Mad Decent Records, 2012
REVIEW BY: Tom Haugen
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED: 04/19/2012
I actually had to check my CD player to see if I put in the wrong disc after hearing the first song. Though I had no idea what Rusko sounded like, after glancing at the cover art I really expected this to be an Americana/folk disc, maybe something Jeff Tweedy was somehow involved in. I couldn’t have been more wrong, though; twangy and guitar-driven doesn’t describe anything here, as Christoper Mercer (AKA Rusko) has quickly become world renowned for reworking dubstep with thumping bass beats, rapid fire drums, and house and dance sensibilities.
Already being called a pioneer, and with plenty of successful remixes as well, Rusko’s sophomore effort delves right into anthemic, pounding dance music right off the bat. His use of samples, beats, various noises, and vocal work are carefully calculated, Rusko reaching from a deep bag of varied sounds beyond his dubstep notoriety. Switching gears, he also offers five reggae influenced tracks that remind us of where his roots lie, each one offering a more mellow version of Ruko’s musical vision that transports the listener to a beach in Jamaica, when the after-party has dissolved into a chill night on the beach.
Prior to his international fame as a songwriter, Rusko was well known for his work behind the scenes, so naturally this disc has a very slick, glossy feel, sounding flawless and meticulously produced. Though purists may see a problem with Songs exploration among so many genres, it’s probably not fair to label this a dubstep record so much as it is to say it’s a kaleidoscope of electronic pop that sits on the cusp of house, rave, dance, and reggae. Bridging the gap between his original sound with a more universal pop feel, though he’s become the most visible current name within dubstep, the sheer amount of creativity he possesses could never keep Rusko firmly in one category.