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Nineteen-year-old Porter Robinson has been touted as the face of electro to come since his debut single “Say My Name” exploded onto the Beatport charts in 2010 before ever stepping foot into a DJ booth, and since that time the Chapel Hill product has done nothing to bring his anointment, however spurious, into question. He presents a preternatural instinct for the groove through his live sets and his signing to new nu-rave godfather Skrillex’s label OWSLA affords him the platform to further develop his talents. Robinson’s debut EP Spitfire represents his first release under that banner, but with it, questions as to whether he is indeed the next great talent to come along in the world of electro-house remain unanswered. A debut is an opportunity to establish an identity with fans, but through six tracks, Robinson attempts to do a little too much with the little room he’s given. There’s little here that resembles the pulsating, ultra-hard electro of “Say My Name,” but instead the listener is greeted by the unwieldy synthesis of ambient soul and neurofunk of the title track. Elsewhere, he’s diddling in a fusion of electro and moombahtoon in the infectious “100% In the Bitch,” and making political statements via bleakly no-wave-inspired deep synth anti-grooves on “The State.” The EP’s biggest fault occurs when Robinson peppers tracks with vanilla dubstep breakdowns. One minute it’s a blissed-out progressive house track, the next it’s an aural assault via facsimiled beats that snatches the mind state and leaves only mild annoyance — though the Punch Out samples are pretty darling. Of course, under Skrillex’s influence, it was only a matter of time before pinched sounds made their way into his repertoire. It’s a solid mix for a first effort overall, but this kid can do better. We hope.
Porter Robinson will perform in support of Tiesto on Thursday at the LJVM’s Sports Entertainment Complex.