It’s been a while since King Midas Sound graced our ears with some fresh material. While there was something of a stopgap from Hyperdub in the shape of the remix version of Waiting For You, it’s surprising to think that four years have passed since the trio of Kevin ‘The Bug’ Martin, Roger Robinson and Kiki Hitomi put together the heart-breaking collection of nourish lovers rock. Now a new single comes forth for Ninja Tune, and in true Kevin Martin style you can forget all previous form for KMS and start from scratch again.
When a concept-laden project comes along as seemingly explicit as Acid Ragga, you can’t help but have some pretty sizable preconceptions about what the music may consist of. Certainly it doesn’t seem like a shock to find out that Kevin ‘Techno Animal’ Martin is the one antagonising the relationship between electronic music and reggae. Since his The Bug moniker first rose to prominence tearing electronica fans a new one via vital Rephlex EPs and albums, Martin has displayed a visceral vision for where the wider possibilities of modern production might take the fundamentals of Jamaican-born sound, without ever losing sight of the all-important roots.
Kevin Martin has come to us over the years under a variety of guises (King Midas Sound, Black Chow, Pressure, Curse Of The Golden Vampire, Ice, Techno Animal and God) but here Martin returns to Ninja Tune for a release under the dubstep alias which he first started releasing under around 1997. This one comes as a heavyweight double 12” release comprised of two new tracks featuring guest appearances from vocalist Hitomi in opener “Catch A Fire” and the legendary Roots Manuva in “Tune In”, plus relicks of influential classic “Skeng” from Autechre and funky tinged “Poison Dart” from Scratcha DVA.
Kicking off with original material, “Catch A Fire” featuring Kiki Hitomi, The Bug gets the EP off to a fine start with crackling noise, smashing kicks in the background of a dubbed out soundscape and delicate, bittersweet, reggae tinged lyrics laid over the top. Next up, “Tune In”, is a thudding, drawn out stomper with monotonous tones mirroring the sense that “time is running out” – words which add to the imposing sense of dread and echoed vocal passages.
The Autechre remix of “Skeng” (feat. Killa P & Flowdan) is a bleak, haunting interpretation with metallic thuds and muttering patois adding another layer of texture to the 2008 original, which garnered near universal praise when it was released and definitely bears a re-visit to bring it to a new audience in 2010. Finishing up with Rinse FM lynchpin, Scratcha DVA’s re-work of “Poison Dart” (feat. Warrior Queen), the Infected EP concludes on an upbeat tip, with tight beats rolling around shrill vocal work and funky rhythms to great effect. A quality release.
The !K7 Records’ DJ KiCKS compilation series is marking its 15th anniversary this year. In that time the likes of James Holden, Four Tet, Hot Chip, Booka Shade, Juan Maclean and more have contributed a kick or two. But the time is now. And that time is Kode 9’s. The Hyperdub label boss has pioneered well…what has he pioneered?! This crazy blend of dubstep, grime, UK funky, broken beat and futuristic whatever-you-want-to-call-it, which has come to define a whole generation of music lovers. This consistently forward-thinking, razor sharp vision is brought to the fore in this mix which, he himself describes as “a snapshot of my DJ sets at the first half of 2010”.
Encompassing a broad range of styles and sound bites from across the sonic spectrum, the compilation kicks (no pun intended!) off with Lone- ‘Once In A While’, slowly moving through the newer wave of artists, as represented by Cooly G (with the as-yet unreleased ‘Phat Si’), Ikonika (the latest signing to the Hyperdub crew), Rinse FM’s Scratch DVA and Hessle Audio’s Ramadanman. Repping the old school are such notables as seminal dubstep trio, Digital Mystiz with ‘Mountain Dread March’, the legendary grimester, Terror Danjah, and UKG-turned-R&B/pop producer, Sticky.
Kode 9’s mix moves smoothly through some darker, heavier moments, interspersed with rhythmic synth-led sunshine-soaked riddims to some futuristic, bleepy moments such as ‘Spiralz’ by Zomby and dancehall flavours (see Sticky’s ‘Look Pon Me’). A 40 second interlude roughly two thirds of the way through acts a dividing marker, and the remaining part of the mix is dominated by a more brooding, bass-orientated vibe, full of the some of the UK’s finest – DMZ – ‘2 Much Chat’, Terror Danjah – ‘Stiff’ and Kode 9 vs LD – ‘Bad’ – before finishing with The Bug’s dark, growling ‘Run’. It’s not just a superb and evocative snapshot of where Kode 9 is at in 2010, it’s a panoramic of the contemporary musical landscape.
Review by Belinda Rowse
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