By RFT Music
By Drew Ailes
By Bob McMahon
By Allison Babka
By Kelsey McClure
By Carolina de Busto
By Ben Westhoff and Sarah Purkrabek
By Steve Brennan
Pay close enough attention, and you'll smell Jamaican influences in pretty much every club space imaginable. The twin spliffs of dub and dancehall have been sparked again -- remember to thank Jah for the light -- and a wide range of stoners have lined up. Hip-hop kids smoke 'em to escape that long bling trip (Sean Paul, Beenie Man, Timbaland). Dance-rock retro-futurists pick out their seeds of influence from post-punk's little green bag (Select Cuts' awesome comp Wild Dub [Dread Meets Punk Rocker], Out Hud). And G4-wielding sonic terrorists are inhaling their sub-bass bin textures while puffing on garage and jungle beats for maximum combination of bounce and noise (DJ/Rupture, Wasteland, England's yardcore scene).
It's the perfect time to cue entrance music for Kevin Martin, who, as a member of ambient-metal machinists Godflesh and noisy hip-hop beat-miners Techno Animal, spent years smuggling a dub-head's stash to those peeps. In his Bug guise, he fully embraces laptop dancehall production as an extreme sport, inviting some of the UK and the Caribbean's top underground MC's for bong hits. That Pressure, his first full-length under this name, is being released by like-minded extremists Kid 606 (in the U.S.) and Aphex Twin (in Europe), definitely makes sense.
Not everything here is a full-on digital squall. Bug's got more than a bit of dub techno's hippie side to him. Tracks such as "Thief of Dreams," which features Roger Robinson's Rasta spiritualist verses, and "Live & Learn," with Paul St. Hilaire cooing lover 's rock while bass whooshes imitate upskirt maneuvers, are lovely, calmly schizoid bits of populist reggae thought. Whereas Pressure's blasts from the dancehall camp -- particularly on cuts MCed by Daddy Freddy, a gruff-voiced haranguer who once made it into the Guinness Book of World Records as the world's fastest rapper -- are as good as sinister future-funk gets. Lo-fidelity synths rumbling at midlevel, shimmying your bowels in a way that's both frightening and exhilarating: This is sweaty, lights-off-in-a-crowded-basement stylee.