Release Date: Mar 27, 2012
Record label: Downtown
Genre(s): Electronic, Garage, Club/Dance, Dubstep
This Brit beatmaker's productions ("Cockney Thug") and DJ'ing (Fabric Live 37,with Caspa) helped define early subwoofer-punishing dubstep well before Skrillex made it rage like new metal. But on Songs, rather than go full-on aggro (or even collaborate again with various Dirty Projectors, as on 2010's O.M.G.), dubstep is outweighed by effervescent house, pop, R&B, dancehall, even twostep garage – a style that preceded dubstep – with vocals ready to pop like champagne bubbles. Even when the lowend gets a workout, as on "Asda Car Park" and "Opium," the tone is party-friendly rather than glowering – good news for pop fans, less so for Korn devotees.
In 2012, with his second album for Mad Decent, Christopher Mercer, aka Rusko, intended to push the envelope on a genre that was increasingly becoming commonplace. When boiled down to its bare essence, Songs is a dubstep album with the wobbly bass bombs to prove it, but Rusko tackles 14 tracks with 14 vocalists and takes on all sorts of styles, including Top 40 pop, '90s house, grime, jungle, ragga, and even lovers rock reggae. Amidst all the territory covered, the underlying thread of dubstep is predictable, since Mercer's collaboration with Britney Spears helped introduce the genre to the mainstream -- but his decision to flip the script with what he calls his "anti-brostep" album doesn't seem like such a stretch once you realize how effectively he can mix a wealth of musical styles into 2-step.
Along with his DJ partner Caspa, the Leeds-born Christopher ‘[a]Rusko[/a]’ Mercer is pretty much the guy responsible for retooling dubstep from gloomy, dystopian tower-block music to Day-Glo bass wobblers with all the grim portent of a Bob The Builder digger. You can blame him for Skrillex, then – but dismiss his second album, ‘Songs’, only at your peril. Sure, there are notes of the dreaded brostep on display here, in the angry, flexing basslines of ‘Opium’ and ‘Asda Car Park’.
The producer doth protest too loudly. After a few years of letting that low end ride on UK dubstep labels like Dub Police and Sub Soldiers, Leeds-hailing first-wave wobbler Rusko released his debut LP, the intermittently interesting crossover attempt O.M.G.!, in May of 2010. Another, more culturally resonant bass-heavy release emerged that year: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, the breakout second EP from the ever-polarizing skronkmeister and recent triple-Grammy winner Skrillex.
The very definition of dubstep is very thinly spread over a lot of dance music these days. With Skrillex and Nero taking elements of dubstep and placing them in Pendulum-sized arrangements, they brought dubstep confidently to the upper regions of the charts and ‘dubstep’ has arguably only now became the household name fans were saying it had become after Magnetic Man released “I Need Air” in 2010. Yet despite all the European dancey synth chords appearing in dubstep over the last couple of years, there are still those producers, such as Benga, Skream, Burial, and Rusko, who generally stick to the original dubstep rulebook, but it’s tough for a purist to compete with someone who’s bass synth sounds like a thousand lions chasing a thousand screaming banshees, beneath a synth-chord progression taken from the trance music in the ‘90s.
Review Summary: Rusko in 2012: no apologies, no limitations, and certainly no shameAs the accidental yet apologetic founder of brostep, Rusko clearly has a few things to answer for, none least of which is a Grammy that now resides in the home of one Sonny Moore, awarded to him for certain electronic “contributions”. And yet it’s hard to really be mad at Rusko; surprisingly he’s so far managed to elude the overwhelming negativity that’s been slung the way of every American dubstep enthusiast to rise up in the wake of Rusko’s touring of the U. S.
Much like the literary figures of Frankenstein and his monster, the UK’s Rusko (born Christopher Mercer) was quickly appalled by the success of his dark creation. By sending a violent jolt through UK dubstep and exporting his “Woo Boost” worldwide in 2010, Rusko provoked the oft-criticized “brostep” subgenre. Now, two years and countless imitators later, Rusko continues to personally pump heightened levels of emotion into the beast, softening the rising trend of explosive drops and face-melting Jump Up into a collection of chilled reggae vibes and club-ready melodies on the 14-track Songs.
RUSKO plays Sound Academy May 8. See listing. Rating: NN Poor Rusko sounds like he's having a major identity crisis. I see why he'd feel guilty about his role in creating the frat-boy-friendly brostep offshoot of dubstep, but this definitely isn't the way to atone for his crimes. With Songs, the ….
Leeds-born DJ/producer Rusko has a scattershot approach to contemporary dance music. On his 2010 debut album, OMG!, his artillery included reggae, drum'n'bass, house and dubstep, in the form of big, attention-seeking basslines, but he only sporadically hit the target ("Woo Boost" was a thrilling exception). His focus is more squarely on Jamaican sounds second time round, but although Songs feels consistently summery, it lacks coherence: the diverse elements don't completely gel.
Dubstep producer tries aligning his output with Jamaican originals, with muddled results. Melissa Bradshaw 2012 Rusko’s attempt on this second album to realign his music with a Jamaican inheritance is something that some people might find problematic. Songs opens with a reference to King Tubby, and tries to make a point out of using reggae styles and vocalists.