Porter Robinson’s sophomore album Nurture is here. It comes seven years on from his breakthrough debut Worlds that forged a new path from the gritty electro of his late aughts and early 2010s and into a new era of dreamy, video game sci-fi worlds. That road has not been easy, one filled with self-doubt, stress and the pressure to create that made him feel stuck -- when in fact he just needed to look in a different direction. This created Virtual Self, his alias influenced by gabber, hardcore, trance and Eurodance (something that has always been a part of his music). It was after putting out an EP and doing several shows that things clicked and Nurture started to take shape.
The rollout for Nurture began early last year with the slower and soaring “Get Your Wish.” However after releasing “Something Comforting,” a song about dealing with your own struggles and the relief of having someone telling you comforting, the pandemic hit, throwing the release schedule in whack. He used this time to retool the album, adding new songs and rewriting some others.
The album is in part about the process of finding himself again. Even as he was feeling that pain of being engulfed in music and not getting much out of it, many of the songs still sound happy and sweet. That was in part a coping mechanism because it was all he could deal with at the time.
“I needed something that was so hopeful and kind of sweet. I just wanted these sweet major key songs as it was what made my heart soar and made me feel kind of teary,” Robinson explains to NME.
He gets to the heart of that with his semi autobiographical track “Musician” that describes a eureka moment of finding inspiration. With this album Porter wanted to move away from the big drops and harder sounds to writing lyrics and vocally driven choruses that aren’t as synth heavy. It still has some callbacks to the video game-like ideas of the past with tracks such as “do-re-mi-fa-so-la-ti-do.” It has folky, scattered video game sounds that mimic the cheery feeling of waking up on a Saturday morning as a kid to play Zelda.
Another theme on this album is love that Robinson found in the process of making during this. “Blossom” is tender love letter about that evolving in his life.
The album ends with two soaring, cheery and blissful tracks. His collaboration with Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs “Unfold” is the crown jewel of the album. It is quite rare for Robinson to collaborate with others on tracks and over the decade he has not missed on them. “Unfold” slots in right next two of his biggest tracks and collaborations with Mat Zo & Madeon respectively, “Easy” and “Shelter.”
Nurture ends with the hopeful “Trying To Feel Alive” that concludes with a message everyone going through a tough time can relate to -- “maybe it’s a gift I could recognize, trying to feel alive” as a bird chirps in the background.
Worlds was a way for Robinson to reach his electro music at the time into new worlds. It was his way of “escaping to faraway dreamlands, these video-game like universes,” he says to NME. Nurture is now his way of grounding himself. It is his connection with nature and ultimately himself.
Listen to Nurture below and get your copy here. He is doing the second digital edition of his Secret Sky Festival tomorrow with the likes of Baauer, Boys Noize and REZZ all performing. Get details on it here.