And so the debut album from Warp’s other Glasgwegian protege is finally released upon the world, complete with dayglo imagery, prog-rock-meets-trance leanings and some of the finest drum work of the year.
Having initially turned heads with his eponymous debut EP ‘Jagz the Smack’ back in 2007, the work of Russell ‘Rustie’ Whyte has been an integral genome in the genetic make up of the UK’s electronic underground. Rustie brought colour, light and neon synths to the previously monochrome world of dubstep through his highly successful collaboration with the then breaking talent of Bristol’s Joker, and added grime, crunk and intricate trancey electronica elements to the mix with tracks like ‘Zig-Zag’ and ‘Bad Science’ (both released on Glasgow’s Wireblock Records, now subsumed into the North-of-the-border powerhouse that is Numbers).
Debuting on Warp late last year with the ‘Sunburst’ EP, we were treated to 5 tracks of rock-infused electronic wizardry that neatly sidestepped the shortlived ‘wonky’ tag whilst still outwardly remaining the work of the former G12 resident. ‘Glass Swords’ sees Rustie head further inward, guiding us through his unique universe, rushing from kitsch eighties themes, hard hitting sugar-coated grime, orchestral ambiance and futuristic r’n’b, all with admirable linearity and coherence.
Opener ‘Glass Swords’ cleanses the palette with a mixture of psychedelic keys, Peter Frampton-a-like guitars and rumbling bass atmospherics, coming across like a remixed (or ‘Re-Smaked’ as Rustie would have us call it) version of Tangerine Dream’s soundtrack for Ridley Scott’s ‘Legend’. Things continue with ‘Flash Back’ a seemingly apt homage to the production talents of the eighties soul sector (think Cameo’s Larry Blackmon with added bass weight), whilst tracks like ‘Surph’ and ‘Hover Traps’ are hummable pop hooks run through with rhythmic dancefloor foundations and pure trance synths.
Tracks like ‘City Star’ and the phenomenal ’After Light’ add some heavy ballin’ grit to proceedings, rolling along with stripped production, heaving bass stabs and that big room drum sound, whilst the hard hitting funk of ‘Cry Flames’ is just begging to have one of the pop-diva trinity of Beyonce, Lady Gaga or Rihanna all over it.
Rustie goes for the jugular with ‘Ultra Thizz’, the preceding single and all out champion of the album, mixing euphoric booty clapping snares, pitched up cartoon vocals, lightning bolt snares and an euphoric synth melody that wouldn’t go amiss in the credits of an early nineties science programme – hearing it dropped in a club in 2011 is a disorientating experience that shouldn’t work, but it really, really does.
In all, none of these influences seems out of place at any point, so complete is Whyte’s conviction, and so deeply aligned with his influences he appears to be. Like some of the bass community’s best albums this year (Kuedo’s ‘Serverant’, Zomby’s ‘Dedication’, Sully’s ‘Carrier’), Rustie ignores your expectations and moulds familiar motifs into something brand new, and exceedingly fresh. Filling the album with all manner of slick, streamlined edits and shimmering effects, ‘Glass Swords’ is a complete sound in its own right, a world concocted with a refreshing lack of concern for obscure reference points or on trend posturing. No doubt about it, this is a serious contender for album of the year.
‘Glass Swords’ is out now on Warp Records.