Rusty Santos seems to be quite a busy fellow. In addition to producing excellent albums from groups like Animal Collective (Sung Tongs), Born Ruffians (Red, Yellow & Blue), and Panda Bear (Person Pitch), he's released four solo albums and has collaborated with a batch of other artists. The Present is his newest project, and here he's joined by a couple friends simply named Mina and Jesse to create a sprawling six tracks that only seem to really find their voice in a few places.
Everything is familiar here, from the sometimes-pounding percussion and bells to the layered wordless vocals and heavily filtered instrumentation, and it's one of those listens that at times unfolds into something that makes the dull moments seem even more frustrating. Given Santos' pedigree of strong work, World I See definitely feels like a step backwards. There are three shorter songs on the release, and only the album-titled "World I See" is really engrossing, rattling through a sort of haunted-house opening with huge drums and weird vocals before falling off to a mumbling, uneasy ending that eventually lightens slightly.
The other tracks on the release all clock in at well over ten minutes apiece and slide through a sort of general, heavily reverbed and delayed sonic soup that peels back occasionally to reveal some moments of stunning clarity (four minutes into "Heavens On Ice" is a perfect example of a section that should have been a song by itself instead of buried in a huge cloud of haze). The same goes for the blasting ending of "Symbols On High," but it unfortunately takes over eight minutes just to arrive to that point. In the end, it's one of those releases that feels improvised, but it's also murky and unfocused in a way that's really hard to glean much from.