It’s been some time since we heard from electronic alchemist Rustie, the young Glaswegian who, along with Hudson Mohawke, is responsible for the popularity of wonky (or aquacrunk) – the English bastard child of post-Dilla hip hop and electronica. On Sunburst Rustie makes his debut for the infallible Warp Records. From the mouth-watering name to the vibrant cover it’s clear that Rustie is going to be taking listeners on an epic journey into his imagination – a technicoloured reconfiguration of the past.
Album opener ‘Neko’ begins as a pleasant Final Fantasy-esque piece which gives way to a triumphant rush of drums and a powerful guitar riff. Rustie polishes off the track with some lovely virtuoso licks. ‘Dragonfly’ remains in familiar territory, with its speedy C64 notes, warped vocal snippets and funky, out of shape melodies it should sound great in a club environment. The swagger of the track is propelled forward by the impossibly groovy snares. ‘Hyperthrust’ is another banger where Rustie shows off his ability to write fantastically funky melodies backed with rough beats.
Computer game vibes are everywhere on Sunburst. Bonus track ‘Starfox’ is an obvious nod to the Nintendo franchise and ‘Beastie Nite’ could be a great soundtrack if Zelda ever ended up in Streets of Rage. These references add a playful and nostalgic feel to the album that humanises something that could easily sound dead. Another interesting element on the EP is the presence of organic drums and classic rock guitars which emphasise the retro prog-rock feel Rustie is going for.
The album is overflowing with ideas, yet is surprisingly accessible. His sound is more focused than before, without sacrificing the offbeat quixotic style he’s known for. The only thing that isn’t epic is the EP’s length, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing – at the end it’s like waking up from a great nap. This short flight of fancy will suffice until Rustie drops his long-awaited LP.