Quick spin: Rusko’s ‘Songs’

March 26, 2012
Rusko
Songs

Maybe it’s just a lack of originality, but it seems more likely that Rusko called his new album “Songs” for a reason. The British producer was poised to be dubstep’s breakout star on the strength of his bone-rattling bass drops and A-list affiliations with the likes of Britney Spears and M.I.A. But the past year has seen a parade of young, talented performers (Skrillex, Avicii) become the faces of electronic music, mostly due to their live performances, which function as the ultimate serotonin rush. Although Rusko has no problem increasing heart rates and decreasing the amount of clothes worn by those on the dance floor, he’s intent on proving that he can compose, too.

“Songs” is a detour from the bludgeoning electro-attack that’s coming out of your 16-year-old nephew’s earbuds. The vertigo-inducing wub-wub that serves as dubstep’s calling card is still present, but Jamaican music is Rusko’s main source of inspiration this time out. Only a few of these “Songs” threaten to drill holes into the dance floor; most of it is actually more appropriate for the after-party.

“Skanker” is the best example of combining these sounds, blasting thick laser beams of noise into the middle of a head-nodding dub beat. It’s a rare combination of disorienting and hypnotic. “Love No More” is more representative of the material, though, receding into a haze of sound effects and anonymous vocals.

For every song that bursts from the speakers like a futuristic electro-reggae demon mutation there’s another that simply oozes out and fails to make much impact. It’s a decent hit ratio, and Rusko’s ear for sound and layering remains strong. Still, “Songs” needs a few more standouts to function as “Album.”

— David Malitz


Rusko’s “Songs” (Mad Decent / Downtown Records)

Recommended Tracks

“Skanker,” “Asda Car Park”

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