Rusko has become dubstep's party-monster producer du jour. Everything about his music hollers at the top of its lungs to make some motherfucking noise and to revel till you ralph. It's not exactly how you'd expect the work of someone with a musical performance degree from the University of Leeds to sound, but there it is.
Born Christopher Mercer in Leeds, England, Rusko scored a club hit with "Cockney Thug" in 2007 and that same year recorded a strong dubstep mix with his buddy Caspa, FabricLive.37. Rusko moved to L.A. in 2009 and hooked up with Diplo's Mad Decent organization, which recently released his debut album, O.M.G.!
O.M.G.! (spoiler alert!) is a party platter, bursting with bravado vocals (Dirty Projectors' Amber Coffman), raps (Gucci Mane), and toasts (Rod Azlan) amid rambunctious strains of dubstep, dancehall, drum 'n' bass, and hiphop. There's also a track called "Raver's Spesh" that lives up to its name. "Kumon Kumon" epitomizes Rusko's approach to production: suspense-building rave-synth stabs and rewinds in the intro, followed by ululating and sensually whispering divas, junglistic "Amen" breakbeats, and a female wail chopped into a ludicrous chipmunk chuckle. This tune reveals Rusko to be a canny aggregator of peak-time signifiers. O.M.G.! proves that he's transformed himself into one of the highest-level purveyors of lowest-common-denominator bass music.
Almost 180 degrees opposed to Rusko, Cleveland's Emeralds (Mark McGuire, Steve Hauschildt, John Elliott) make music to zone out to for long periods of time. Their extended, mantric jams allow listeners to flaunt their exemplary attention spans, heave their exemplary sighs of wonder, and to become Zen masters of aural drift.
It speaks highly of the current musical ecology that a group like Emeralds can secure an opening spot on a tour with Caribou—even if the gig's been moved from Showbox at the Market to the smaller Chop Suey. Emeralds eschew conventional song structure, vocals, and beats; instead, they focus on creating vast, enchanting swaths of guitars and keyboards that would make Carl Sagan—were he alive—swoon like a tween girl at a Justin Bieber concert.
As with fellow blisscentric soundscapers Oneohtrix Point Never and James Ferraro, Emeralds have plugged into the kosmische über-soul and located the most advantageous tones and textures to foster optimal mental transportation. You can hear the evidence on releases such as Emeralds, Solar Bridge, and Does It Look Like I'm Here? Praying at the Ash Ra Tempel to guitar deity Manuel Göttsching and basking in Steve Hillage's global chillage, Emeralds have joined the canon of sonic cosmonauts who make you soar rather than snore.