Thursday, January 5th, 2012

Skrillex & The Doors – Breakn’ A Sweat

I think it’s an equal stretch to call either of these collaborators the sound of 2012…


Iain Mew: Skrillex is such a fantastically onomatopoeic name for doing noisy dubstep breakdowns. I was using “screeeeEEEEEEE” to describe what Flux Pavilion did before I’d even heard of Skrillex! Anyway, those parts are still really enjoyable and fitting them into the rest of the track almost seems besides the point.

John Seroff: With “inspiration” from Davis’ Milestones? Really? Someone is clearly trolling. I suppose Skrillex or Manzarek could be yanking chains, but my money is on The Academy, holding out hope that they can con kids into buying iTunes catalog if grampa will just submit to the fauxhawk and lip piercing treatment. Nice try guys, but I can hardly get worked up over something this squawkily benign. Besides, the real precedents here obviously aren’t The Doors or Miles at all but heavily watered-down DJ Shadow, right down to the spoken word aside about The Future Of Music.  Spoiler: it’s apparently Skrillex knob-twiddling beside a couple of guys who had their last major musical success in 1978, playing underneath a dead man’s vocals.  Happy new year.

Brad Shoup: Operation: Kill Greil Marcus is underway! Over sequential noodling, someone (possibly Manzarek) steps into Jim’s blustery bellow, providing the Boomer conceptual cover; Sonny goes one better by splicing in a Morrison interview that appears prescient if you don’t think of the Radiophonic Workshop. The track spends most of its time congratulating itself, really. It’s a solos exhibition, and while it’s wonderful that AARP-eligible luminaries will strap it on with pop kids, there’s very little here that couldn’t have been accomplished with a sampler and a Butts Band record.

Anthony Easton: I hear almost none of The Doors in this, aside from the ludicrous Prophet James Morrison spoken word break and the “Light My Fire” quotation in places. It sounds like pretty typical Skrillex. Not completely in love with it, but I can handle.

Alex Ostroff: So, this is what all the fuss was about? The opening percussion is a bit Janelle Monáe-ish, the rest is kind of a weird mix between ‘Eastern’ signifiers and wobble and a mediocre take on the whole Jamie xx/Gil Scott-Heron thing. It’s certainly not as offensively terrible as I assumed it would be from the contentiousness Skrillex seems to provoke. 

Doug Robertson: Before the vocals kick in, there’s a fear — the sort of fear that would have all reasonable people locking their doors and destroying any bell like instrument they have — that this is all about to go a bit Mike Oldfield, but once you get over that hurdle the rest of the track unfolds with an aggressive blissfulness that seems unsure whether it wants to beat you about the head with a broken bottle or a scented pillow. Music for the quilted generation.

Michaela Drapes: First, Van Dyke Parks — now The Doors? Am I missing something here about Skrillex (besides, I guess, a fetishistic interest in a tiny slice of L.A.-based music history)? Wait, don’t answer that. I mean, hey, look, I survived the first round of everyone under the sun hitching their wagons to rave in order to seem… relevant. Please, please don’t make me go through this garbage again, especially if it’s part of some kind of digital marketing campaign for a goddamn car.

Katherine St Asaph: Dubstep for dummies, assuming that you can’t locate the breakdown without an announcer, that you can’t identify the Doors without “come on baby, light my fire” and that the New Generation’s Music needs to be mumbled into verifiability.

Jonathan Bogart: So it turns out that you can make loops out of any sonorities you want. Even sonorities that are heavily associated with particular events, people, and (fergawdsake) generations. I know. Mind blown, right?

Jonathan Bradley: Skrillex is one of those acts I’ve read more about than I’ve heard, and what I’ve read is damning: Skrillex is bro-step, some kind of terrible music for bros, that happened when intelligent genteel English electronic compositions were bastardized for uncouth American college students. I don’t know much about bros — though I expect they’re the polar opposite to Bros — but the Internet has made it clear that I definitely don’t want to be one, and that listening to Skrillex is the best way of becoming a bro. Besides, brostep is dumb and not subtle at all. So listening to this song requires chopping through a bunch of preconceptions that individually matter little to me, but are together rather daunting. I like dumb music (crunk! Rick Ross! Katy Perry’s good songs!). A genre, like dubstep, that claims superiority because it eludes mass audiences should be treated particularly warily. Subtlety is overrated. I especially like something Skrillex provides here: crazy noises that ricochet all over the place and make the track sound like it’s tearing itself apart. Is brostep all drops? So what? Hip-hop started when DJs decided music could be all breaks. And Skrillex is so single-mindedly focused on dancefloor efficiency that he has a sample announce “This is the breakdown” before the breakdown, just in case we were going to miss it. And yet none of it is as thrilling as its component parts would suggest. It plods where it should plotz. The vocal snippets are big and obvious, but couldn’t they be bigger and more obvious — Baltimore Club-level obvious, perhaps? Maybe it just needs more drops.

12 Responses to “Skrillex & The Doors – Breakn’ A Sweat”

  1. Good bro-step breakdown Jonathan; should be cut and pasted into a hundred blogs.

  2. To be fair to Skrillex, though, he’s the best of “brostep” – that’s why he’s so popular – and “brostep” itself as a genre is reaching the cusp of becoming more innovative/interesting in its own right. It is NOT FAIR to listen to a few Skrillexes these days and be like “Oh this is quite all right, don’t know what ppl were complaining about” when you missed the actual horrible bastardization stage!

  3. I feel like I should, mention, however, that despit Just Not Getting what Skrillex is up to (besides making a whole shitload of money!), I totally have a dirty old lady crush on him. Weird.

  4. “Summit, off his new EP, is actually kind of great.

  5. ” Hip-hop started when DJs decided music could be all breaks. ”

    And it evolved. I’ll probably like Brostep one day. If it evolves.

  6. I still do not find Skrillex interesting. His music is tolerable, mostly cohesive, and otherwise reasonable – I just don’t find it particularly interesting.

  7. If Skrillex wasn’t so “popular”, none of the Jukebox writers would find him interesting either. (Does popularity = interesting? I don’t think it necessarily does.)

  8. “Ruffneck (FULL Flex)” came thisclose to making my end-of-year top 10.

  9. Popularity means, at the very least, that someone is interested, and one strand of culture writing is professionally interested in interest. Doesn’t mean anyone in general or in particular has to find it interesting; also doesn’t make accounts of what you might call secondhand interest any less useful.

  10. Took a Korn collab to make me able to have an opinion, let alone be even remotely interested.

  11. Protocrunk

    Crunkmus-Scarface Tony Montana

  12. Oh! Of the Baton Rouge Hustlemans?