Review: Rustie, Green Language

Rustie's risks pay off on his triumphant sophomore album.
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Rustie's risks pay off on his triumphant sophomore album.
rustie green language


opinion byAUSTIN REED

On Friday, June 20th, Scottish-born producer/virtuoso Rustie dropped “Raptor,” a sonic weapon of nuclear metrics that officially heralded the launch of his sophomore LP Green Language. It was decidedly the best moment of that particular Friday.

Dropping “Raptor” first was a very well orchestrated move. Whether he knew it or not at the time, Rustie did a couple things, here: For starters, he reminded us of the incontrovertible damage his tracks can inflict. Alongside pretty much every other track on debut LP Glass Swords, “After Light,” (featuring an incendiary vocal hook courtesy of Aluna Francis), “Ultra Thizz,” and “Surph” effaced expectations by flaunting a near-absurd attention to detail. Melodic synth glints were co-opted into staccato bass layers. Downbeat bass rumbles careered forward with only just enough control. Even the more minute details were cultivated with the utmost care. By almost no measurable standard, Rustie introduced an unprecedented technique in electronic music, and “Raptor” was an apt mnemonic.

But perhaps more importantly, he exposed the giant-stride ground he has covered over the past three years. Glass Swords was provocative, but “Raptor” was emotional. And it’s that same breathing, brooding emotion that elevates most of Green Language to soaring heights.

At its core, Language moves in calculated waves. Opening tracks “Workship” and “A Glimpse” operate almost exclusively as perfectly penned build-ups to “Raptor” which, bafflingly, only seems to sound better with a two-track, four-minute introduction. Middle-ground tracks like “Paradise Stone” and “Tempest” boast Rustie’s newfound affinity for lo-fi fade-ins and 90’s-era-shoegaze melodic hooks, while still offering a lead-in to more ground-shattering tracks “Up Down” and “He Hate Me,” respectively.

But “Dream On,” one of the most pivotal moments of the album, stunts the pattern and unearths those lush emotional elements that qualify Language’s heroism. R&B wonder-woman Muhsinah delivers an out-of-control vocal performance that at-once makes “Dream On” viscerally expository and guiltlessly catchy. Realistically, it’s only a few steps shy of radio-ready. Despite being one of Language’s final tracks, it drastically reforms the landscape of the entire album with vilifying grace and facility.

In fact, “Dream On” would be Green Language’s best track if Danny Brown hadn’t gotten involved. Because “Attak”... I mean, Jesus.

This was to be expected. From Rustie’s opening tornado-siren synth waves to Brown’s ferocity-on-demand, “Attak” functions on an altogether higher plane than the rest of Language. In a lot of ways, it hits all the same nerves that were ravaged by “Side B [Dope Song],” a Rustie-produced track featured on Brown’s tremendous 2013 LP OldDespite my reputation for throwing the word “trap” around a little too frivolously, “Attak” positions Rustie as a formidable threat in the trap game. It clocks in at just over three minutes long, but the hook and thump will resonate for way longer than that.

Probably Rustie’s most coveted gift is his ability to fluently understand his surroundings without ever totally disappearing into them. In fact, the only possible downside to Language is “Up Down,” a track that (potentially) disappoints because of an ever-so-slight resemblance to trap music’s more recognizable contributions.

The very first moments of “Dream On” feature Muhsinah nonchalantly asserting, “I don’t ask; I just go for it. / And I don’t care who sees.” It’s funny, because for as deep and exploratory and grimy and lyrical and squeeze-your-eyes-shut soulful as they may be, each second thereafter is merely an accessory to those first words you hear out of Muhsinah’s mouth. It’s powerfully progressive, but it’s also indicative of Rustie’s approach. On Glass Swords, we witnessed new intricacy and faultless awareness through the eyes of a burgeoning producer. But on Green Language, we witness risks. We listen anxiously as Rustie bets a Brinks truck on his emotional wherewithal, and that bet pays out exponentially. B+