You may not realise it, but it’s almost the end of the year. I looked at my phone today and it told me that it was halfway through December, which is usually around the time I shelve all my emotional rock music and quiet ballads and bust out the neighbour-destroying dance music. But this year, short of some Swedish dudes and a few Calvin Harris joints, there really hasn’t been the same kind of crazy techno Summer Of Love material that I’ve previously been accustomed to blaring at high volumes. Maybe that’s because neither the Presets nor Major Lazer (short of their excellent Mad Decent podcasts and that single) have released new material in the last 12 months, and the Justice record is actually a 70s rock album. Maybe it’s because all of the creative energy in the movement has been sucked up by commercial festival DJs and bastardised by every man and his dubstep. Which is why I thank the Gods for Rustie, who manages to be both things at once. His late-2011 debut LP, Glass Swords is one that comes highly recommended by everyone who is allowed to give such recommendations, including The Guardian’s music team, Passion Of The Weiss and my newly-naturalised English friend Jordan. It’s dubstep gorging on sugar. It’s womp-womp with double-time overtones. At this point in the game, it could well be the third book of the Bible.
Rustie is a Glaswegian producer who doesn’t try to be many things to all people, but rather a guy with some freaking unbelievable production skills and a hefty collection of speaker-blowing synth samples who doesn’t know how to do anything except get the party started. He uses some of the most unoriginal dance tricks in the book and yet somehow he manages to make them work so well. ’80s snare hits, MSTRKRFT handclaps, syncopated Chicago house bass, half-time beat drops, skittering hi-hats it’s all that stuff you’ve heard before but now it’s drinking Coca-Cola at 10pm on a Thursday and the cab doesn’t arrive for at least another half an hour. ‘Surph’ manages to take the extreme slo-mo approach that has made legends out of everyone from Skream to Zed’s Dead but make it attractive rather than aggressive. It helps that the part that precedes the drop is this kind of Chromeo-inspired funk beat that utilises those very same sounds that will soon strech out to oblivion. A lot of dubstep I find is great in the ‘bwoaar bwoaar’ ketamine-fuelled main section but usually lite and uninspiring in the lead-up. That might work at festivals but that doesn’t work for me, I want my kicks coming at me fast and continuously. And that’s what Rustie is good for.
Though it employs many techno standards, there’s some cute little secrets in ‘Surph’ that make Rustie a sensible choice for forward-thinking label Warp (home to Aphex Twin, Jamie Lidell and Battles among others) and they’re mainly ones you’re going to hear if you have a great set of headphones. Little voices creep out from the left and right channels, spinning in and out of aural focus while the main groove hits to core in such an unexpected way that I turned around suddenly when I was walking and listening to this the other day because I thought someone was talking to me from across the street. Woozy organs, deep bass drums and a face like a twelve year-old, Rustie knows what he wants from his music and piles it all in on top of itself until you can’t help but rise your fists, start pumping and smile like an absolute idiot. If that’s not the point of electronic music, I don’t know what is.
Rustie – ‘Surph’