Tuesday Review: Rusko – Songs (Mad Decent/Downtown)
by Zach Senders
If a recent spat of tweets from the London-born dubstep producer Rusko is any indication, the release of his second album Songs has been a long-anticipated and highly pressurized event. Released on Diplo’s Mad Decent label, the album has been kept “under wraps for months” and “off radio, no DJs, off YouTube till release day.” With 2011 near absent of singles or EPs from the producer, this album represents a significant milestone in Rusko’s career. Songs is an attempt to continue his ascent to superstardom in the EDM world by both pushing the dubstep genre forward and staying true to its roots.
While we’re so often fed our electronic music in bite-size single and EP portions these days, it’s refreshing to see a producer put the time and energy into constructing an entire album of material. There’s no feeling like listening to a well-assembled album from start to finish, one track leading deliberately to the next. Songs, however, lacks some of the flow and purposefulness of a great full-length. There’s a definite disconnect between the distinctly reggae tracks like “Love No More” and “Mek More Green,” and tracks like “Opium” with its plucky lead-synth or “Asda Car Park” and its trance-esque female vocals. This isn’t to say they don’t stand on their own, but something just doesn’t feel right when you force these tracks together into a full-length album. It’ll be interesting to see how Rusko incorporates some of these new styles into his DJ sets.
Songs does however highlight Rusko’s technical production prowess and his ability to compose tracks that evoke varied emotions no matter the musical influence. It’s easy to imagine going nuts hearing “Thunder” at the climax of a Rusko show. “Dirty Sexy” and its hip-hop vocals seems destined for popular US radio. And the upbeat “Pressure” will no doubt find a place by the pool this summer. Rusko continues to incorporate Jamaican influence into many of his tracks, which comes as no surprise given Mad Decent artists’ affinity for international inspiration. The sheer breadth of Rusko’s production talent on this album is hard to miss.
“Year 3000 Style,” the intro track of the album, gives a succinct synopsis of the philosophy Rusko has taken with his music. “It’s original, it comes from the heart…so who is anybody to say there’s any boundaries.” Though some of the tracks shine better on their own, Rusko has again taken dubstep in his own direction with this album. In all, it’s a solid release that should reaffirm Rusko’s place among today’s elite EDM producers.