22-year-old producer Porter Robinson’s first studio album, Worlds, might be best illuminated using the artist’s own tweets. “I am going to keep getting better,” Robinson posted recently, and followed up with, “To rephrase: I think I need to improve and I will.” It’s certainly not the most PR-friendly comment, especially in the lead-up to an album release, but it’s a good preface to a record which feels like it captures an artist in a period of transition.
That’s not to say Worlds isn’t an enjoyable album, because it is, and there’s something thrilling about listening to a record by a producer who conquered EDM in his early twenties and already feels like he needs to push boundaries.
Worlds departs Planet EDM for distant alternative-electronic landscapes, sculpted by the internet age and awash with Japanese culture and glitchy, sci-fi instrumentals. The Japanese influence is one of Porter’s most prominent characteristics right now, and Flicker sounds as if it’s straight from a video game, built with vocal samples and triumphant synths.
It’s the most optimistic track of the bunch, with many others feeling desolate and cold. Sad Machine begins with a Siri-like voice saying “Is anyone there?” while the CHVRCHES-sounding Years of War sings “fight until we are no more”, the perfect soundtrack for a post-apocalyptic wasteland.
In fact, the instrumentals are so visual and expansive that Worlds could be a film score. For every heart-racing fist-pumper (Lionhearted) there’s a reflective piece (Natural Light), easily ticking the boxes for the standard beats of a Hollywood sci-fi.
It’s a cohesive set, and a far more impressive full-length than many of his EDM predecessors have managed. While at times it’s a lonely listen, behind it there’s a producer who, at 22, is willing to take a chance to create something distinctly different. The fact that he’s successful in doing so makes it all the more triumphant.
‘Worlds’ is released in Australia this Friday, 8th August.
Listen: Porter Robinson – Flicker