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Skrillex makes a welcome return with Quest For Fire

"Quest For Fire"

Release date: 17 February 2023
Skrillex Quest For Fire Album Artwork
21 February 2023, 18:00 Written by David Cobbald

Eight years is a long time to wait for new music, but the second coming of Skrillex was worth waiting for.

Quest For Fire is an EDM record with an ensemble cast of appearances, and stellar performances from both vocal artist and synthesiser. Skrillex ventures from one sub-genre to the next, hopping track-to-track as he writes his love letter to dance music.

Intro “Leave Me Like This” is a house track not far from something you’d hear on a Disclosure album, and this exploration of house music can be found on “Butterflies” too, where Four Tet’s production add a layer of trance to the grunge-y beat under Starrah’s vocal, before developing into a jungle house outro. What’s apparent is that this album is Skrillex having fun, and he wants you to join in. “RATATA” with no other than Missy Elliott, is album standout and a prime example of this; a driving beat, excellent production, and a flow that you can’t resist moving your body to.

Across the album, Skrillex experiments with several things – one being the vocal, and how it can be repurposed into an instrument. You can find this on his remix of Kito’s “Alone With You” with Aluna (“Inhale Exhale”) and on “XENA,” where he takes Palestinian vocalist Nai Barghouti and transforms her pipes into ethereal melodies over an urgent beat. It’s here that he also plays with speed, squeezing and elongating the vocal across several pitches as the song progresses, and it’s a masterclass in progressive EDM in four minutes.

Skrillex harkens back to 2021 on two tracks here, firstly on a hyped-up, or ‘juked’ version of “TOO BIZARRE” that refreshes Swae Lee’s vocal from two years ago and effortlessly blends it into this album of new ideas, and secondly with the single “Supersonic (my existence),” which fits into the album despite the time gap since release. These tracks make evident the longevity of Skrillex’s music – long gone are the dated days of dubstep’s messiah “Bangarang” and similar tracks, and in are the considered and perfected notes of EDM.

There are darker moments here too, and both “Tears” and “A Street I Know” take you to the slower, more intense realms of EDM – also on vocal track “Hydrate” with Flowdan, where the simple message “It’s simple not complicated / so when it’s hot just stay hydrated” adds a layer of playfulness to the grinding production. Flowdan also adds sultry flow to “Rumble” with Fred Again.., who adds a deeper layer of production that can’t be found elsewhere on the album, once again highlighting the vast expanse of EDM.

This deep and dark sound is drastically contrasted with upbeat hyper-produced track “Good Space,” which is introduced with a strange, but welcome, 50-second intro of Pete Wentz being interviewed in 2005 over a growing synth production before the beat kicks in. Yet again this sense of ‘just having fun’ comes through with this album, and you can’t help but immerse yourself in it.

The intro idea is utilised again at the end of the album, with “Hazel Theme” leading into the somewhat euphoric “Still Here (with the ones that I came with).” The album closer submerges you in the growing chorus of synthesisers over driving drum machines and reassuring vocals, and it gives an apt credits scene to the record. Moments from a live performance amp up the urgency, and Porter Robinson’s production add even more ‘oomph’ to the final two minutes of the track.

There isn’t a better way that Skrillex could’ve made his return, and Quest For Fire will undoubtedly be remembered as one of his best.

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