Release Date: Nov 6, 2015
Record label: Warp
Around 2007 or 2008, the “purple” sound exploded music. Dubstep was long covered in a veneer of smoggy metallic/industrial coating and unmelodic wobbles, but its expansion into “purple” made it more liquid and brightly hued. UK Grime had preceded it with angular LFO filched from 8 bit modules, but remained a largely parochial and insular affair, though it would eventually have a huge effect on trailblazing American MCs like Danny Brown and Le1f as well as the greater dance music scene.
Chucked online with no warning, and accompanied by a low-res selfie press shot, Glaswegian musician Russell “Rustie” Whyte’s third album feels suitably instinctive and playful. Like fellow Scot Hudson Mohawke, Whyte’s focus is mainly on creating maximalist dance music, constantly unleashing turbo-charged synth riffs that make the songs judder and shake. Eschewing guest vocalists, he somehow gets away with weaving in a dolphin sample on the happy hardcore of First Mythz, while the excellent Big Catzz is a delirious rush of candy-coated dance pop that makes you want to bounce off the walls.
The shores of consciousness, a term you’ve likely heard before but does not have a hard etymology, is not an idea so much as a metaphor — and, honestly, a pretty overused one — for the intersection of the surface and subterranean parts of your brain. It’s represented as a literal beach in Haruki Murakami’s existential novel Kafka on the Shore and it’s the alternate universe where Jodie Foster talks to her dead father in Contact, among other places in pop culture and instructional meditation pamphlets. It’s also where Rustie’s breathtaking supernova of a third album, EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE, opens.
It's strange to think that Rustie's debut album came out only four years ago; so much has changed since in its wake. When Glass Swords appeared, in the fall of 2011, it was measured primarily against dubstep's yardstick, praised in part for how far it had stretched the limits of that form. Nobody talks about dubstep any more. These days, as far as swaggering, hard-knuckled electronic music goes, trap rules the roost—thanks in no small part to Glass Swords, which along with Hudson Mohawke and AraabMuzik proved that Southern rap beats plus needle-nosed synths could make for an even more invigorating rave soundtrack than dubstep did.
Less than a month ago, Scotland-bred Rustie was checking in from the hospital bed. There, he would produce “160 Hospital Riddim”, and attached to the Soundcloud embed was a simple yet powerful message: “quick beat i made after waking up in hospital. glad to be alive so u can all have it for free.” In those last 12 words, Rustie summed up the psyche that drives his influential career.
Few dance artists have found the sweet spot between EDM's good-time blare and underground dance's cooler sonic pathways quite the way Rustie has. The Glasgow DJ-producer born Russell Whyte has spent close to a decade turning heads, from his wiggy deconstruction of Zomby's "Spliff Dub" in 2009 to spinning a BBC Essential Mix that introduced the world to Baauer's "Harlem Shake" a year before its 2013 ascent to Number One. But he's best known for albums – 2011's Glass Swords and last year's Green Language – that refract a short lifetime of listening to electronic club music into chewy, prismatically layered tunes.
Rustie's last album, Green Language, was caught between worlds. Big-name vocal collaborations sat uneasily with churchy ambient; shots at the charts with more eccentric moments. He's since said that it was "too A&Red," and in a recent interview he talked about being "pulled in two directions" by the people around him. His next LP, released with minimal press and an iPhone photo for a cover, aims to set things straight.EVENIFYOUDONTBELIEVE returns to the simplest ingredients of Rustie's music.
Euphoria is a tricky one. It’s not an emotion that can be easily communicated, let alone shared. A smile or laugh of happiness can make those around us feel more at ease, while a scowl or frown of anger can set these same people on edge, even if the emotional gap between the senders and receivers of these more mundane affective states is never completely bridged.
Rustie’s last album, 2014’s ‘Green Language’, was a curious but disappointing beast. While Glasgow producer Russell Whyte’s excellent 2011 debut ‘Glass Swords’ had shown that he could distill sources as disparate as trance, dubstep and R&B into one distinctively hyperactive whole, ‘Green Language’ was uneven and too respectful of genres Rustie had previously bent to his will.Rustie himself realised this, claiming on Twitter that ‘Green Language’ had been “too A&Red”, as outside forces pulled him in different musical directions. The surprise-release ‘EVENIFUDONTBELIEVE’ is an emphatic reaction.
Dropping the surprise album and eschewing the traditional slow release build up process may seem the preserve household name artists, but with third LP EVENIFIDONTBELIEVE Rustie shows it can also be undertaken by those on the fringes of mainstream culture. It’s safe to say that with the explosion of EDM the musical landscape has changed dramatically in the four years following the release of his debut Glass Swords, but Glaswegian producer Russell Whyte still treads a sonic path that can only be described as maximal in its intentions. His second album Green Language saw collaborations with vocalists such as D Double E, Danny Brown and Redinho, but this time round the guest spots have been stripped back to the extent that there no mates ready and primed to supply lyrics.