Review : Rusko - Songs
PitchforkThe producer doth protest too loudly. After a few years of letting that low end ride on UK dubstep labels like Dub Police and Sub Soldiers, Leeds-hailing first-wave wobbler Rusko released his debut LP, the intermittently interesting crossover attempt O.M.G.!, in May of 2010. Another, more culturally resonant bass-heavy release emerged that year: Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites, the breakout second EP from the ever-polarizing skronkmeister and recent triple-Grammy winner Skrillex. By the end of the year, Rusko was not only castigating the absurdly named "brostep" sub-genre affixed to artists like him and Skrillex-- he was taking responsibility for the whole thing. "Brostep is my fault, but now I've started to hate it, in a way," he told BBC 1Xtra DJ MistaJam. "I kind of took it there, and now everybody else is taking it too far." A year later and he was still on one, telling SPIN that the follow-up to O.M.G.! would be "a reaction to the masculine, dance-floor orientated, distorted mess that is the current state of dubstep."
Really, it's strange Rusko was stuck with the "brostep" tag to begin with: The closest association he has with Alpha Wub Delta types is the liberal sampling of dialogue from Guy Ritchie's rough-and-tumble frat-arthouse touchstone Snatch found on his and dubstep mainstay Caspa's 2007 Fabriclive mix. He is more than familiar with letting that bass run wild, albeit in less aggressive ways than his HARD Fest contemporaries-- but you either have to be narrow-minded or just plain ignorant of dance culture as a whole to think that rocking a system with cavernous rumble is a new thing....full text
GuardianLeeds-born DJ/producer Rusko has a scattershot approach to contemporary dance music. On his 2010 debut album, OMG!, his artillery included reggae, drum'n'bass, house and dubstep, in the form of big, attention-seeking basslines, but he only sporadically hit the target ("Woo Boost" was a thrilling exception). His focus is more squarely on Jamaican sounds second time round, but although Songs feels consistently summery, it lacks coherence: the diverse elements don't completely gel. Straightforward dub-reggae numbers such as "Love No More" are pleasant enough, but when the bassline drops on "Skanker" it sounds more incongruous than thrilling....full text
BbcRusko’s attempt on this second album to realign his music with a Jamaican inheritance is something that some people might find problematic. Songs opens with a reference to King Tubby, and tries to make a point out of using reggae styles and vocalists. Yet it has nothing of the mind-opening space and texture of any Tubby dub. And since Rusko is one of the original drivers behind dubstep’s mutation from deep frequencies studiously engineered by people who understood bass into belching, aggressive, resolutely macho electro, this move is more than a bit ironic.
If Rusko is an innovator, as the reference wants to claim, his innovation has been to further remove dubstep from the roots soundsystem culture, as signified by King Tubby, and to make it more accessible to pop practitioners like M.I.A. and Skrillex. (The extent of the influence of mid-range wub-wub is presently demonstrated by a widespread tendency for dancefloors to resemble mosh-pits more than, uh, floors on which people actually dance.) Thus Rusko tries to reclaim his foundational status from his imitators while being completely blind to the paradox therein. Indeed, the head-banging, saw-like riff of ‘Skanker’ is prologued by echoes and bleeps that only achieve a parody of dub....full text
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