AlunaGeorge – Your Drums, Your Love

There’s been a raft of tracks in recent years where an already cracking instrumental has been taken on by some fledgling artist to create a more commercially palatable “vocal edit”. One that sticks out for me is Katy B – Katy On A Mission. Having spent a large part of my latter days in the capital listening back to Rinse FM shows and recordings of their acts’ live shows around the country, I had heard both the beat (Benga – Man On A Mission) and the vocal that later became famous on the Katy B track over a different song entirely (Katy B at Bloc festival 2010). I have to confess, I have a soft spot for the Katy On A Mission, it certainly didn’t ruin the original Benga tune for me, however the same cannot be said for all such “remixes”.

I am a massive fan of Glasgow producer de jour Rustie’s debut full length offering; Glass Swords. In particular the track After Light which I flagged up in a previous post (Glass Swords). I’ve got to say I was a bit of grumpy teenager crossed with a miserable old git (I’m half way between now so it was inevitable really) when I first heard the AlunaGeorge vocal edit. It added nothing for me, the vocal almost apologetic in it’s “soft” layering over the dance swell of the beat underneath.

First impressions count for a hell of a lot, so needless to say my expectation level was not at its highest when I was alerted to a new track by AlunaGeorge doing the rounds and being hyped to the hilt. What have I learnt from this? Don’t let those shoddy first impressions cloud your judgement.

Again, the first listen didn’t set me alight, but the more I hear from sweetly spoken Aluna (Francis) and George (Reid)’s glitchy yet engaging production, the more those first impressions fade into the distance, are forgotten and in fact, proven to be very wrong. Your Drums, Your Love (formerly Treading Water) pulls influence from things you know (there’s James Blake-ness in there that’s for sure) and others you don’t (some lovely clavichord style twiddles and subtle chug-rock guitar runs that I just can’t pinpoint), which when combined make for a very strong assault on the aural sense.

The time and effort that has gone into the presentational package which accompanies the song deserves as much attention as the track itself. The music video sees Aluna thinking out loud through song as she tours a gallery populated by a collection of diverse pieces from illustrator and sculptor Arran Gregory and an assortment of body popping punters. The glass Wolf is a particular favourite, alongside the bear.

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The moral of the story kids, cliche’s have their place and you should never judge a leopard by it’s stripes…or something like that.

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.

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.