My favorite 2020 autumnal sonic trip is 'In Blue', the latest release of Kevin Martin, as The Bug, out today on Kode 9 Hyperdub. The LP is a collaboration with Felicia Chen aka Dis Fig, and the result is an impressive industrial dub mutant.
'In Blue' is The Bug comeback after this year's ambient textural alien transmission LP Frequencies for Leaving Earth Volume 1 to 5. Through this comeback, he presents a brand new batch of riddims, carefully complemented by eerie vocals courtesy of miss Chen, sounding closer to ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) earworms than traditional chanteuse singing melodies.
The twelve new compositions are a vivid urban dystopia soundtrack. They travel with Dis Fig sweet vocals from dirty synths and grooves to lush music that carries the famous Bug touch. The listeners were teased with this collaboration at the beginning of the year with the No (Dub), on the Hope You’re Well covid answer compilation curated by Qu Junktions.
Miss Chen tingles the ear with her voice as a tool, insinuating, whispering, haunting through urban tales of romance and decay. In the mix, the music and words fit together like glue, as Bug will always be about haunted riddims in a deserted Blade Runner-like landscape. All is full of love and full of collapsing shapes and holograms. Hyperdub, as usual, is a forward-thinking label exploring space dub as if there is no final frontier.
Around Me, the opening album tune creates a perfect underwater dub environment that immerses the listener in a silky mantra. Increase the volume for Come to better answer your body desire to dance. Destroy Me has the dancehall killer vibe juxtaposed with lush delays and reverb. Its visual choreography could very well be the soundtrack for pure ancient greek theatre moves. Blood is a pure bass-is-a-weapon tune keen to prove modern life is asphyxiating in the current pandemic frozen live music industry.
In 2 U is the delicate relapse after the attack of these first songs, almost a ballad on an album of sonic fight and warfare dedicated to inducing confusion and instinctual movement. Levitating has hymnal refrains and less dirty synths, at least up until the bass hits hard and heavily overwhelming one ears. Such a deceiving piece of sonic art!
Forever is an instrumental pulse-like-melody, with beautiful piano stabs and superb orgasmic-effect driven high notes. Blue To Black disrupts, introducing another tectonic-riddim, a crescendo march that feels like a goodbye love song with closer to a light-speed pumping rhythm. Take is an adieu-amour tune with crystal-clear qualities, featuring stripped dancehall drum and bass. Synth arpeggios in dancehall music are pure bliss and are proven to be of a decisive effect on the dancefloor – no casualties.
No Return is the most science-fiction. It gives the strange feeling of being both underwater and in outer space, the perfect floating soundscape.
You, the first single of the album is the song that encompasses the LP’s whole aesthetic and theme - a slow-burning crescendo and catchy vocal melodies dissolved in a perfect match. End In Blue is the adieu mantra, it leaves you stranded like an astronaut missing a link to the spacecraft. Palette-wise, black is blue carries a reflection of void and stars, water on some planets, but a vast vacuum of space, probably the highest art form.
Women are great electronic music artists and The Bug always acknowledged that. He championed and produced for amazing ladies in the music industry – Jamaica's Warrior Queen, Israel’s Miss Red, American Grouper, and Russian-born Inga. Now, it's only natural for him to work with Dis Fig, the industrial goddess.
Tune-in to the militaristic poetry of bass and treble!