Release Date: Feb 27, 2015
Record label: Atlantic
Before April 2013, no one knew what the hell a Jack Ü was. When Diplo announced it as the name he and Skrillex were using while working together, the EDM Internets exploded in euphoric wonderment, trying to wrap their heads around the myriad possibilities this group contained. These guys represented two-thirds of America's EDM trinity (we see you, A-Trak), and were forever ahead of the curve when it came to producing with the right sounds and selecting the right talent.
Since 2013, Skrillex and Diplo, perhaps concerned that there just weren’t enough drops in the world, have been making music together as Jack Ü. This debut album was released partway through a 24-hour DJ set in Santa Monica that was eventually shut down by police due to overcrowding. It’s no surprise to discover that the production duo – whose inspiration to start making music together came from their wild joint festival DJ sets – haven’t exactly used it as an opportunity to explore subtlety.But what the duo lack in tact, they make up for by finding the sweet spot between M.I.A.
In 2013, Skrillex partnered with Cliff Martinez for the Spring Breakers soundtrack, an ambient-skewing collection that displayed two brand-name artists collaborating on something subtle, novel and tasteful. The music honored their specific styles and signatures while spinning a new and interesting whole. More than 2014’s tepid and somewhat soulless Recess, Spring Breakers hinted at a vision of Skrillex as someone whose output might be deeper than the drop.
Skrillex and Diplo's first album together has one purpose: moving bodies. But that simple quest has led the duo to a wonderfully trim set that's as forward-sounding as any dance release in recent memory. Though they begin most of its 10 tracks in familiar territory, they quickly push on to new ground, or at least new levels of intensity. Early highlight "Beats Knockin' " adds industrial distortion and whiplash-inducing tempo changes to a frenzied New Orleans bounce reminiscent of Diplo's "Express Yourself," and "Jungle Bae" (featuring Trinidadian star Bunji Garlin) brings additional firepower to the Carnival-ready soca-EDM hybrid of Diplo's Major Lazer project.
Midway through their 24 hour DJ set last night – which from the livestream looked like the sort of club scene recreated in Hollyoaks – full-time aural activists and current dance music overlords Skrillex and Diplo announced they would be dropping their debut album as Jack Ü on iTunes with immediate effect. After forming Jack Ü as a DJing outlet for festivals back in September 2013, the pair started teasing out snippets of new music via radio mixes, culminating in their first single proper, the amazing Take Ü There, featuring Kiesza. Its quality is cemented by the fact that it appears on Skrillex & Diplo Presents Jack Ü both in its original form and as a bowel-rupturing, ludicrously energising Missy Elliott remix.
“I’ve always made music for that kid in me,” Skrillex told Complex last year. It’s a quote that goes a long way to understanding the EDM figurehead’s music, which feels like it owes more to child-like wonderment than overindulging in molly water at a huge festival. It’s probably part of why those outside the EDM sphere are willing to overlook the lurid excesses of his music; while some of his peers pose like messiahs or grapple with on-stage existential crises while playing drudging trance-house, Skrillex seems to understand the ridiculousness of a culture that demands him to have a logo to sell himself and eight trucks to ferry around a DJ booth shaped like an alien mothership.