Rustie – Glass Swords

It’s a silly concept really, a sword made out of glass, or maybe I’m missing a trick. A weapon that uses the power of refraction to inflict its damage. Anyway, this discussion is deflecting me (sorry, no more tenuous light based physics jokes) from the purpose of this post. As you may have guessed, I wanted to share with you my thoughts on the debut full length release from one of Glasgow’s golden group of producer/DJs who have been slowly but very confidently infiltrating our ears with their heavily hip-hop influenced, electronic sounds; Rustie.


I was moved in a big way earlier this year by the Satin Panthers release from label mate Hudson Mohawke with it’s equal mix of delicateness and dirt. Rustie’s Glass Swords certainly continues in the same vein.

The album doesn’t lead with its strongest tracks, and by doing this you find yourself getting more hyped as you journey through, enticing you to switch the vinyl back to the A-side and ride it out again. The fish hook that reeled me in was the back to back power houses of Ultra Thizz and Death Mountain. The former flips you from frantic fist pumps to a half time shuffle in the blink of a bar, all 808s, power synth stab riffs and mouthed bass. Death Mountain comes in with what sounds like a trance influenced orchestral string section juiced on Four Loko and played in reverse, then breaking down over a light speed tuned drum roll before returning to the almost trademark mouth bass riff complemented with a pan pipe affected high vocal part.

There’s mellow parts too, like the roller dub step shuffle feel of After Light. I say mellow, this song GOES OFF just after the two minute mark. It’s as if a whole Rustie DJ set has been layered into one track; easing you in with a filtered intro, opening you up with a chest shattering bass rhythm, pulling you right back down again before the long (and again trance style) build into the … wait for it … POW huge drop.

The sounds that make up some of the songs I feel could be, dare I say it, annoying, if listened to in isolation. However Rustie’s ability to melt these together into tracks that you can wash the dishes to or run a rave on illustrate the vast appeal that this album has.

Moving towards the back end of the album and All Nite, you can hear the influence of Rustie’s previous collaborations with Bristol’s Joker. I also get the impression that video games like Sonic the Hedgehog might have played some part in shaping Rustie’s musical direction, but that’s just my opinion.

If you fill a stocking with Glass Swords this Christmas, it’s safe to say no daggers will be drawn (I’ve really got to stop with this comedy angle), so why don’t you!

Glass Swords is released by Warp Recordings and is available in all good record stores and online digital outlets.

Virgo Four – Resurrection

Ahead of a recent trip abroad I decided it was time to update my music collection; JLS’ lp is over a week old and Frankie Cocozza won’t be releasing anything until 2012 at the earliest (and I suspect even then it’ll be a dubplate-only release).

With this in mind, I plumped for Rush Hour’s second Virgo Four release in as many years, Resurrection. The CD boasts 15 unreleased Chicago house hits from ’80s tunesters Eric Lewis and Merwyn Sanders. If you get the vinyl, you’re treated to twice as many tracks in a limited edition box set. Bonus.

Whilst some of the beats feel like filler – this was after all a compilation of unreleased material rather than an lp by conception, unlike their fantastic self-titled 1989 album – a handful of the tracks are Chicago gold. Sex, for example, deals with the intricacies of ‘naughty times’ with a base-heavy drum lick that would have made J Dilla proud (RIP). Moskaw’s locomotive-inspired beats and synth baseline feel icy fresh, as if you’re sat atop the Glacier Express in your birthday suit, hurtling through the Swiss Alps with a smile on your face and a chilly willy. The standout track for me, however, has to be it’s a crime. Co-written by Greg Gary (great name), the soul-drenched vocals, thoughtful message and instantly hummable baseline make this track a special find.

Better still is Caribou‘s remix. Caribou’s take on its a crime preserves the best elements; the bouncy bass remains the backbone and the rueful vocal riffs are now ably performed by Daniel Victor Snaith (Mr Caribou himself, previously known as Manitoba). As with many of the tracks on his 2010 lp Swim, this remix passes through a series of phases which grow and grow until the 3m 50s mark when a soaring baseline preludes a monster drop.

With this track on heavy rotation, I decided to check out some of the Caribou back catalogue and I’ve not been underwhelmed. The Milk of Human Kindness has a delicate sound while last year’s ‘Swim’ is made for the dancefloor. Both are exercises in effective songwriting.

Dave – I definitely came late to the Caribou party. The good news is it’s not too late for others to learn from my mistake. The Caribou Vibration Ensemble are playing at Scala in London on 6 December for those lucky enough to have bought tickets in time. If not, check out Nightmare Before Christmas in Minehead between 9-11 December which is co-curated by Caribou. And if you can’t make that, Snaith has put a delightful, download-friendly mix together ahead of the festival here.

Santiago Street Machine – Noisemaker

Manchester alternative electro three piece Santiago Street Machine released their debut single, Noisemaker, today.

