The bass scene in America is in flux right now. Homegrown producers like Skrillex are stripping music to its most base (pun intended), masculine elements, while many of their British counterparts, who would very much like to cross over to the American market, seem to think that emphasizing the similarities between Southern Hip-Hop and Grime is a one-way ticket to paydirt—see Dizzee Rascal’s 2007 collaboration with UGK for one of the earliest and best examples of this cross-pollination. It’ll be interesting to see which side wins over, because with Glass Swords, Rustie doesn’t seem intent on tipping the scales either way.
A Glasgow-based producer with strong affiliations to the similarly-positioned Hudson Mohwake, Rustie draws inspiration equally from his home-grown UK Bass scene and the American R&B scene around the turn of the century (did it really take people this long to decide that Tweet’s “Oops” was hip? Whatever. Must be a zeitgeist thing.). On the whole, Rustie’s style is not the most distinct in the world. He favors the talkbox, thundering, Warp-9 basslines, and, oddly enough, the type of clean slap-bass that only shows up these days on Seinfeld reruns. If he has one distinct signature, it’s that he takes whatever he’s doing and simply goes for it, often coming across as a refreshingly un-self-conscious—if anonymous—iteration of SBTRKT, a recent UK producer who enjoyed a nugget of success across the pond.
On the whole, however, these productions straddle the line thoroughly artless Joker ripoffs and whatever shit Luke Skywalker must have been listening to on his way to Hoth. For a lone track, however—the ebullient “All Nite”—does Rustie cease to seem like he’s being led around by the nose by other, more original producers. He fuses a vocal sample with the sort of rolling drillbit bassline that you’re supposed to hate but if used sparingly can be a sublime guilty pleaseure. For three minutes and eight seconds, it seems that Rustie knows exactly where bass music in America is going. Most of the time, however, he looks like he’s hedging his bets.