Rustie’s last album, Glass Swords, dropped like a glitter bomb back in 2011, thrusting the talented Glaswegian to the front of the pack when it came to glistening, color-saturated takes on dance music. It was also proof that, unlike many of his peers, he could manage a seriously impressive full-length album. It was a triumph that ignited his career. Since then, the stunning double A-side “Slasher/Triadzz,” released on UK dance label Numbers, only served to cement his reputation and significantly increase the anticipation surrounding his second full-length album on Warp Records.
Now it’s here, and Green Language is in truth a tricky one. The ingredients are all present, but the stew undoubtedly tastes different. In trying to create something a little more personal, parts of this album feel oddly introverted or undercooked, and it is sprinkled with tangents and experiments that produce wildly varying results. Yet despite its flaws, I found plenty to recommend in my review of Green Language.
The album opens with what is essentially one long tease before the first proper song erupts. “A Glimpse” even ends with an electric guitar that seems to be a bridge to a huge climax before mischievously fading out, and then it happens. “Raptor” feels like another success in Rustie’s ongoing mission to provide his listeners with the aural equivalent of Super Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road level, but it is also a glorious dance floor banger and an explosion of adrenaline. He repeats the trick later on the album with the Miami Vice-bounce of “Velcro.”
Green Language is also littered with collaborations, some of which simply don’t come together. D Double E sounds repetitive and forced on “Up Down” despite a meaty backdrop, while Redinho’s voice box performance on “Lost” just never gets going. But the one collaboration that does work is simply incredible.
Danny Brown is on top of his game on “Attak,” his manic delivery and tongue-twisting rhymes accompanied by the rare kind of bass drop that makes the hairs stand on end. He’s pulled that off before, particularly on older single “Ultra Thizz,” but this particular combination of rapper and producer (they worked together on Danny Brown’s album last year as well) has that kind of Missy Elliott/Timbaland vibe of a pair that absolutely brings out the best in each other.
The less eye-catching but nevertheless intriguing interludes on Green Language, such as the twinkling charms of “Paradise Stone,” would work better if the track listing was a little more consistent, but they remain proof of Rustie’s ability to come at his sound from ever more intriguing angles. The final few tracks, beginning with “Dream On,” also suffer from the inconsistency that has gone before, but taken in isolation, they are a fascinating run of music with which to end the album.
So what conclusion can be drawn from Green Language? On the one hand, its lack of cohesion and variable quality can make it a frustrating listen, even though Rustie’s production is always agreeable (his skill is evident as much in what he leaves out as what he includes). On the other hand, the best music on the album is absolutely thrilling, and in those moments he still sounds like a game-changer on Warp’s hugely exciting roster. Some of these songs will be lighting up dance floors for the next couple of years.
Following up on a near-perfect debut is always tricky, but Rustie is a long, long way from being a spent force.
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