The 10 Best 90’s Dub Mixes, according to Theo Kottis
Following on the heels of ‘Satin Panthers’, the recent EP from fellow Glaswegian producer and LuckyMe collaborator Hudson Mohawke, Rustie’s first album proper is a similarly explosive, immersive, star-spangled knockout of a record that can be filed as a companion piece to HudMo’s 2009 debut Butter. While they both share a taste for no-genres-barred maximalism, cascading ’80s synths, ass-wobbling bass and warped lady-vox, on Glass Swords Rustie sees HudMo’s game and raises him, shrugging off the call of the dancefloor in favour of a personal voyage to the weirdest outer limits of timbre, melody, rhythm, texture and memory. And to think they called him dubstep.
Rather than seeming cold and artificial this cut-glass digitalism refracts into an infinity of animated virtual worlds, polygon landscapes and platform games in glorious 8-bit colour.
‘Glass Swords’ gleefully tests your mettle from start to finish. It bulges, it strains, it stretches back and slaps you around with a glossary of shameless retro-funk-pop elements – hollowed out drums, G-funk squelch, pulsing house beats, dirty slap bass and even that horrifying vocal “ooh” last heard all over James Horner’s score for Titanic. The biting clarity of each sound builds a world that seems purely, deliberately digital – a bravely un-trendy move in a climate of analogue reverence, yet rather than seeming cold and artificial this cut-glass digitalism refracts into an infinity of animated virtual worlds, polygon landscapes and platform games in glorious 8-bit colour.
Take Hover Traps, one of the more testing tracks on the album – the queasy slickness of the slap bass riff comes off like an academic exercise in ironic listening right until the rave build-up drops and your ears greedily collect a thousand bonus points on the way up to the next level. The Glasgow sound has always worn its love for both happy hardcore and video games on its sleeve, so for Rustie at least there is little irony involved in re-processing those two influences into lightning-fast, super-melodic sunbursts of smiley faces and golden triangles. Whether every eager listener will take to it quite as easily is another matter – the relentless switching up and restless creativity all over ‘Glass Swords’ carries the risk of synaesthetic fatigue over 40 minutes, but most tracks have wisely been cropped into palatable three-minute chunks.
The album as it stands is a monument to all things eclectic, virtual, mashed-up and magical in electronic music in 2011
Most of all, this a record by someone who listens to an awful lot of records – rave classics from before he was born, P-funk, G-funk, soul funk, dirty south hip hop and the tastes of his contemporaries too, from the upfront percussion of Hessle Audio and Numbers affiliates to the in-your-face jumped-up antics of Night Slugs. But the result of splicing all these sounds is an album that’s far less concerned with the dancefloor than with its own experimentation, each booty-bumping reference placed at an artful remove from its origins to make an electronic prog-fusion record more akin to those far out albums of the ‘70s with new age moonscapes on the sleeve. If you think that’s facetious, just take a look at the artwork Rustie’s chosen.
While stand-out tracks like Surph (washed-out rave riding a sleazy funk wave) and Ultra Thizz (guns blazing heavy business) could be making their way into a DJ set near you, the album as it stands is a monument to all things eclectic, virtual, mashed-up and magical in electronic music in 2011. It’s an unexpectedly emotive love letter to a youth spent in front of screens and speakers, both as cheeky homage and deadly serious paean to the bestest beats that ever shook the floor.