Rustie - Green Language

by Jack Reid

So, after a resplendent and shimmering debut album (Glass Swords), Rustie is back. Peddling a brand of electronic fizziness so joyful and bright you could scarcely believe he’s Glaswegian, Rustie has been gaining more and more notoriety amongst those circles who really don’t mind whether their music tastes fit into genre boxes. Green Language, Rustie’s sophomore long play, has landed.

The first two tracks, Workship and A Glimpse, form a real bubbling introduction to this new offering. Compositing denser and more complex textures than ever before, these tracks seem to constantly rise and rise, with energy and joy never seeming to plateau. It is with Raptor that we get the first real ‘full’ song. Raptor starts with the typically videogame-y twinkling arpeggios that sound all at once lo-fi and crystalline, not much unlike the album artwork from Glass Swords. Soon though, we have a pumping kick and fizzy synth line, reminiscent of Death Mountain in more ways than one. These happy hardcore flavours aren’t lost those listeners that are just old enough to have heard the last swills of this hyperactive trend in EDM. Soon though, the song reaches a drop and that synth line is underpinned, not by the pumping kicks of happy hardcore, but by an unmistakable trap beat. It’s silly, fun and… what’s the word, rambunctious?

Paradise Stone came as a complete shock to me. Whilst still living in the same land of polished 8-bit textures, this track has real sonic depth and a thoughtful composition. The spacious mallet sounds (that I’m such a sucker for) have a truly contemplative melody which evolves surprisingly and pleasantly. There’s a pathos and calm that I’ve simply never heard from Rustie before. It’s certainly a new avenue for the Scotsman, yet it seems as though he’s fully ready to ignore it elsewhere.

Next up was Up Down featuring D Double E. After the pleasant surprise of the former track, I really wish that this track hadn’t appeared on the album, at least not so jarringly after Paradise Stone. With a really uninspired verse from D Double E and a perfectly passable trap beat, there’s nothing particularly remarkable about this track. It’s upsetting, because whilst it’s not a terrible song by any measure, it’s just not up to snuff with the bravery of exploration that I’m used to on Rustie’s album tracks. This should have been billed as Up Down (prod. Rustie) by D Double E, and it shouldn’t have appeared on the album. Instead, I have to suffer through the moronic melody of “What goes up, must come down,” that is stuck in the back of my head.

Attak featuring Danny Brown is Rustie’s second effort on the album, at producing what is basically a trap-infused grime sound (though Attak isn’t nearly as dull as Up Down, lyrically or musically). With a really distinctive synth trill for a hook and some truly inspired work linking the trap kicks with the baseline melody, there’s something to enjoy here. Still though, it’s a darkness that I’m really not looking for in Rustie. Rustie isn’t best enjoyed when he’s having to cut out the middle of his enormous musical textures to make room for a vocal, especially when that vocal is so dull and yet again, misogynistic: “I ain’t gotta say shit, tell your bitch to suck my dick”… Great contribution to the human race there, Danny Brown.

We’re back on track with Tempest though, to some extent. Another piece that sounds like an interlude, Tempest doesn’t quite have the same impact as Paradise Stone. The same goes, to some extent, for He Hate Me featuring Gorgeous Children. Like Tempest, the track sounds loose and a little listless, but the vocal actually augments the track to some extent in this case. It ties things together enough for it to come off as a kind of stoned slow jam. Velcro is a percussive and sassy treat. The track is put together in such an organic structure that it really sounds like it is created and built upon as it goes, until its really fun final form at around the minute and half mark, whilst still playing with the same elements.

Lost showcases, for the the first time since his debut, Rustie’s great talent for processing vocals to really extract extra feeling out of them. Redinho’s RnB refrains are given extra vulnerability with expertly handled tremolo and vocoding, and combined with some really tight beat production from Rustie, it results in a really catchy all-round package. Acting as a female counterpoint in this pair of RnB jams at the tail of the album, Dream On combines a sugar sweet 00s style vocal with whining and crooning synths, delivered with typically Rustie bombast. However, the vocal isn’t treated with such close care as in Lost, and it shows.

It’s always a bold choice to end your album on the titular track, especially when it’s a grand mood-setting outerlude. Rustie nails it though. There’s a rainforest so subtle you could mistake it for ambient noise, and a bouncing, plinking texture that drifts back and forth from piano to harp and back again as it follows the same pattern up and down the scales. It’s a surprisingly delicate piece from such a bombastic artist. However, it reveals something that I’ve always suspected about Rustie; to be able to cram so much texture into a track as he does in his more hyperactive efforts, you must have a real mastery of composition and timbre. And darn it if he doesn’t.