Glaswegian producer Russell Whyte’s 2011 album Glass Swords is one of the most incendiary and thrilling debut releases of recent memory. It’s a record of staggering confidence that catapulted Rustie into the public consciousness as one of electronic music’s brightest talents. Of course, following such a striking debut is often a much harder task. It would be extremely easy for Rustie to simply repackage the same maximalist box of tricks that worked so well on his debut. Instead, Green Language sees the producer opting for a more nuanced and considered approach. If Glass Swords was his grand opening statement, Green Language is the emergence of Rustie the artist.
There are a few notable differences on this second album as the bold and brash sonic assault of the debut is toned down slightly in favour of a wider and more varied sonic palette. The album’s opening track Workship provides an example of the pretty, fluttering, beatific quality that permeates many of the tracks here. The brush strokes are less broad as Rustie often opts for a rather more subtle approach. This is a theme repeated throughout the album, particularly on the intricate clock chime like tapestries of Paradise Stone and the soft splendour of tender instrumental Let’s Spiral.
A further point of difference on the album is the greater influence of vocalists and MCs. Hip-hop has often been a touchstone for Rustie and here you can explicitly hear him crafting beats tailor made for rhymes. The guest rappers he employs are distinct enough to bring something unique to each track. Newham Generals’ esteemed D Double E is sharp and direct on the aggressive jumped up beats of Up Down while frequent collaborator Danny Brown is at his unhinged and frantic best on the discordant trap influenced assault of the appropriately named Attak. Part of the appeal of Rustie’s music is that it takes influences from a melange of styles and approaches and mashes it up into something singular and distinctive. Tracks like Attak perfectly show off the producer’s skill and the essence of his futuristic music.
Elsewhere, there is a general softening of tone as on the bleepy He Hate Me featuring rap duo Gorgeous Children and the soulful RnB of Dream On, which perhaps features the best melodic hook on the album. There are, however, moments that drag ever so slightly Tempest meanders aimlessly and the RnB slow jam of Lost feat Redinho passes you by. It’s on moments like this that you feel something is missing. It’s that feeling of relentless, reckless abandon that informed his debut. Perhaps Rustie is intentionally holding something back, or maybe he has tired of the grandstanding maximalism approach. You wish he could combine both in one as he does successfully on the beautiful of A Glimpse, a track full of shimmering synth patterns aligned with some juddering drops. The addition of a tantalising shredding guitar riff with 10 seconds left is a nice touch.
The balance between soft focus and aural onslaught is a delicate one. As frequently blissful as the album is the best moments are the brilliantly idiosyncratic sonic symphonies like Raptor and Velcro. These are the moments where Rustie holds nothing back yet manages to cram more in than on his debut. Both tracks feature the kind of wonderfully weird yet supremely melodic hooks that only really Rustie can create.
Green Language is a brave album for Rustie to make. It’s an album that suggests he’s in this for the long haul and is not content with cheap thrills or gimmicks. It doesn’t hit the heights of his debut nor is it quite so thrilling; however, it is certainly an impressive work nonetheless.