Saturday, November 15, 2008

The Bug - Pressure / London Zoo

London's Kevin Martin has been churning out innovative sample based music for over a decade under myriad different alias. Techno Animal, Curse of the Golden Vampire, and Ice, to name just a few. But it’s his work as The Bug, a moniker first adopted in 2001 that has garnered him the most attention. And rightly so i believe. As The Bug, Martin- who claims influences as diverse as dub, jazz, hip-hop and industrial- has consistently stretched the limits of Jamaican style dancehall. A self professed “bass addict” his sound incorporates huge amounts of low end, air raid sirens, and intricately layered percussion that meld into sinewy riddims. All of this is couched in dense, almost claustropobic atmosphere that evokes the seething post-industrial energy of modern London while clearly displaying its Jamaican roots.

Both of these these albums gather the some of the best vocal talent London has to offer. Daddy Freddy, Tipper Irie, Space Ape, Ricky Rankin, and Warrior Queen among others.

Pressure. The name says it all. A smoldering Calderon of London dread, that comes swinging right out of the gate with Politicians & Pedophiles featuring Daddy Freddy, and never really lets up. Martin uses plenty of distortion to get his point across and even on dubbier tracks like Thief of Dreams and Night Steppa both featuring Roger Robinson there is stil plenty of bloodclart attitude.

London Zoo see’s a more polished realized sound. The distortion is tuned way down and tracks almost feel like songs as opposed to all out assaults on the senses. This is not, of course, to say they aren’t brimming with lyrical bravado. No, and the nuclear bass bombs are still here as well. Standouts here for me include the ridiculously weighty Skeng featuring the toasting of Killa P & Flowdan, as well as Poison Dart a plodding dub workout with killer verbal jabs courtesy of the one and only Warrior Queen. Both of these tracks have a grimey dubsteppy feel which is only fitting seeing as Martin’s been active in the underground urban London scene for sometime, and has undoubtedly influenced the dubstep sound.

If you want a different take on Dancehall or London street music you could hardly go wrong with The Bug.

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