Contrary to popular belief I actually don’t think the greatest thing that has come out of Skillrex’s revival of the dubstep/electro house scene this side of the 10s is the ear-destroying high pitch sounds and the “wubs”. Don’t get me wrong, those are some…really…nice qualities that an untapped market totally appreciates. I’m not that market though, I like balanced sounds. Skrillex’s style of dubstep, for the most part, has been about mixtures of hip hop with dubstep or the complete and total annihilation of what it means to be “balanced”. And that’s not a bad thing all the time, in fact if Skrillex’s success is a metric then unbalanced highs and lows in music is in fact really cool or exactly what some people want. And if you take a look at the genres before Skrillex it’s fair to say he inspired many people and changed the way artists approach them. I just don’t care for it and really I think people have gone head-over-heels for it because at times Skrillex has represented the “edge” for hipsters to jump on (no, you’re not a hipster, but there are hipsters for everything that’s new so face it: The person next to you MIGHT BE ONE), it’s either that or my hearing is just weirdly sensitive. The third possibility is the one that keeps me writing this stuff: People just haven’t explored what’s out there. And so I write these blogs and make Typer Tyme the show in the hopes that one day there’ll be a crowd of people looking for the stuff I look for and I’ll finally have some friends on the internet. /sarcasm
Really though I think the best things that have come out of Skrillex’s revival of the dubstep / electro house scene come 2-fold. First and foremost is…well the style of the electro-trend that built out of it. Again, Skrillex’s appeal these days is Jack U and some combinations of hip hop, jazz, lots of genres actually mixed in with his electronic skills. And I have nothing against what he does, in fact he does a really good job at what he does. His style just clashes against mine like tuna salad. Somebody likes it but I know it’s not me. It smells wrong and I think if you need to work that many extra ingredients onto the fish it just doesn’t want to be eaten. But so many artists have looked at what Skrillex did to a late 90s/early 00s breaks-based genre and have been inspired by that. That’s awesome, it’s brought out artists like Savant and Adam K and given fuel to already wildly successful people like deadmau5. In fact I’m pretty sure the entire Monstercat label just wouldn’t exist today if Skrillex didn’t do his thing. Without Skrillex you wouldn’t have today’s track either, at least it wouldn’t be the same. Speaking of today’s track…
That’s the second best thing Skrillex’s work did: It gave electro-bass REALLY GOOD FUEL. Look believe it or not electro-house was a genre that developed back in the late 90s/early 00s as well. Ferry Corsten’s trance album “L.E.F.” in 2006 featured a lot of unique electro instruments through and through and the Above & Beyond crew even considered running a daughter label “Anjuna-Electro” but they folded it after some time (probably didn’t get enough steam). The difficulty with making the music back then either came because the technology wasn’t there to play with more electro-sounds or because someone hadn’t really thought about taking the typically thuddy bass and distorting the crap out of it to the point that it felt warmer than it did impactful. Either way, the resulting sound from our “EDM” movement of the past six years is a textured one, providing a sheet rock of new sounds to build upon or morph from when working with bass. It’s proved so pliant that it works for a big club presence with tracks like iLan Bluestone’s “Spheres” or “Tesseract”, it obviously works well in the dubstep presence (see Xilent’s entire album “We Are Virutal” or deadmau5’s “4×4=12”), and it even works in trance. In fact, it works really well in trance.
And so that brings us to “One Thing About You”, a trance favorite of mine from 2015 that knocks it out of the park. Andy Moor pairs with Somna and they worked with Amy Kirkpatrick on the writing and vocals to create this track that wonderfully represents how trance tracks can use that new textured distorted style of bass as a background element, a presence, and even a piece of the mood set by the songwriting. The lyrics speak of someone walling up feelings / creating a sense that things are not okay to the person speaking. Yet despite difficulties, the person speaking does not want the other to change. It’s a tangled bag of wanting things or confidence to change without wanting the person to actually change who they are. The drive in is strong but the track really shines as an electro-infused trance anthem as it hits the crescendo. It doesn’t rely on a multiplying time signature or a big “drop” so much as a snare and the lifting of the melodies in pure trance style. This all comes shortly after a bridge mixed with acoustic guitar, piano, and Amy’s lovely vocals in also pure trance fashion. The final chorus fades the strong club sounds and eliminates most other sounds besides a focus on the vocals and the ever present electro-wall that rides the experience through and through.
See also: Tomahawk by BT with Adam K, Keep Your Secrets by Andrew Bayer (Myon & Shane 54 Summer of Love Remix)
Sidebar: Dad’s viewing was today. It went well, many many old friends and family seen and hugged. It was a long day, I’m tired, I wrote this a week ago and I’m glad I did because I don’t to work up the effort to find another song or album to write about today.