The Bug - London Zoo
Producer Kevin Martin's second full-length release under the alias of The Bug is a harsh, paranoid soundtrack to the capital's underground - the product of time spent living in a recording studio to save money, claustrophobia clings to every last beat and snare kick. Setting the tone is the thinly veiled fury of British reggae and dancehall standby Tippa Irie on opener Angry, sounding off on everything from suicide bombers to the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.
London Zoo is propelled by heavy slabs of bass and the righteous anger and soulful tomes of its guest MCs, from the quickfire assault of Roll Deep member Flowdan to Spaceape's bile-inflected drawl. Warning's thick, sticky industrial slam is offset by the sound of jittery sirens exploding in the air, while dub-heavy banger Poison Dart combines a rumbling bassline to the chanted vocals of Warrior Queen with thrilling results.
Themes of resilience and redemption act as a counterpoint to some of the album's bleakest moments - this is music that recognises beauty in decay, from the degeneration of urban landscapes to the bubbling tape hiss that acts as a filter for the dense percussion and pitter patter soul of the album's only love song, You and Me. Cutting and pasting from London's vast musical spectrum, Martin's work runs the gamut of hip-hop, ragga, dubstep and pure noise to produce an effort that offers true depth and weight for listeners brave enough to bathe in its filth and splendour.