Alongside a rampant, thumping, grit fuelled, bassy monster of a track, they’ve linked up with some very talented photographers, videographers and graphic designers to bring a triple threat track, video and artwork.

The single artwork features a photograph by Cambridge based photographer Tom Mayle with graphics from London based designer Ed Chandler. It’s an explosive photo which sets off the explosive sound of the track well.

No single release is complete without a music video, and London based duo James Gough and Steve Roberts (Master Original Dub) have delivered an intriguing watch to accompany the track. The steps needed to make that “noise” with your debut offering can ride on the flip of a coin decision, as the video portrays. Some young acting talent on show too from Alex Payne and Isabella Lueen.

You can pick up the single now on iTunes, Amazon and all the other big download sites. Next live show is at London hot spot Cargo on Saturday 17 December.

The Weeknd – House of Balloons / Thursday

Canada; the boring loft gathering above the killer house party that is America. That’s how I’ve heard it described before. I’m not sure that such a description is really fair, and given the rate at which Canada is bringing us a whole raft of new creatives, I’d say the tables could be turning.

The likes of Drake have made it HUGE on a global scale in the last few years. You can see that through the decadence in the video for Headlines, doesn’t the man know there’s Euro zone debt crisis going on! Lunice has raided the UK this year to bring his own blend of electrified hip hop madness to Carnival and the Boiler Room to great effect. More than just a DJ, he’s a one man mime dance troop to boot (I sometimes wish his audience would give has much as he does).

For me, the maverick of the bunch has been 21 year old game changer Abel Tesfaye, you probably know him by his stage name; The Weeknd.

This, his latest offering called Initiation, is full of angst ridden, pitch shifted vocals, eerie guitar loops and a drum shuffle that would break down any club floor.

But what’s the big deal, surely he’s just another major label backed, R&B crooner with a bit of edge. No sir! Rumour has it he’s never even left his home town of Scarborough, Ontario (although some of the lyrics in “The Morning” suggest otherwise).

His two releases to date have both been put out on his own “XO” label as completely free (you don’t even need to give him your e-mail address) downloads.

Out of the two, I’d say debut offering “House Of Balloons” is the stronger, with tracks like “What You Need” (introduced with Aliyah samples then slinking along in the style of a smooth K-Ci & Jo Jo classic) and “The Morning” (picture waking up to a Prince guitar solo, being serenaded with memories of the night before before an 808 roll explodes to snap you back to reality) standing firm in the pack.

It’s the emotion in his delivery that really mark The Weeknd out. That and the fact that, by all accounts, there’s been little outside assistance in pulling these albums cum mixtapes together.

Still unsigned at the time of writing this, and with another self released album “Echoes Of Silence” pencilled in for this year, we could be seeing The Weeknd and Canada riding higher and higher on the musical map in the coming year.

Click the pics, download the albums and enjoy the weekend!

Flying Lotus @ Roundhouse (22.10.11)

Billed as one of only three live shows this year, the others in Paris and New York, expectation was high. Recommended in Time Out, Flying Lotus would be flanked by a vj set from AntiVJ and supported by Martyn and Kutmah, the former’s new lp already a Dash’n’Verve favourite.

So perhaps I started to let excitement get the better of me as we filed in to the excellent Roundhouse to hear Martyn drop Mega Drive Generation. Though he wasn’t the main event, the Chicago house inspired Masks and enveloping Popgun from the album Ghost People proved Martyn has a lot to offer FlyLo’s label Brainfeeder.

Kutmah with a warm up set next. an amazing version of Shugge Otis’ Aht Uh Mi Hed slinked through the mix and big bouncy r’n’b retakes reminded of the massive influence Hudson Mohawke has had on the genre.

And so to Flying Lotus. The big screen centre stage blinked with a galaxy of stars (or a windows screensaver as a Dutchman behind me quipped) and out Steve Ellison came, fresh white shirt and all. A couple of bass heavy hits in to his Ableton set, Flying Lotus appeared to apologise for something. Whilst it wasn’t clear what the apology was for, it felt to me as though something was supposed to be better. A quick post mortem on the performance…

The AntiVJ visuals were dull – like being trapped inside the crystal maze dome without a hope of reaching 100 gold tokens net. And from the guy who brought us Unexpected Delight, GNG BNG and the matchless Cosmogramma lp, the sound unfortunately matched the visuals. On the aforementioned lp tour, FlyLo drew on the fantastic Thundercat and Austin Peralta to do something truly live with the band Infinity. This was more like going to an expensive Italian restaurant and being served a Dr Oetker pizza.

Yes, the music was great, typified with FlyLo’s finale of Astral Plane followed by the Rolling Stones classic Paint it Black. But playing to thousands of punters paying 25 notes each, you need to offer more than a laptop and an apology.