6 September 2014

The Bug - Angels & Devils

Ninja Tunes do release some scary ass shit, no joke; some of their releases are the sounds of my nightmares.  But this is a good way, for sometimes it is good to be scared.  One of their latest releases is this record by British artist Kevin Martin (AKA The Bug).  Much like Sleaford Mods before him, I cannot say that I have heard anything release by him before, but over the last two decades the man has been releasing music under various guises and has never really stopped by the looks of it.  This is the fourth album to be released under the name of The Bug and is the follow up to the 2008 release - 'London Zoo'.  In a recent message on The Bug Facebook page, he claims that this release is no better than 'London Zoo' and that it’s the ideal accompaniment to the former album.  Now as I have not heard the original I cannot confirm or deny this statement, but usually when an artist releases an album they tend to claim it is the best thing ever.  It is really quite refreshing to see an artist give a measured view of his own material, so now I can deliver into 'Angels & Devils' to find out what the noise is all about and if it continues the good work of Ninja Tunes in scaring the living shit out of me.

"Void" featuring Liz Harris is the first track on off here; this is a haunting piece of ambient minimalist electronica that starts to make me feel unnerved from the start.  The siren voice of Liz Harris laced over the pulsing bass, mixed in with only the very essential drums gives this track a stark and desolate feeling; it is an amazing opening to this album.  "Fail" is the second track on offer here, with the bass pulsing even harder and the vocal from Inga Copeland matches the more confrontational sections of the song perfectly; without sounding too menacing, that makes it a darker prospect all together.  Third track "Ascension" is the first to have no contributions on it from another artist.  This could be the soundtrack to entering that unfamiliar nightclub you have always wanted to go to, but have been unable to enter for one reason or another.  There is a feeling of anticipation running through this song; the danger in the music is not just part of your imagination - basically, your fucked.  

"Mi Lost" is the fourth track with vocals being delivered by Miss Red.  This song keeps up the dark and edgy work that has been the calling card of this album so far and to be totally frank, it is another amazing bass driven piece of electronica that is so minimalist that it would make a Robert Mangold exhibition seem like Mardis Gras.  Also, this vocals of Miss Red as very hypnotic and add texture to this sparse track.  "Pandi" is the second and last track to have no contributions from vocalist, starting with a choir organ sound that is really the whole song.  This reminds me of the work of noise artists such as Sunn 0))), Ulver and some later day Scott Walker, when the hi-hat does kick in around the three minute mark it feels like it has come out of nowhere; as all you have had so far is that organ and a bass pulsing behind it.  Yet slowly but surely, more sounds are introduced in the background this it transforms into something more sinister and stops with one high pitch note.  "Save Me" is the halfway point of the album and features vocals from Gonjasufi.  Now having heard work from Gonjasufi, I can say that it is no surprise that he appears on an album like this.  This song with its dark strings, colossal bass and ethereal female accompaniment, you have a new distorted version of Portishead at their darkest and it just drives home the point that this album is not a safe place to stay.  

But as the album has gone along, I cannot help but notice that there is more being added to each song.  Each one of these numbers has a little bit more in the way of musical fittings and noise coming in, but without sacrificing any of the darkness that has been so skilfully crafted.  "The One" starts with a sound that sounds like an alarm and the second half starts with a bang.  This is the first of three tracks to feature Flowdan, and this is the musical explosion that has been threatening to boil over at some point.  The aggression is palatable on this track, the frequencies are stabbing and the bass is still all encompassing.  But the dark edge is still there, you can still hear it in the background and towards the end it takes over sounding like motor engines in perfect tone.  "Function" follows on with vocals handled by Manga.  With a crazy horn opening, you are invited into a crazy rap world which beats you around like you are a rag doll falling down some stairs.  It is a crazy, intense and stomping track that will have the most unwilling spirits moving.  The next track was one that drew my eye when I was looking at the song titles, not because it is called "Fuck A Bitch" (seen much worse over the years); no, the reason for my interest is the fact it has vocals delivered by Death Grips.  This is a vile little number, seedy and offensive - of course, I love it.  The combination of The Bug & Death Grips is fantastic and I wonder what a full album would sound like, but that is beside the point.  This is one of those moments where hard, dark & heavy electronica makes total sense; what a tune!

"Fat Mac" follows on, this is the second of the three tracks with Flowdan, it does try to be as in your face as "Fuck A Bitch", but it is no less intense.  Feeling a bit more like the beginning of the album in terms of energy, the bass still makes this song a monstrous number and Fowdan sounds like as if he is hunting people down!  It just feels like this song was created in such a desolate place, it is just so good and keep the mood of the record on track.  The penultimate track here is "Fuck You" with the vocals being handled by Warrior Queen; this album just keeps getting harsher as it heads towards the end (which we can only assume will be drive towards hell in a baking tray).  Warrior Queen is so powerful in her delivery here, she makes Death Grips sound like puppies (and that is not easy as they sound like savage dogs early on).  Once again, the bass is the true star of the show again but it cannot over shadow the performance from Warrior Queen here; this is the track of the album, hands down.  Ending the album is the third track from Flowdan called "Dirty".  This song is another bass heavy electronica noise festival, Flowdan is brilliant and it ends the album on a very high water mark.

Wow.....I am truly impressed by this album.  The Bug can be added to the lists of artists that have truly terrified me from Ninja Records.  I have said this before, but what a dark record this is! The bass is so solid through this record that it can probably level buildings into dust.  The two halves of the record merge in completely and to be honest there is not a clear point where it starts to get heavier, but once it starts there was no prisoners to be took.  The amount of artists that I have heard for the first time this year is getting quite long, this one can be another that will be hard to ignore when it comes to the end of year polls; this is utterly break taking.

10 out of ten - This is proof that there is a God 

Top track - Fuck You

You can purchase Angels & Devils from Amazon here

You can visit the artist page for The Bug on Ninja Tunes records here

You can follow the activity of The Bug via his Facebook page here....

.... or his twitter feed here

You can listen to the album on Spotify here

For our Deezer readers, here is a link for you to hear the album

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