Sunday Sounds: Porter Robinson “Worlds”

After a couple successful years of touring, producing an anthem of his own, “Language,” as well as co-writing a second with Zedd (“Clarity”), Porter Robinson decided it was time to sit down and create an album. Not just a random, disjointed pile of songs, but a complete and cohesive group of songs sharing a theme.

He also did something out of the ordinary and took time off from touring to conceptualize, design and assemble his songs around a central theme. His theme is “Worlds,” and it seems to merge his professional life of music and his personal life of video games and anime.

Even if you don’t follow Porter Robinson on Twitter or tumblr, you can hear the evidence in his music that he was deeply immersed in pop culture growing up, and that it’s had a profound effect on the way he sees the world. “Fellow Feeling” absolutely reeks of Hayao Miyazaki, and evokes images of passing dramatic landscapes, marking an emotional journey. Not to mention the heavily digitized vocals on Flicker, who sounds reminiscent of Midna from Twilight Princess.

While separating himself physically from the world of EDM, Porter wound up distancing himself further with criticisms of the state of EDM, citing that both the music and it’s producers had become hollow vessels of their former selves, and that the appeal was only to the biggest drops and the lowest common denominator. However, he did come back after his two-hour Essential Mix for BBC Radio 1, he expressed his enthusiasm for the future of dance music, stating the process of putting together the mix and combing through material reminded him that everything was, perhaps, going to be okay.

Fans of his previous work, like “Language” and his collab with Mat Zo, “Easy” will no doubt find it odd to transition to his new style. It’s not beat-driven, vocals way up front and jagged synth-lines competing for sonic space. There’s room to breathe, and the valleys outnumber the peaks, but there is still payoff. It just might not come until 1:32 into the song (Flicker). My girlfriend may have put it best when she said, “I like his new music, I just don’t really know how to dance to it.”

I think “Worlds” will prove an important record in the EDM world, marking a shift where producers and songwriters take a break to craft something more meaningful and more cohesive than a string of singles they created on their laptops while on layover. It may also open the door for more emotions than the “I love you and I love the world and I love this very moment let’s not ever let this moment end” type of lyrics that dominate the EDM music world. I like those lyrics, but there’s more to life than that.

So, this Sunday, adjust your expectations. No, I don’t mean just lowering the bar so you don’t get disappointed. That trick never works because you never allow yourself to stop being disappointed. Be more open to your own ambitions as well as the people around you.

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