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Videogame soundtracks, hip-hop and energy were just a few of the ingredients responsible for 2011’s bombastic Glass Swords. Glaswegian producer Rustie has returned for his second full-length LP, and while his sound has not undergone a complete makeover, Green Language is a beast of its own, the album’s title referring to a mythical, perfect language of birds that appeals directly to emotion. The music presented here goes some way to achieving that.
Green Language’s opening two tracks shimmer in an intoxicating ambient haze, proudly announcing a change in Rustie’s focus with its atmospheric synths and minimal drums. The album’s first single takes the third slot, and it sees a return to Rustie’s trademark auditory busyness. With its hard-hitting hardstyle-esque kicks, it is a lush, unrelenting and uncompromising sonic experience reminiscent of Glass Swords. Its adrenaline is stark in comparison to Green Language’s softer side – a wake-up call for anyone thinking they were in for a peaceful ride. But ‘Paradise Stone’ dips back into the album’s softer, cinematic beginning, computer sounds interacting with the smooth and organic: Brian Eno composing a soundtrack for a documentary on videogame nostalgia. Even when placed between the manic ‘Raptor’ and meaty ‘Up Down’ it doesn’t feel out of place; it’s a breath between bangers, a rest on the rollercoaster. Thrill-seekers might see songs such as ‘Paradise Stone’ as mere padding, and in truth some are not as memorable as the album’s faster tunes. But they’re still well crafted, still a delight to dwell in.
The subsequent ‘Up Down’ is an interesting one – a grime MC, D Double E, spitting over a USA-style hip-hop instrumental that contains a bird call sample. Such eccentricities are par for the course in discussing Rustie, and whilst they sound bizarre on paper, in reality they gel seamlessly. ‘Attak’ featuring Danny Brown is in theory a match made in heaven, pairing one of the most frenetic modern producers with one of the most bizarre and deliciously delirious deliveries in rap. It’s an undeniably solid track, going a long way in capturing the madness expected of it, most notably in the booming bass and Danny Browns’ enthusiasm. But it lacks a certain element that was present in Glass Swords, a palpable sense of giddy excitement lost in a slightly more mature side. Many will crave this hyperactivity, this sugar-fuelled trip into futuristic trap bangers. Songs like ‘Velcro’ still contain the old, excited Rustie, and whilst it’s almost certainly one of the album’s highlights, that’s not to say the shift in style is unquestionably a downgrade.
The latter half of the album’s soulful tracks, like the vocoder-infused ‘Lost’ and soothing ‘Dream On’ are probably the weakest elements of Green Language, hampered perhaps by the instrumentals’ needs to cater to vocals. Yet even here there’s much to enjoy. Green Language is a cohesive soundscape, the album ending beautifully and in sharp contrast to its first half, a delicate piano line and watery reverb, bird calls mingling tenderly.
It’s the swan-song of a bright, forward-thinking record, and while it’s not ‘more of the same’ in Rustie’s sound, it is ‘more of the same’ in his obvious desire to innovate and advance while paying homage to the genres and sounds that have inspired him. It’s a record pushing against boring, simplifying terms like ‘EDM’. It’s not quit the shining crystals in Glass Swords’ album art, but Rustie still hits hard, whether in its heavier beats or emotional ambience.