Tuesday, December 17th at Neumos
STG & Decibel proudly present…
with special guest
Doors at 8PM / 21+
925 E. Pike St. Seattle
Glasgow’s talent pool clearly runs deep, and if the city’s last few years of genre-busting electronic music have made anything remotely clear it’s that Rustie is one of the deep-fried kingdom’s crown jewels. Emerging with the rest of the multi-talented Numbers crew, and with only a handful of laser-guided releases to his name, his presence far outreaches his focused, evolving discography. Rightly mentioned in the same breath with many of the most innovative producers in the world, astute Pitchfork scribe Martin Clarke once described Rustie’s music “like a metaphor for living in intense digital excess” – something everyone should be able to relate to.
As is often the case, this digital excess also mirrors the excesses of the physical world, and so Rustie time travels for the cocaine-addled synthesizer washes and searing guitar tones of 1980’s pop, the cash-infused bombast of new-millennium R&B, the pit-of-your-stomach ecstasy high of the most classic rave memories and the bloodshot scowl of white-hot pirate radio broadcasts. In 2007, with a new generation of irreverent producers and artists seemingly simultaneously uploading their music to MySpace, Rustie’s ‘Jagz The Smack’ EP was a miniature revelation. In a swift five tracks, it managed to not only synthesize the tone of mid-decade electronic music, but also provided a danceable prediction for much of what would soon be called “UK bass music” (not to mention many other, far less eloquent, names).
It would take three more years to move through a string of now classic 12”s like ‘Zig-ZagBad Science’ and ‘Play Doe/Tempered’, his collaboration with Bristol’s mighty Joker. This unfettered run was capped by a string of essential remixes (or “Resmacks” in the parlance of Rustie) for the likes of Jamie Lidell, Kelis, The Big Pink and Nicki Minaj, leading into his debut EP for Warp, ‘Sunburst’. In another breathless five-track flash, ‘Sunburst’ amalgamated Rustie’s love for obscure Japanese prog-rock, 16-bit video game sonics and icy grime and Detroit techno heft into a fleeting vision of the future of rave music. Snare rolls ricocheted, synths undulated in hypercolor hues and the bass bubbled over, the stage was set.
Now after taking shape in the studio over the course of the past two years, ‘Glass Swords’ arrives, and as the otherworldly landscape of the album artwork suggests, it is epic and alien. Opening with the beguiling synth and guitar meditation that is the album’s title track, this is the last chance to take a deep breath before the rushing neon strains of bright melody and earthquake drums of ‘Flash Back’ and ‘Surph’. Next up ‘Hover Traps’ references the twitchy slap-bass and punchy electronic chords of 80’s funk masters like Midnight Star and Lamont Dozier while ‘City Star’ achieves the perfect balance of tunefulness and menace of the best grime productions. Through the middle of the record, a triptych of tracks present themselves as the model of the updated version of rave music Rustie has mastered. First single (and longtime club favorite) ‘Ultra Thizz’ is all breakdowns and build-ups structured around whip-crack snare drums, while ‘Death Mountain’ and ‘Cry Flames’ deal in the kind of soaring hooks and basement low-end that might very well leave permanent marks on your home stereo.
It is this singular and striking approach which encapsulate both the immediacy of pop and the rampant experimentation of underground electronic music that has set Rustie apart from a wide field of contemporaries and has captured the imaginations of so many in the months since it’s release. Fans range from like-minded artists such as Flying Lotus, Grimes and Gorillaz to media stalwarts NME, BBC Radio 1 and The Guardian, who recently decreed Glass Swords to be the finest debut album of the year. Far from stopping there, a new reworked version of ‘Surph’ recently swept across the UK’s airwaves courting hyperbole from Huw Stephens, Mary Ann Hobbs and Greg James to name but a few.
On Pete Tong’s legendary Essential Mix show, Rustie would deliver a penultimate addition to that shows canon, and one that would become the first Essential Mix ever to be granted an album review by supreme tastemakers Pitchfork (they called it “a joyously fun trip”). It is this distinct take on hard-charging dance music that has seen him convert the same audience as American EDM heavyweights like Diplo and Skrillex without sacrificing his deft, tuneful and at times introspective approach.
As the album draws into its closing tracks, skittish hooks and warm textures sweep in and out of focus without ever losing the warped narrative that effectively joins ‘Glass Swords’ into a startling cohesive whole. As an album, it’s one that doesn’t let up and demands repeat listens to fully appreciate the myriad hum-along melodies and wicked production u-turns, and don’t worry about the jittery over-caffeinated feeling you’ll have after listening…it’s to be expected.