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Rustie
Green Language Christian Eede , September 10th, 2014 08:43

"Hyper", "maximalist", "Day-Glo": the same words have perpetually popped up to describe the music of Glasgow's Russell Whyte, aka Rustie, ever since the release of 2011's Glass Swords. Alongside 2013's Triadzz / Slasherr EP on Numbers these two releases did much to spin this narrative around Rustie as a producer relied upon solely for unashamed bangers that induced euphoric hands-in-the-air and flailing limbs on the dancefloor. However, with that territory comes the potential accusation that Whyte is just a one trick pony, sitting on the outskirts of the wholly unironic EDM scene.

This is a problem Whyte was seemingly aware of himself, recently reflecting on his debut album by telling Pitchfork that he "was taking the piss with kitsch sounds and over-the-top silliness". In that same interview, he marks out its successor as "something different and more serious". That intention is certainly audible on Green Language, for better or worse. Rustie pushes into unfamiliar terrain, simultaneously forcing home the grand heights of its predecessor alongside an abundance of understated interludes and a concept rooted in nature that extends to the crisp, icy artwork.

In mythology, "Green language" refers to the language of the birds. Whyte's comment on the title that he "liked the idea of a natural language that doesn't require your mind" seemingly points towards a desire for the listener not to over-analyse or seek universal meanings in his music. However, the references to mythology, as well as the scattered allusions to birds contained within, suggest the contrary, that Green Language is in fact an album with an intended concept that requires the listener's mind. The problem is, that in order to establish this plot, the recurrent smatterings of birdsong, as well as the squawks skilfully put to use as a melodic tool on the D Double E-featuring 'Up Down', ultimately feel like an afterthought – an instrument simply employed to tie together the scattered sounds at odds with each other through much of Green Language's 37 minutes.

Openers 'Workship' and 'A Glimpse' appear as imposing introductions establishing a rather majestic course. The latter settles in with glimmering arpeggios and thumps of bass before fading out after two minutes into the recurring birdsong. Just when you think it's all over, a fuzzy, pedal-affected guitar rises from nothing and then, in 15 seconds, it really is all over. It's a simple, but shrewd hark back to the playfulness of Rustie's previous effort, though it, like so many of the two-or-so minute interludes littered throughout Green Language ('Paradise Stone', 'Tempest', 'Let's Spiral'), leaves you craving more, wanting to experience that next level reached on the dizzying summits of past tracks like 'Slasherr' and 'Ultra Thizz'. That is not to say though that it is an album void of high energy dancefloor knockouts. 'Raptor' intensifies more and more, ramping up momentum with stabs of happy hardcore and rattling snares sitting above sound system-punishing smacks of bass. 'Velcro' takes on a more bouncy form, synths lifted straight out of an arcade game soundtrack and metallic beats reminiscent of the aforementioned 'Slasherr'.

Where Glass Swords initially saw Rustie carving out his vision solo (before reworked versions of 'Surph' and 'After Light' featuring Nightwave and AlunaGeorge respectively were added), his follow-up actually goes bolder, with a more prominent cast of guest vocalists. When it works, Green Language truly finds its footing. The Muhsinah-featuring 'Dream On' sees a reprise of the neon synths that punctuated much of Glass Swords as Rustie settles into a casual R&B flair, exploring his capacity for accessible pop. On 'Attak', the buoyancy of Danny Brown's unmistakeable, warp-speed flow meets the pummelling bass hits and dizzy snares that have punctuated so many of Whyte's finest moments, coming off even more tailored to Brown's needs than any of the Rustie-indebted instrumentals on the former's Old, released last year. It may be a case of "we've heard it all before", but does it matter when it was so good the first time round? However, other alliances fail to meet their potential, most notably 'Up Down' with D Double E's forgettable, hackneyed play on its title ("what goes up, must come down") quickly growing wearying, especially over an equally lacklustre beat. Meanwhile, Redinho's talkbox vocals on 'Lost' regrettably come off more Chromeo than Discovery-era Daft Punk, despite Rustie's complementary "trap" meets G-funk backing.

It would certainly be unfair to judge Green Language on the basis of not being its predecessor, but it is largely an album that, despite finding acmes in doing what Rustie does best, has more troughs than peaks, and lacks the impish, distinctive touches that made Glass Swords such a striking listen. The opposing visions glimpsed during its running time, of party-pleasing and toe-dipping experimentalism, result in a disjointed listen and the interludes merely dissolve before they can find their full potential. Ultimately, Green Language leaves behind it a simple shrug and a wandering thought of what could have been.

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