For an album to drag you by the scruff of the neck through a neon-splattered Detroit – that’s something special. For it then to take you soaring over dancefloors where electric blue lasers cut swathes through skyward-reaching crowds – you’ve got a remarkable LP. For it to continue, unstoppable, spiraling out into inky skies where supernovas illuminate the farthest reaches of the galaxy, well, that means you’ve got a bona fide classic on your hands. Yet this is the journey that Rustie manages to take the listener on through the spiralling hardware and tessellating drums of Glass Swords. It’s an album that requires a serious amount of stamina to get through – sometimes the sheer, unrestrained, unrefined chaos can peak so violently that it’s as if your headphones might burst; but this is part of the charm. The blistering intensity of ‘Cry Flames’, the horn-driven grime beligerence of ‘After Light’, it’s all so fraught with adrenaline, so colourful and intense, that – like the best art – it sits atop a blurred line between genius and insanity.
Since the day his ‘Jagz the Smack’ EP unintentionally gave birth (in part) to ridiculous non-genres like ‘Aquacrunk’ and ‘Wonky’, 23-year-old Russell Whyte – Rustie, to the informed – has been one to watch; even if only to see what absurd tag would be attached to his bubbling, strobe-lit hip-hop next. Having finally shaken free the burden of the movements-that-never-were, the Numbers alumni has taken this freedom to unbelievable new heights, and on his debut LP for Warp, Glass Swords, Rustie doesn’t just demonstrate an aptitude for genre-busting originality, but tears out of the stratosphere with an album so completely absorbing – so entirely evocative – that it sometimes threatens to buckle under the weight of its own ideas and uncontrollable energy.
Some of the vivid strokes of colour on Glass Swords are a little more ridiculous than others, but even though big-room trance-stabs peak their head over the parapets sometimes, they’re always so bombastically employed that they work as anything but paint-by-numbers. Besides, for every day-glo stab, a throng of ideas await, making for a genuine Frankestein’s monster of dance music’s most lurid corners. When any music is enacted with so much palpable enthusiasm; such deep-rooted passion, it becomes hard not to become enamoured by it’s energy and caught up in the adrenaline of those heightened moments – moments that are hardly few or far-between on this particular debut.
Yes, it’s all here; from the strutting glitch-hop of ‘Death Mountain’ to the irrepressible schizoid synths of ‘Ultra Thizz’, Rustie is a man with ideas for days – perhaps sometimes, as on the chaotic ‘All Nite’ – more than he has time to fully employ, but it’s ultimately forgivable considering each and every eccentricity seems intent to outdo the last. It’s not all just straight-forward dancefloor gymnastics either, as Rustie uses ‘Ice Tunnels’, ‘Glass Swords’ and ‘Globes’ to steer the listener momentarily away from the forthright neo-funk thwack of the excellent ‘Hover Traps’ and off into another corner of the imagination. Simply, you never know which direction you’ll be taken next. Glass Swords is, as has been explained, an enormous, tumultous journey – and one that should see Rustie afforded the same celebrity attentions as fellow Scot and sometime cohort Hudson Mohawke. Yes, filled with jaw-dropping originality and framed by sheer unpredictability, the adventure Glass Swords takes you on may not be predictable, it may certainly not be an easy one – but as one of the few albums so diverse as to easily soundtrack a Sci-Fi epic, a Sega Game, or back a chart-topper, it’s a musical experience that everyone should let Rustie take them on.