Words About Music
The Bug “Angels & Devils”
It would be kind of hard for me to pinpoint the exact beginning of Kevin Martin’s career. He’s worked under several aliases and collaborated with even more artists. Arguably his most well-received and enduring project, however, is The Bug. The Bug’s output is incredibly versatile, drawing from Britain’s famed grime and UK garage scenes as well as dancehall, dubstep, noise, techno, and hip-hop. He drew quite a bit of attention from critics with The Bug’s 2008 album “London Zoo,” Martin’s third release through that project. After six years that Martin has surely spent working on other projects, he’s back with his highly anticipated fourth Bug album “Angels & Devils.” As the title suggests, the album is broken up into two halves, the first being more relaxed and ambient based and the second half being the more uptempo off-the-wall stuff he’s known for. While this split does sort of ruin any sense of continuity, each song on here is excellently produced and is indicative of Martin’s incredible versatility.
One of the most instantly notable features of this album is its recognizable list of features. While “London Zoo” had its fair share of vocal guests, none of them are very widely known or celebrated in America as much as they maybe in England. “Angels & Devils,” on the other hand, features a wide array of guests that any independent music fanatic should know. Liz Harris from Grouper, alt-rapper Gonjasufi, and the now defunct noise-rap project Death Grips all make excellent and welcome appearances on this album. Also present is Godflesh/Jesu leader and frequent Kevin Martin collaborator Justin Broadrick. Even if you take away the vocal guests, though, you’ve got twelve well-produced and varying tracks on this album that are all good in their own right. Kevin Martin’s influences are many and fairly obvious, but he uses them to make eventful and strange tracks.
If I have one real complaint about “Angels & Devils,” it’s that it feels more like a compilation of singles than it does a full-length album. There’s not a whole lot that really unites these twelve songs as a cohesive album. At best, the back half of this album feels like a great EP. With that said, none of that stops these songs from being some of the best electronic productions I’ve heard this year. Kevin Martin is a reliable producer, even when his songs aren’t the grimy bangers he’s most known for outside of his home country. He’s as great at getting the energy up as he is at toning it down. If I played you “Pandi” and “Function” you’d probably think they were by two different artists, but that’s just something Martin is great at.
While this album isn’t quite as consistent as I’d like it be (I especially prefer my EDM albums to feel like albums rather than collections of songs) it’s still full of great ideas and great compositions. Plus it gives me another Death Grips nugget to tide me over until they (maybe) release part 2 to their “The Powers that B” double album. It’s a moody album that combines the best of Burial with the best of Dizzee Rascal. It may not be entirely groundbreaking or unexpected for anyone that’s followed Kevin Martin’s prolific career, but it shows casual listeners that The Bug is one of the millennium’s most reliable electronic projects. I just wish that it didn’t sound like two EPs. Maybe next time mix it up a bit or make it a full-on double album. I could always go for more than six bangers in the mouth.
SCORE – 8.1
FAVORITE TRACKS – Void (feat. Liz Harris), Ascension, Mi Lost (feat. Miss Red), Pandi, The One (feat. Flowdan), Function (feat. Manga), Fuck a Bitch (feat. Death Grips), Fuck You (feat. Warrior Queen), Dirty (feat. Flowdan)