Written Before Listen
Porter Robinson is an artist who I didn’t hear about until recently. When looking to see what new music was getting buzz in music circles, this was an album I heard about. Without knowing any prior knowledge about his music, I dont what to expect diving into this but with that being said, I’m open to new things (musically speaking) and let’s see what Porter has in store
Other than the usual blend of Pop and House music, there are a lot of styles that Robinson dabbles in all over this album. We even start off with an electronic classical piece on “LifeLike” with its orchestral ambience. Thats not the only classically influenced song on the album. He revisits the classical influence on “Wind Tempos” but it’s more of an influence than an actual part of the song. On “Do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do”, we see Porter go into a Drum-N-Bass vibe but it’s a lot more acidic and loose than your usual DnB track. He even goes festival mode on “Something Comforting” too. As you can see, this album is a menu of high energy. Although the high energy carries and represents this album a fair amount, it’s not high energy electronic dance pop with every track. Tracks like “dullscythe" and “Sweet Time” are tracks that are still electronic based but dabble into more of the melancholic aspects. I should also mention that there’s even a folk ballad on the latter half with “Blossom” too. As you can see, Porter Robinson seems to be highly knowledgable in the genre of EDM. It might not be successful all of the time but it’s cool to hear a producer with this much variety and versatility.
Porter Robinson is obviously a person who chooses digital over analog. He’s a computer musician. There is obviously nothing wrong with that. There are a lot of unique manipulations, glitches and even loops that provide a great backdrop to this album. Porter Robinson isn’t a ‘less is more’ philosopher either. There are tracks like “Something Comforting” and “Unfold” where we get full on drops but at the same time, there are tracks like “Wind Tempos” and “Trying To Feel Alive” where the drops are replaced with complex glitches. He isn’t shy on live-sounding instruments either. There are a lot of pianos, guitars and drum breaks all over the place but they are manipulated, side chained and compressed to the point where they still sound digital. Personally, Im a fan of this but it can get too much. The digital instrumentation can sometimes have a limit and come off as basic or dull at points. Luckily that doesn’t appear frequently and when it does, it isn’t that big of a deal.
One thing that caught me off guard first listen were the vocals. A lot of the time Porters vocals are pitched higher than usual but still sounds like the original artist. This is not the first time this has been done. The first examples that come to mind are Frank Ocean and Tyler The Creator. Sure there are times where his normal vocals come into play but a majority of the tracks contain the manipulated vocal inflections. It honestly brings a lot more charm and character. Sometimes doing these type of vocal inflections help more than it does harm but if you do it overwhelmingly frequently, it will lose its character. Porter doesn’t lose its character but instead comes really close to doing so. If Porter could’ve taken the manipulations back a slight notch, the album would probably be more enjoyable.
In my personal experience with this album, I think Porter’s strongest attribute is his songwriting. It’s not the most widespread or complex because it’s honestly the opposite of those two elements. It’s very simple. Topically, Porter mainly talks about love, motivation or escapism. It’s not really what he talks about that makes it strong though. It’s more on how he does it. For example, both “Mother” and “Blossom” are tracks about love. The difference is how he writes about the topic of love. “Mother” is about showing love to his parents while “Blossom” is about showing love to his girlfriend. This is not the only instance of this either. When it comes to the topic of escapism, “Musician” and “Mirror” are two tracks about the same topic. Once again, it’s how he talks about them. “Musician” is about escaping writers block and “Mirror” is about escaping your inner critic. To wrap this topic all up, I think it’s easily shown that Porter knows what his strong suits are and knows how to use them in a songwriting aspect.
Like I said on previous topics. The wide variety portion of Porters creativity can come off as hit or miss. Sometimes he can come off as instrumentally dull or vocally redundant. Other than that, I also think the more classical directed pieces come off as too artificial for my liking. With that bring said, Porter Robinsons Nurture is like a warm hug that goes on for a little too long.
For this being my first impression of Porters music, I see him as a talented producer and songwriter. He’s a very positive guy and I truly support his philosophy and mind state. The problem is that I’m not reviewing him a a person. im reviewing an album that so happened to be made by him.