Worlds is the type of album that breaks through genre barriers and defines a signature sound for an artist. As such, it has become the most anticipated dance record of 2014. Producing huge electro bangers such as Language, Spitfire, and Easy, Porter has expanded his sound into something more melodic and emotional that delves the listener into atmospheric soundscapes of the most inner imagination of Robinson. Many of the songs on this album won’t get crowds shuffling or jumping at festivals, but that’s not what Porter wanted to accomplish. Above anything, showcasing his superb production talent and his excellent understanding of music theory is the highlight of the record. This album is to be appreciated on a much different level than your typical jump-around banger, and we invite you to take a journey through Porter Robinson’s Worlds…
1) Divinity (feat. Amy Millan): Porter takes the first steps with us on this amazing journey with ‘Divinity’, featuring Amy Millan’s haunting vocals that throw us into Porter’s imagination, and begins to immerse us into the scenery of his album. ‘Divinity’ features glitchy and gated samples, yet also provides a deeply synthed track that undoubtedly lays the foundation for the futuristic, robotic elements found within the rest of the record. As an introductory track, ‘Divinity’ fits perfectly, but beyond that, I feel it does not stand alone, as it does not provide the listener with much of a beat until nearly 3:00 minutes into the track. Porter lets us know early that he created Worlds as whole, rather than a bunch of singles thrown together. Beautiful soundscape production to open the album.
2) Sad Machine: By now the entire world should be familiar with ‘Sad Machine’ as it was pre-released seemingly forever ago. This track introduces a robotic-vocal synthesizer beaming glitchy syllables into the listener’s Headphones as, Porter himself, coins his own lyrics onto the track in beautiful unison with the robot. ‘Sad Machine’ seems to tell a story about an an encounter between a robotic girl and human boy (as Porter previously explained). Due to its self-proclaimed narrative story, it only makes sense that this track is vocal heavy and alludes much more to the storyline within the track. ‘Sad Machine’ definitely operates at deeper, more emotional level of imagination setting the stage for the up-tempo, more contemporary, ‘Years of War’.
3) Years Of War: First off, you can totally hear signature synths from his hit track Language in this track if you listen closely.Personally, this is one of my favorite songs on the entire album as this new wave track definitely references some of Porter’s early inspirations.This referencing results in an originally tasteful track that lends a hand to the listener, picking them up from the previous emotional escapade, ‘Sad Machine’. Production wise, satisfying trance elements dominate most of this song, with an up-tempo beat mixed finely with lo-fi synths. I really love the transition from ‘Sad Machine’ into ‘Years of War’ as it creates a sense of hunger for the listener and makes them crave more and more from Worlds. You begin to feel the music theory Porter is known for, and start to understand the delicate placement of the tracks on this album were deliberate.
4) Flicker: ‘Flicker’ was a more recently released single from the Worlds album, and delves deep into Porter’s Japanese influence as he sort of pays tribute to these influences, and how it has skyrocketed his career into stardom. As a fan, when an artist references his or her roots in a track, it always has a nostalgic effect and allows a connection between artist and listener. ‘Flicker’ is full of metallic guitar synths, robotic japanese voices, melodic grooves, and includes a delightful surprise of an electro breakdown. This track undoubtedly embodies who Porter Robinson is, from the early days when he was introduced to EDM via Dance Dance Revolution, through his hit electro productions Spitfire and Language, to his genre breaking album. What a journey this album is so far!
5) Fresh Static Snow: A tightened, high-pitch guitar style Synth clears a path to one of Porter’s grittier basslines in the album, then breaks down into the heart of this album; robotic voices and cosmic atmospheric melodies. Much like the title, Porter adds in more than enough white noise, and makes this track pretty literal to its title. If you listen closely, you can hear the electro/dubstep roots that Porter introduced into the world of electronic music with Spitfire and Language. It feels refreshing to know that the old Porter is still there, only matured. I would recommend this track to some bassheads and dub lovers.
6) Polygon Dust (feat. Lemaitre): The heart warming, and easily repeatable lyrics from Lemaitre, make this song a festival anthem that will be loved by just about every crowd who will join arm in arm chanting the lyrics and simply feeling the good vibes. If anything, this track is an outlier on the entire album, as it doesn’t include many odd, glitchy, robotic, or futuristic synths or voices. It is actually, well…normal. Perhaps Porter wanted to bring the listener back to an even gravity mid-way through the album? Again, the strategic placement of songs on this record is apparent and really forces the listener to appreciate the genius behind the madness.
