EP Review: Rusko – ! (Volume 2)

! (Volume 2) is the second EP from producer Rusko this year.

It follows !, which blew me away by tying several new elements together seamlessly in electronic music without seeming overcrowded or underwhelming. Unfortunately, I don’t believe that ! (Volume 2) shares that same drive to change the landscape of EDM.

The first song “Saxophone Stomp” calls for those loyal followers to fall in line behind the bouncy chord progression and shaky horror synths, but that march gets old quickly with no destination in sight. The song struts on without any bridges or structural differences, only random sound effects and a vocal sample that gets old after the first of several drops (“Saxophones? You gotta fucking be kidding me.”)

“I Wanna Mingle” was the only single released beforehand, and it’s a decent choice. It’s a really pleasant song with sharp chords and fluttering synths soaring all around. There is a little bit of electronic jamming here, but not as much progression as I came to expect as the song grinds on. There’s a forgettable bridge about halfway through that left me less amped than I feel I was meant to be.

“Lytah” and “Fushion Jam” both gave the EP its first sufficient dose of playfulness. “Lytah” brings back an array of instrumentation including jumpy piano chords and chopped of vocal samples that connect for a super danceable melody. “Fushion Jam” also brings something new to the table with live sounding drums in this space jazz club improve session. It sounds like a distant relative of a Flying Lotus composition.

! (Volume 2) saves its best for last in “Vaminos”. It’s almost unsettling how hard it hits you with its ruthless brass instruments immediately after “Fushion Jam”. The song really pumps you up with its drumming up until the robotic voice declares “Vaminos!” Then the percussion is embraced completely and the song is a growing monstrosity, only occasionally pausing completely for the children’s hoorays. The song really throws the kitchen sink at you with buzzing electronics, 80’s video game sound effects, and those infamous bass guitars that only showed up on the EP once before on “Slappy Pappy”. This is the undeniable stomp that the EP really should have started with; imagine the house party episode of Spongebob with more molly.

Overall, this is just an average electronic dance music EP. It’s disappointing to see Rusko release something so underwhelming when the first volume of ! was so groundbreaking, in my opinion, in its ability to make EDM feel tangible and real. Instead, on Volume 2 we are left with more afterthoughts that resemble more of the same.

Essential Tracks

“Vaminos”

Check out Rusko tour dates here.

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