Oliver Jones is a force to be reckoned with. The producer, mononymously known as Skream, throws down at any BPM. His catalog boasts everything from disco to house, techno, UK garage, drum’n’bass and dubstep—a genre for which he was one of the key innovators for at its birth. His sonic footprint extends outside of dance music as he has produced for guitar bands and pop stars. Certainly, Jones continues to relentlessly create new music that encompasses various textures, including rugged and emotive sounds. Today, September 15, the dance music heavyweight champion releases Skreamizm 8.
The LP takes audiophiles through every sound the tastemaker has been part of—even indie, seen in “The Track Flute” as it fuses the genre with grime. Angelic and passionate toplines, funky beats, driving basslines, wonky and celestial synths, affectional sounds, tinkering tunes and unfeigned spoken word are heard by listeners. The record pulls from where Jones was during the last Skreamizm release, and it incorporates his recent emotions, such as his feelings during the pandemic and when one of his best friends passed away.
The sound designer says he never planned to release another body of work, adding that he even refers to Skreamizm 8 as an LP to avoid the stress that comes with the term album. Skreamizm 8 is his first release in the Skreamizm series in 10 years. He adds that it’s the first time he “felt really content” with a body of work.
The album stays true to the series’ theme of being a snapshot moment of where he’s at in life. This is exemplified in “Roy the Boy,” a tune about the grief he experienced when a close friend passed away last year. The track features an audio note in the back, which is difficult to understand, but it’s clear that somebody is speaking. Jones says losing his friend is one of the biggest hurdles he has faced in life.
“Thinking of You” started as a voice note about the future, initially made for his kids during lockdown. The producer says the phone audio file wasn’t created to be part of a song. After deciding to add it to a track, he intended to use somebody else’s voice, but he didn’t think it was as heartfelt. His spoken word is the first time his voice has been used as a song.
“[My son] was leaving to go into high school, and it was a note basically telling him that everything would be all right. Your friends at your school probably might not necessarily be your friends forever, but that’s okay—it’s just part of the journey,” Jones says. “The first time I played it to people, they actually cried. It’s quite a beautiful record when the sentiment is there. I’m okay with [my voice] in it because I believe in the words, and I remember the emotion that I was feeling when I recorded it.”
According to Jones, the whole body of work is his favorite record he has ever produced. He says that is a big statement because his first album, Skream!, catapulted him to stardom. Off Skreamizm 8, “Thinking of You” has the most sentimental value for the producer, and “My Body” is his best production to date, he says. The UK artist adds that he thought he would only release singles following his last three albums—two of which were solo LPs, and one was a collaborative album.
“It’s the first body of work I feel in quite a long time that I’m happy to release,” Jones says.
Indeed, Skreamizm 8 proves to be a masterfully produced LP, one of the many notable records in Jones’ catalog. Having dropped his self-titled debut album before he’d even hit his twenties demonstrates how Jones has been among the top of his class since his early years. His success at such a young age, his hand in trailblazing dubstep with the help of Benga, his impressive sonic growth as an artist and his range of sounds show that he is a true icon within the world of dance music.