Rusty Santos - High Reality Music Album Reviews

Rusty Santos - High Reality Music Album Reviews
With warbly melodies and cozy instrumentation, the songwriter and producer’s first solo album in 16 years finds an intimate sanctuary. The messiness is a feature, not a flaw.

If the name Rusty Santos rings a bell, there’s a good chance that at some point in your life you were the kind of devout Animal Collective fan who traded live bootlegs in forum threads and defended Danse Manatee’s honor to the death. Though never an official member of the group, he played a pivotal role as producer during the mid-aughts, piecing together Sung Tongs’ collage of acoustic guitars, spooky samples, and barbershop harmonies. He’s continued to work with Panda Bear on solo projects like the plunderphonic Person Pitch and 2019’s Buoys, as well as a few alumni from AnCo’s boutique Paw Tracks label, but simply lumping Santos in with the storied psych-rock outfit does him a disservice.

During footwork’s breakthrough period from 2011 to 2014, he worked behind the boards on some of the genre’s most pivotal releases, including DJ Rashad’s Welcome to the Chi and Traxman’s The Architek. This brief stint in Chicago’s underground club scene had a marked effect on Santos, inspiring his own band the Present to migrate from psychedelic noise rock to vaguely Lynchian club music. While his recent production credits with Jackie Mendoza and Panda Bear have been more grounded in indie-pop tradition, Santos’ fascination with the Auto-Tuned glossolalia and 808 thump of contemporary trap has steered his clients into intriguing territory.

High Reality, Santos’ first solo album in 16 years, revisits the skeletal brand of folktronica he and Panda Bear explored on Buoys. Strummy campfire chords lay a foundation for much of the record, a familiar groundwork that gives Santos ample room to expressively contort his digitally altered vocals. But he ditches the echoing samples and aquatic sound effects that tethered Buoys to the AnCo oeuvre, opting for a drier, more economical mix that allows for greater intimacy between artist and audience.

Each instrument that appears on “Kick Out the Spirit,” for example, feels so clean that it’s slightly unsettling. Plasticky synth strings undergird acoustic fingerpicking, punctuated by the occasional dash of drum machine that sounds like it came packaged with Santos’ recording software. Though far from lo-fi, his chosen sound palette is back-to-basics in a contemporary sense, sharing a sense of post-digital authenticity with the clever use of Logic’s stock percussion on recent Porches releases, or Kanye West’s ability to make generic organ presets sound regal in the right context. These smooth textures place emphasis on Santos’ voice, which is, in contrast, closely mic’d and subtly distorted, following warbly off-the-cuff melodies that are more concerned with immediate expression than catchiness. “I will disown this dystopian nightmare,” he sings with defiant optimism: His major-key battle cries wield hope in a present that seeks to stamp it out at each turn.

Santos’ will to manufacture hope isn’t merely meant to be a salve for These Uncertain Times. High Reality was written after he was placed under an involuntary psychiatric hold due to a psychotic break, and he has said that the record and its title describe his mindstate while “detached from day-to-day reality during [his] crisis.” Opener “Dream in Stereo” sets the tone immediately, tucking internal frustration beneath a surface layer of jangly psychedelic pop. “I know how it feels to never quite belong,” he coos, extending both empathy to the listener and assurance to himself before illustrating this struggle to connect in surreal detail. Santos conjures elements of the album’s new-age mythos—angels, stardust, auras—with the intense concentration of a spellcaster, injecting mysticism into the song’s standard indie-rock trappings.

“Symbolic” and “Apocalypses” take the juxtaposition between cozy instrumentation and cataclysmic imagery a step further. Occupying High Reality’s middle section, both tracks are rather spare, consisting of little more than light strumming, handclaps, and a few keyboard flourishes, supplying a tranquil backdrop for scenes that would feel at home in the Book of Revelation. On the latter track, Santos describes feeling the laws of physics distort as his soul is assumed into heaven: a morbid, ambiguously triumphant vision wrapped in a chorus that goes down like warm Sleepytime tea.

High Reality’s medium and message may be mismatched, but this messiness is a feature, not a flaw. Through gentle restraint, Santos has fashioned his own source of comfort in a vast, sometimes confounding narrative that feels beyond his control. Oddly enough, it’s when the record’s sound mirrors its subject matter, like on the serpentine “Master Zodiac,” that it misses the mark, embarking on lengthy math-rock tangents that draw attention away from Santos’ vocals and leave you without space to properly take in the tumult. For the most part, though, the record does provide this sanctuary, like watching a raging storm through the window from the safety of your own bed. There’s something soothing about a little chaos when it’s seen from a distance.

Share on Google Plus

About Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera

Hey, I'm Perera! I will try to give you technology reviews(mobile,gadgets,smart watch & other technology things), Automobiles, News and entertainment for built up your knowledge.
Rusty Santos - High Reality Music Album Reviews Rusty Santos - High Reality Music Album Reviews Reviewed by Wanni Arachchige Udara Madusanka Perera on Monday, August 01, 2022 Rating: 5

0 comments:

Post a Comment