Reviews

Skrillex “Quest for Fire” Album Review

Quest For Fire

Skrillex

  • Genre: Electronic
  • Date: 17 Feb, 2023
  • Content: explicit
  • Region: NGA
  • Track(s): 15
  • ℗ 2023 OWSLA/Atlantic Records, Inc.

Sonny Moore, as Skrillex, has not released an album in nine years. His 2014 debut, ‘Recess,’ began with a track called “All Is Fair in Love and Brostep,” a knowing homage to the disparaging nickname for the dubstep-derived style that made him famous.

Skrillex is one of the most distinctive EDM artists. His talents as a producer have been sought not only by mainstream performers like Justin Bieber and Ed Sheeran but also by hip-pop superstars known for their epicurean tastes in collaborators like Beyoncé, the Weeknd, Pink Pantheress, and FKA twigs.

“Quest for Fire”‘s guest list, appropriately, checks every box in terms of big-name dance album collaborations. There are rappers like Missy Elliott and Swae Lee of Rae Sremmurd. Pop vocalists include Aluna Francis of the British duo AlunaGeorge. There are global music proponents, such as Palestinian singer Nai Barghouti, who sings in Arabic on Xena, and alt-rock figures, such as angsty singer-songwriter Siiickbrain and Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz.

Quest for Fire also features cameos by Four Tet, the outspokenly independent electronic auteur, and Flowdan, the grime MC/producer best known for his work with the Bug.

Album Art

Skrillex &Quot;Quest For Fire&Quot; Album Review, Yours Truly, Reviews, December 3, 2023
Pitchfork

A famous Native American sculpture inspired the album cover. It shows a being on an animal, probably some horse, but the ‘horse’ doesn’t seem to be in severe motion as its head is facing downwards as if pondering on the following line of action. Talking of the ‘head,’ the animal is bearing a shrunken head that seems to portray something sinister or dark while clothed in royal embroidery the being seated. The being is also royally dressed and appears to be holding a seal of some sort, as in the old days. The surrounding environment speaks of desolation but also, but the royalty displayed shows hope.

Tracks And Features

The track list includes Skrillex’s 2021 singles “Butterflies” (with Starrah and Four Tet), a remix of “Too Bizarre” (with Swae Lee and Siiickbrat), and “Supersonic (My Existence)” (with Noisia, Josh Pan and Dylan Brady). In addition, “Ratata,” starring Missy Elliott and Mr. Oizo, incorporates an interpolation of Elliott’s 2002 song “Work It” and a sample of “Positif” by Mr. Oizo.

Its 15 tracks are completed in three-quarters of an hour. A fidgety impatience define the music; the restlessness is conveyed not just in the variety of styles on offer – you get a little bit of everything, from house and dubstep to two-step garage and Chicago juke – but also in the compositions’ attention-deficit design.

As on “Tears,” atmospheric stretches erupt into brief spurts of pounding four-to-the-floor beats, mixed with the massive cold synth stabs featured in Faithless’ 90s pop-house classics. Tracks are interrupted by startling samples of MCs asking people to create noise, robot voices proclaiming the producer’s name, firearms unloading, and chants of “smoke ’em!”.

When he has a singer on board, he seldom resists the urge to use Auto-Tune, speed them up to helium squeakiness, or use the old Fatboy Slim approach of cutting their voice into a persistent loop over a hands-in-the-air drum roll. You wish he’d calm down a little and stop pressing buttons whenever the urge strikes, not least because the results are outstanding when he does: the relatively streamlined Flowdan collab Rumble builds up an impressive air of menace, and if big-room pop-house is your thing, “Leave Me Like This” is a very accomplished example.

Skrillex’s attempt to give everything a pop shine has varied results. The drum N bass-influenced “Good Space” and “A Street I Know” compete for space with tunes like “Ratatata,” where the blending of a sample from Missy Elliott’s “Work It” and needling synth stumbles along the line that divides insistent from unpleasant.

On “Butterflies,” Four Tet’s twinkling aesthetic transitions into more obviously commercial seas. But “Too Bizarre”‘s attempt to transform Chicago juke into something chart-worthy falls flat: its marriage of warp-speed beats and neon-hued melodies ends up sounding like early-90s Eurohouse, which can’t have been the intention.

Tracklist

NOTITLEARTISTTIME
1Leave Me Like ThisSkrillex & Bobby Raps3:08
2RATATASkrillex, Missy Elliott & Mr. Oizo2:06
3TearsSkrillex, Joker & Sleepnet3:05
4RumbleSkrillex, Fred again.. & Flowdan2:26
5ButterfliesSkrillex, Starrah & Four Tet3:15
6Inhale ExhaleSkrillex, Aluna & Kito3:25
7A Street I KnowSkrillex & Eli Keszler3:35
8XENASkrillex & Nai Barghouti4:11
9TOO BIZARRE (juked)Skrillex, Swae Lee, Siiickbrain & Posij3:28
10HydrateSkrillex, Flowdan, BEAM & PEEKABOO3:36
11Warped Tour ’05 with pete WENTZSkrillex0:48
12Good SpaceSkrillex & Starrah2:12
13Supersonic (my existence)Skrillex, Noisia, josh pan & Dylan Brady2:45
14Hazel ThemeSkrillex1:51
15Still Here (with the ones that I came with)Skrillex, Porter Robinson & Bibi Bourelly5:03

Album Summary

On his second full-length Record, the connoisseur’s EDM musician crams every production technique in the book: guest-laden eclecticism that treads the line between catchy and obnoxious.

You’re left with something that feels more like a crowded mood board than an album, an eclectic grab-bag of ideas that succeed to varied degrees. When it hits the mark, it’s easy to see why mainstream stars and outliers alike have been lured into Skrillex’s orbit. But, when taken all at once, it’s exhilarating, challenging, and draining.

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