Rusty Santos - High Reality (Lo Recordings)

Rusty Santos – High Reality (Lo Recordings)

If the name Rusty Santos isn’t that familiar to you – yet – then a number of the artists that he has worked with over the last twenty years should be. He first achieved recognition when he produced Animal Collective‘s album Sung Tongs and has worked on Panda Bear‘s solo albums Buoys and Person Pitch, as well as working with the likes of Dirty Projectors, Beach House and Black Dice. If you’re a bit concerned that it all might just be too hipster bloggosphere…don’t let that put you off.

This is his first solo album in sixteen years, and while it clocks in at less than half an hour for playing time, it really is a cracker. It features nine brand new songs performed by our hero on guitar, synths, piano, electronic and acoustic drums, and bass that contemplate one’s place in the universe, mental health struggles, and our relationships with others.

It’s a beautiful album, but one that came out of anything but beauty. As he himself admits, the songs were created out of what he describes as a “place of necessity” after he had been hospitalised and held against his will in a facility due to a breakdown, brought on by those he was dealing with in the music industry. “I know how it feels to never quite belong” he sings on album opener ‘Dream In Stereo.’ Well, fella, have a hug, and we’re here to listen. In your own time…

This brilliant record works on quite a few levels. There’s a sense in which you can imagine these songs sung acoustically around a campfire, but that with the approach taken here this is a rather delightful psychedelic journey. It’s actually not as lo-fi as you might expect, either, nor to these ears does it sound like the much much-maligned moniker, folktronica. His voice is altered slightly electronically but subtly, with the result that this doesn’t feel like a full on sonic assault but a reminder that subtlety can be surprisingly effective. Whilst he’s had fun experimenting, this is not an ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ recording, and it’s all the better for it. It’s a great midway – in some hands this record could have been too lo-fi for its own good; or a major label might have thrown too much money for it and made it more technicolour than it needs to be.

Given the length of the record, it could have come across as being rather short, but it actually feels complete in itself. This means that not only does the listener feel like they need to go right back to the beginning again, but discover little bits and pieces that reveal themselves over repeated listens. As well as the opening aforementioned opener, there are a number of other highlights within. ‘Symbolic‘ and ‘Apocalypses‘ might be my favourites here – but that could all change in a few listens. Take the chance to listen to this in different surroundings, too – on your own, with friends (at the very least because this is a record you need to tell people about) around that campfire, to fall asleep to…


God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.