The Bug

Angels & Devils

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After the brilliant brutalism of 2008's London Zoo, a set that fused and mutated ragga, grime, and dubstep, Kevin Martin snagged Bug collaborator Roger Robinson and Kiki Hitomi for King Midas Sound, whose Waiting for You was a dreamier if dread-filled affair. KMS performances grew increasingly combative, reflected in their 2013 single "Aroo" -- more akin to shoegazers Medicine, albeit with a desire to batter rather than pierce. Meanwhile, Martin kept the Bug around with infrequent 7" dosages dealt through Acid Ragga, his descriptively named, Ninja Tune-affiliated concept label. Over two years in the works, Angels & Devils contains none of the Acid Ragga material, and neither KMS partner is involved. Even so, there's continuity and gradual evolution that can be traced back several years through Martin's output. The album's first half is slower, as well as lighter, if only in a rhythmic sense. Ghostly Liz Harris (aka Grouper), subtly menacing Inga Copeland, singsongy Miss Red, and withered/sighing Gonjasufi contribute to it, while a pair of instrumental interjections respectively prod and drone. The throbbing intensity of "Fall" builds and builds, with a bassline that verges on acidic, and fades out before release. The second half is an unbroken chain of assaults. Death Grips are a perfect match for Martin's alien marching band drums, if only in terms of intensity; content-wise, it's another story. Luckily, Warrior Queen arrives right on time with F-bombs of her own on "Fuck You," a track that repeatedly storms and abates as the MC alternates between a swaggering cadence and a full-throttle howl. Roll Deep's Flowdan and Manga demonstrate that the London zoo remains in full effect. "Dirty," featuring the former in angered top form, is especially sharp and riotous with grim horns, probing sub-bass, and what resembles a deeply embedded sample of Aphex Twin's screeching "Ventolin." It's a disquieting finish to another Martin masterstroke.

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