Rustie Glass Swords Review

Released 2011.  

BBC Review

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. That's largely down to his knack for assimilating new influences into his music without diminishing what's already present, a technique he's distilled down to its essence on debut album Glass Swords.

Glass Swords, however, is undeniably self-indulgent. Effectively the sound of Web 2.0 information overload set to music, it finds Russell Whyte categorically refusing to reduce the breadth of his tastes into a manageable, coherent vision. Instead he simply piles everything on top of each other, often jamming five or six recognisable influences into a single four-minute track. The chemical reactions this process generates are chaotic, exhausting and a thrill to behold, as tiny signifiers of different genres lurch to the surface for a few seconds at a time before being swept away in the rush. The glossy synths and massive drum rolls of Timbaland RnB are present, as is the booming percussion of dirty south hip hop, and buried elsewhere in the melee it’s easy to detect fragments of dubstep, UK garage, classic Detroit techno and trance.

Album highlight Ultra Thizz is among the messiest of these fusions: it distends a trance-like synth riff until it takes on grotesque characteristics, before ramping up the tempo to an almost unbearable level. Through headphones it’s intense enough; its effect on a crowd is little short of electrifying, sending a flurry of limbs skyward as if someone’s passed several thousand volts across the dancefloor.

Like friend and fellow member of Glasgow’s Numbers collective Hudson Mohawke, Rustie’s music can be a little difficult to handle. Like Mohawke’s album Butter, the all-pervasive influence on Glass Swords is prog rock – both in the screaming guitar-style solos that cut though several of its tracks and in its commitment to pure, unfettered excess. Rustie’s vision, though, is far more successful in integrating its consistent elements into a coherent and involving listen. Just as with the rest of his music, Glass Swords shows just the right amount of restraint to prevent total disarray. Even if the album weren’t half as much fun as it is, that feat would be worthy of celebration in itself.

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