Overdue debut from dubstep lynchpin time-travels for inspiration.
Noel Gardner 2010-05-28
Although Christopher Mercer, better known as Rusko, has only been an active figure on the dubstep scene for about three years, both he and the scene in general have operated at such a pace that this debut album feels wildly overdue. Furthermore, it drops at a time when many notable figures associated with dubstep are shifting away from the most commonly associated tropes of the genre – obscenely deep-descending basslines, or ‘wobblers’, resolute 140bpm tempos and sinister film samples – towards more rhythmically elastic and less-masculine stylings. As one of dubstep's biggest successes, Rusko tends to be invoked as an example of how its heart has shrivelled as its commercial cachet has increased.
So it's interesting to note that O.M.G.! frequently finds the Yorkshireman attempting to step outside his self-created reputation for a goonish formula. This isn't to say that he doesn't often do precisely what's expected of him. Woo Boost, the opening track and recent single, has doubtless proved a dancefloor detonator already, but brings not a single new idea to the table. Elsewhere, it's easy to identify ways in which this hour-long album could have been edited: Scareware is simplistic cheese, and wouldn’t be missed.
Rusko didn't get where he is today by being unskilled and unversatile, though. Hold On, a swish if forceful slab of early 00s-style breakbeat garage, features the unlikely choice of Amber Coffman from Dirty Projectors supplying airy vocals; she sounds as given to this as to that band's hybrid indie, and is O.M.G.!'s most fruitful guest. Further on, Rusko steps back another decade again: Kumon Kumon's spirit is closest to the pitched-up hardcore rave that dominated the early 90s (and had would-be aesthetes of electronic music holding their noses in much the same way 'wobbler' dubstep does in 2010), while the prosaically-titled Raver's Special weds hyperactive house piano to Daft Punk-recalling vocoder vox.
O.M.G.!, while a bitty and roughshod album, features deviations from type suggesting that Mercer will go on to do more for dubstep than get it pumping from student nightclubs and tricked-out hatchbacks.