Release Date: Oct 10, 2011
Record label: Warp
Genre(s): Electronic, Pop/Rock, Club/Dance, Dubstep, IDM, Left-Field Hip-Hop
On the cover of Glass Swords, the debut album by Glasgow's newest dance wunderkind, Rustie, two sunlit space crystals meet at an angle. And like beams of light through prisms, his music - a nebulous knot of synth, bass and animated rhythms - reaches into a multi-dimensional plane. An array of millennial influences infiltrate Rustie's ravey, soaring compositions: primitive gaming melodies, proggy kitsch, patches of aggressive hi-hats, pitch-shifted vocal yelps, Timbalandish squelch and the emotive atmospherics of IDM.
Since his 2007 debut, this young Glaswegian producer’s peak-time club spin on mainstream R&B and rap has, in an intrepid fashion, grown increasingly hyperactive, thrill-oriented, and indulgent. On Glass Swords, Rustie continues to integrate the currently hip and terminally unhip -- garish probes of ‘80s synth rock, beaten-to-a-pulp dance-pop, ‘90s rave, and bass music, to name four of several drawing points -- all for the sake of a rush. Integrate is a light way of putting it, though; the method is more like slathering, layer after layer, with no concern for restraint or tastefulness, though each track is shaped into a songlike structure.
I’m sure I’m not the only one with a friend who just doesn’t like electronic music. There are plenty of these folk about, who praise the guitar like it’s some kind of stringed deity and become enraged by even the thought of a track dependent on beats and bloops. They claim the music of machines has no soul. My attempts to convert such people have previously relied on poncey statements about nostalgia-inducing graininess or the infinite, wonderful possibilities afforded by sampling.
Twenty years ago, Warp released Frequencies, the debut album by LFO, a duo who'd come up in the North England rave scene and scored an unexpected UK chart hit with their bold and brutal eponymous bleep techno single. This year, Warp releases Glass Swords, the debut album by Rustie, a young Glasgow producer who's come up in the protean post-dubstep scene and has yet to rough up the mainstream. (Give him time, though, especially if he catches the ear of a diva.) Most of the vinyl-only singles by LFO's revolutionary contemporaries are now sadly forgotten.
Glass Swords seems set on out-gauching a league of contemporaries who are beginning to add completely unfashionable genre signifiers to their music. You don't get much more direct than "Hover Traps," whose slap bass (like it was taken right off of Seinfeld) is quickly rendered irrelevant in the face of the massive flashes of fuzzy white light, enough to invoke memories of Above & Beyond or ATB's heyday. Indeed, on several tracks Rustie prefers the tried-and-tested trance trick of snare rolls and epic build-ups ("After Light") that explode into tacky fireworks.But it doesn't end there.
The Glaswegian party stamina is legendary, and it's this insatiable appetite for raving that propels the debut album from a lynchpin of the city's music scene, Russell Whyte, aka Rustie. Glass Swords is almost entirely composed of dancefloor highs, a series of those hands-in-the-air peak-time moments that stick in the memory long after the rest of the night has turned hazy. Rustie constantly chases the next thrill, with rhythmic switch-ups and vivid synths firing in all directions as the album twists, turns and veers off at tangents; echoes of everything from early 90s rave and booty bass to Ginuwine's Pony (the belching bass of the aptly titled Ultra Thizz) indicate his own club tutelage.
Integrates myriad elements into a coherent and involving listen. Rory Gibb 2011 Over the course of only four years, Rustie has already churned through a whole range of different musical forms. Impressively, none so far have felt like missteps. Even as the aquatic hip hop of early EP Jagz the Smack dissolved into the out-there, razor-edged psychedelia of Zig-Zag and Bad Science, the Glasgow-based producer never overstepped the mark into self-indulgent excess.
There was a point in 2007 when it seemed that blogs, Myspace and YouTube had finally toppled the old music economy and established the (instant, archival) system we move within now. Everything was catalogued, every style revived, every hidden treasure common currency; we'd officially heard it all. How could a musician escape from the luxury trap? Faced with forbidding plenitude, they could only pastiche the already-pastiched, mix every colour together to produce a murky mess, or retreat into a tasteful cul-de-sac in search of breathing space.