7) Hear The Bells (feat. Imaginary Cities): Featuring vocals by Canadian indie pop band Imaginary Cities, ‘Hear The Bells’ is a peaceful progressive track with an admirable message, ideal for Worlds. Beginning with the lyrics:
“Dying in a cruel world, drudging with my feet in the snow, on a day out, and it turned right now. Doctor, I’ve been walking on the side of the road for a long time, and I’m going out of my mind.”
It is a tad depressing, but it fits in with Worlds because the unfortunate truth is we live in an imperfect world. As ‘Hear The Bells’ plays on though, one hopefully accepts this sad truth, learning to look at our world from a different perspective. ‘Hear The Bells’ is beyond the average song, containing a much deeper meaning, it is a brilliant addition to Worlds as the listener begins the second half of the record.
8) Natural Light: ‘Natural Light’ is the shortest track on the album, but do not allow its length to diminish its importance. After ‘Hear The Bells’ brought the mood down a notch, Porter must work the energy level back up before one reaches ‘Lionhearted’. And what better way to do so than a futuristic experimental electronic track. The track seems to “naturally” build up, slowly, but surely, using various ambient sounds and the occasional vocal, over a steady in-and-out bassline. Another peaceful piece to the record indeed, but the progression throughout the track seems to prepare us for something more, maybe the “light” of ‘Lionhearted’ at the end of the tunnel?
9) Lionhearted (feat. Urban Cone): Now that ‘Natural Light’ has prepared us for the song we have all come to know and love since the Music Video ‘Lionhearted’ we can continue on our journey through Porter’s Worlds. Featuring Swedish indie pop band Urban Cone’s vocals, ‘Lionhearted’ is a bit more normal of a progressive track, however, it still has Porter’s new and unique style. A perfect cross between what is ordinary and what is not, I feel the entire record was building up to this track, the climax of the album. Listen as the track plays on, building up more and more, until the very end, during a final drop, ‘Lionhearted’ abruptly comes to a close, and we transition into the final phase of our journey.
10) Sea Of Voices: When I first heard ‘Sea Of Voices’ back in February, not knowing what exactly to expect from Worlds, I had imagined ‘Sea Of Voices’ as the introductory track to the album. I loved the track, so soothing and beautiful, but I hoped all of Worlds would not be quite the same. Then when I saw Porter tweet the tracklist in June, seeing the track’s location, naturally I was concerned. However with Worlds finally released today, there is no concern, just love, because ‘Sea Of Voices’ is not only an amazing track, but the location on the album is also perfect. As the album begins to come to a close after the excitement of ‘Lionhearted’, ‘Sea Of Voices’ sets up ‘Fellow Feeling’ and ‘Goodbye To A World’ in an elegant manor.
11) Fellow Feeling: ‘Fellow Feeling’ is likely the richest track on Worlds as far as a deeper meaning is concerned, and I could definitely write an entire article, solely dedicated to my theory behind the track if I could, but it is much easier to simplify things. Before Porter says goodbye, he wants us to see the world as he sees it, ugly, but beautiful. There is not much buildup to the track, only an inviting melody, welcoming us into a world as Porter sees it. A young girl is speaking of this world, and then, out of nowhere, the song drops… However, this is not a usual bass drop, and as the girl’s voice returns, we begin to understand, as she says:
“Let me explain. This ugliness, this cruelty, this repulsiveness. It will all die out, and now, I cry, for all that is beautiful.”
The young girl’s lesson, Porter’s lesson, is simple, there is beauty behind everything, and that is how Porter sees the world.
12) Goodbye To A World: ‘Goodbye To A World’ seems self-explanatory, featuring robotic vocals over a simple melody, the track clearly serves as Porter’s goodbye to us, but it is beyond a basic goodbye. He is not only thanking and saying goodbye to all of us, but he is saying goodbye to our world as well. The robotic vocals are him, and as the song goes on, the voice begins to break up because he is leaving us and then they completely cut out because he has left us… :’
( But this does not have to be goodbye, our journey may be over, but Porter taught us how to look at the world, we can join him, in Porter’s Worlds!)