Since 2009, Skrillex has been a prominent figure in the EDM scene, captivating fans of electronic music and beyond. Initially known as the lead singer of post-hardcore band From First to Last, 35-year-old American DJ and producer Sonny Moore embarked on his solo career, introducing himself to the world with the free downloadable EP “My Name Is Skrillex” in 2010. This landmark release kickstarted Skrillex’s iconic dubstep career, revolutionizing the music industry along with electronic music’s perception among listeners.
The same year, his “Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites” EP earned him two Grammy Awards, setting the stage for a fruitful career that ultimately amassed eight Grammys — the most of any electronic artist. Despite his archetypal presence, Skrillex has yet to release a solo album since his debut album in 2014.
Fortunately, to the excitement of electronic music fans everywhere, Skrillex broke his nine-year album hiatus with his new project, “Quest For Fire.” Skrillex’s long-awaited album “Quest For Fire” showcases the renowned electronic artist’s signature style and experimental forays with a lineup of impressive collaborators. Despite falling short in some areas with contrived and convoluted production, the album truly shines in moments where Skrillex’s beat drops sound crisp and satisfying, evoking an otherworldly and ethereal atmosphere that captivates listeners.
Skrillex’s return to the mainstream music scene was subtle but noticeable — a slow climb marked by his involvement in high-profile collaborations and remixes of popular hip-hop tracks alongside low-key single releases with up-and-coming bass-scene artists. However, the release of the single “Butterflies” from his highly anticipated album caught the attention of fans and critics alike.
With production support from legendary electronic musician Four Tet, the track was a captivating blend of dreamy deep house sounds that left listeners eagerly anticipating what could be an album. However, at this point an album was yet to be confirmed. Skrillex continued to build momentum with subsequent releases until he finally announced the long-awaited album release with “QFF/DGTC 23.” The electrifying “Rumble” hit the airwaves three days later, solidifying Skrillex’s return to the forefront of the electronic music scene.
“Rumble” is one of the significant standout tracks on “Quest For Fire.” Enhanced by the production assistance of Fred again.. and uninflected vocals from British rapper and MC Flowdan, the song exudes a captivating and intense “boiler room” feel (which, fittingly, was where it was teased back in July), providing an upbeat, bass-heavy experience for listeners.
Although not particularly danceable, it delights the ears with its mesmerizing rhythm and its builds and drops. It’s the type of song that immerses the listener in the moment, yearning to feel the bass pulsating through their body in a dimly lit room and eagerly anticipating the next beat drop that will leave them feeling free and exhilarated.
“Quest For Fire” showcases Skrillex’s prowess in creating some of electronic music’s coolest and most satisfying beat drops. His ability to roll the drums in an uncommon manner or combine a collection of electronically ambiguous sounds reminiscent of artists like Flume or QUIET BISON is awe-inspiring.
One such standout track on the album is “Tears” featuring Joker and Sleepnet, which perfectly captures this crisp sound. The song incorporates a washed-out sample of “Must Be Love” by Cassie and Puff Daddy and builds momentum with the repeated, distorted “Don’t you see the tears?” followed by a quick, playful “Listen” (sampled from Navi in “The Legend of Zelda”). The drop then hits with a choppy drum roll, reminiscent of bubbles popping or, perhaps, tears falling. The electronic noise is stimulating and brittle, making it a pleasure to hear — almost like cleaning out one’s ears.
This satisfaction is also heard in the more melodic “Supersonic (my existence).” Another track that invokes these better qualities in Skrillex’s production and the worldliness and range that the DJ can work with is “XENA,” featuring Palestinian singer Nai Barghouti. After what begins as an a capella section where only the singer is heard, the production builds around the repeated first verse, building up to a drop full of stuttering, rolling drums that highlight the bassy and fast-paced sound. On “XENA,” Skrillex gives listeners a drop so invigorating that fans will yearn to hear it again for the first time, remembering when the sonic dynamite first detonated in their ears.
“Quest For Fire” is full of great moments but lacks a sense of cohesiveness that should be present for such a significant return of an iconic name. The album holds remixes of songs previously released, an interlude featuring an old interview that ultimately goes nowhere and has a general absence of a common theme or sound to tie the impressive tracks together.
In addition to this, some tracks sometimes find themselves in moments laced with messy production. Though rare and minuscule compared to how exciting the album is, it seems as if Skrillex tries to impress with elaborate production that sounds like a misfire in the overall sound. An example is heard on the clear deep-cut single “RATATA,” featuring Missy Elliott. The song is a mix of Elliott’s rap and Skrillex’s production surrounding a catchy hook that sounds somewhat annoying.
Skrillex’s “Quest For Fire” marks a triumphant return for the electronic music legend after a lengthy hiatus from album releases. The album showcases Skrillex’s signature style and his experimental forays into the bass scene, all while featuring an impressive lineup of collaborators. Though the album may lack cohesion and contain a few moments of convoluted production, Skrillex’s ability to create crisp and satisfying beat drops shines through, crafting an exciting experience of an album. Overall, “Quest For Fire” is a strong addition to Skrillex’s discography and a reminder of his undeniable influence on the electronic music scene.
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Sorry for ranting.