Flicker,” the album’s fourth single, goes full-force with the producer’s interest in exotic sounds and robotic Japanese vocals. Genre-defying “Fellow Feeling” imitates an illustration of videogame landscape, or perhaps even a fantastical, Lord of the Rings-related film score, with its distinct orchestral introduction that quickly takes a 180 midway through with heavy, glitchy thrashes. “Years of War“ and “Polygon Dust“ seem to embody the idea that Robinson’s tunes are more electro-pop than his traditional ‘complextro,’ though that’s a general statement to make for the entire album per se.
Maturing out of his hostile, high-energy “Spitfire“ days and shifting into a more sophisticated style, Porter Robinson has proven his mastery of production skills to the electronic music world – at only age 22.
Love what you’re listening to, Syracuse? Go check out Porter Robinson’s North American ‘Worlds’ tour this upcoming fall, which is making stops in Montreal (10/2), Toronto (10/3), Ottawa (10/4), Niagara Falls (10/5), and NYC (10/11.)