Mancunian deep-house artist Trus'me (a.k.a. David Wolstencroft) has kept a relatively low profile since the release of his 2009 sophomore LP, In the Red. The years since have seen little in the way of fresh output, offering only a three-part remix series that, while good, didn't quite match the breadth of his initial creative burst. Simply put, Trus'me has been missed, which helps explain why his new LP, Treat Me Right, is such a welcome release. At his heart, Wolstencroft has always been a superb album-oriented producer, with a highly stylized sound and a knack for pacing that has few equals in the world of dance music. Thankfully, it appears that those skills haven't eroded during his absence, as Treat Me Right finds Trus'me once again delivering an LP that, like his lauded debut Working Night$, constructs an elaborate world of sample-based texture that isn't so much listened to as it is entered.
The album is clearly the work of a mature producer. Wolstencroft has long operated in the slipstream of Detroit heavyweights like Moodymann and Theo Parrish—producers whose lushly constructed albums were sometimes a too-obvious point of reference. These comparisons aren't necessarily a bad thing; in fact, they're a testament to his abilities, as few producers can even approach those legendary figures in terms of consistency and quality. At the same time, the drawing of these parallels has haunted Trus'me's past albums; his previous two full-lengths were undeniably good, but they also occasionally suffered from the perception that they were merely well-executed emulations, as opposed to being individual works in their own right. Yet Treat Me Right carries a different sensibility, and it feels as though Wolstencroft has now managed to transcend the influence of his forebears to find a niche that is all his own.
To his credit, Wolstencroft seems to acknowledge this struggle with the spoken-word snippet that accompanies the bleepy Detroit techno percussion on opening track "Hindsight." A voice materializes from a looping grunt to frankly state, "You are what you is/Shieett!/Can't be what you ain't." And it's true, he'll always be an outsider, but crucially, he comes from a city with a long and documented appreciation for the music of black America and the Motor City in particular. Manchester was, after all, one of the major flashpoints for Northern soul in the '70s, and its famous club, the Twisted Wheel, still stands in operation to this very day. Though Treat Me Right obviously isn't working with that kind of pseudo-Motown sound palette, the LP is similar in the way it approaches the music from a standpoint of distance and imaginative obsession.
Self-awareness isn't the only new element at work here. There's also a sense of breakneck speed and occasional buoyancy that's markedly different from the murky sounds of Trus'me's trademark deep house. Perhaps this is a result of his touring schedule. In a recent interview with FACT, Wolstencroft said, "I found myself traveling as far as Japan and South America and experiencing new scenes and people that have influenced my sound both in the studio and behind the decks. Reaching 30 changes your perspective on life, so when visiting these strange but intriguing countries I've taken the time to stay for a while and take it all in. Airport-hotel-club and sometimes straight back to airport can take its toll on you."
This manifests in a momentum that drives through a bewildering array of musical landmarks, only to leave them in the dust moments later. "Tes Une Pute" features two French voices talking back and forth over a clap-heavy rhythm, plinking piano notes, and wild bongos. The sense of inertia is immense, moving like a freight train through a hall of rhythm and into "I Want You," a track featuring slowed-down vocal samples that appear to double up the melody of the previous song. The effect is like looking into the rearview mirror while careening down a highway. More weird rhythms and a bit of warehouse techno appear on "It's Slow," a misnomer that hardly conveys the overly nervous, Royal House-style percussion. "Moonlight Kiss" finds Wolstencroft flirting further with hard-house conventions, but then he drifts into the present with the lightly techno-shaded jump of "Defunct" and jitting ghetto-house claps of "Somebody."
Yet it's "Long Distance," the last track, that surprises the most. Playing out like a turntablist cinemascape, it descends into churning downtempo with a haze of orchestral movement and film samples. There's no overt house rhythm; instead, it floats off—a proper end to a particularly exhausting trip through one man's epic record collection. Afterwards, all that lingers is the impression of having heard something timeless.
Stream Trus'me's Treat Me Right LP in full, here.