Monday, September 15, 2008

The Bug "London Zoo"

Artist: The Bug
Album: London Zoo
Label: Ninja Tune
Release date: June 2008
Genre: Electronic
Style: Dubstep
RIYL: Boxcutter, Kode 9, Burial

01. Angry
02. Murder We
03. Skeng
04. Too Much Pain
05. Insane
06. Jah War
07. Fuckaz
08. You & Me
09. Freak Freak
10. Warning
11. Poison Dart
12. Judgement
Total running time: 37' 12"
[MP3s courtesy of Allan's World of Music]

[The Bug - Open MySpace page in a new window]

[The Bug - Skeng - Video Clip]

"All the great British writer/producers of the past two decades have found their own trademark equilibrium between guest vocals and backing tracks. Massive Attack's first three albums all achieved this, as did Tricky's. All three Leila albums come to their own unique internal understanding, and the Chemical Brothers have never lost the knack of integrating a wide range of co-conspirators into a coherent scheme. But rarely has such a formidable array of vocal talent been so effectively marshalled as on this third album by the Bug, aka veteran noise artisan Kevin Martin.

From the subterranean rumble of Roll Deep Crew alumnus Flow Dan to the elasticated larynx of Roots Manuva helpmeet Ricky Ranking, London Zoo provides the perfect showcase for its colourful menagerie of MCs and singers. And the Bug's no-nonsense clank and grind production fosters a rare intensity of focus on this album's higher purpose, which is to take the eloquence of Linton Kwesi Johnson and Michael Smith's Eighties dub-poetry, and blast it into digital hyperspace.

It's probably fair to say that the UK dance subcultures that yield the richest musical harvests tend to be those whose creative terrain is most extensively irrigated by Britain's reggae tradition. And while dubstep started out feeling like a retreat from the upfront personal drama of grime, into a vague ambient netherworld of noodling sub-bass, London Zoo confirms its welcome drift into dub's turbulent inner space.

From the Taliban to Hurricane Katrina, this album's lyrical concerns fall on the darker side of doom-laden. But when you're living through times that make the Book of Revelations look like Wisden's Cricketers' Almanack, it's reassuring to hear music with the courage to face up to that. And from the mordant humour lurking in the rhyme scheme of Killa P and Flow Dan's 'Skeng' ('Evil... Worse... Nurse... Hearse') to Tippa Irie's commonsensical summing up of George Bush's betrayal of New Orleans ('America is a big superpower/They should have been there within the hour'), London Zoo puts a 21st-century twist on reggae's Babylonian rhetoric.

The rampant accessibility of the Bug's new music will come as just as much of a surprise to those who have followed Martin's cacophonous career since the halcyon days of God or Techno Animal, as it will to those for whom the idea of a British Bill Laswell means absolutely nothing. In its own apocalyptic fashion, London Zoo abounds with inspired pop touches. Like the way Warrior Queen's 'Insane' lapses into her own magnificently out-of-tune interpretation of Tears For Fears' 'Mad World', or Tippa Irie's 'Angry' starts out as something Xenomania might come up with for Girls Aloud. But it's in daring to ask the big questions like 'How did we get here, and where do we go now?' that this record's rage-filled exuberance evokes the spirit of such classic state-of-the-world addresses as Specials, Marvin Gaye's What's Going On and Black Flag's Damaged." [The Observer]



Dek said...

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Anonymous said...

ChipG said...

Saw this LP in the record store today listed at $42. Thanks for giving me the opportunity to preview before purchase!