The Bug, Angels & Devils

Andy Battaglia

By Andy Battaglia

on 08.25.14 in Reviews

Many electronic-music producers can make sounds seem monstrous and big, but precious few can do so with subtlety and nuance. Kevin Martin, aka the Bug, has been alchemizing such conflicting properties since the early 1990s, in style-shifting guises that include Techno Animal, God, King Midas Sound and others. As the Bug, he glances toward Jamaican dancehall, reggae and dub, but with a side-long leer that makes the conventions aligned with such sounds appear like blurry figures skulking somewhere in the periphery.

Martin plays spiritedly with heavenly and hellish poles, outdoing Death Grips in rawness and seething rage

For Angels & Devils, the first new Bug album in six years, Martin plays spiritedly with heavenly and hellish poles. The first half starts off comparatively quiet and reserved. “Void” slinks into a suspicious crouch, with gristly atmospheric ambience and vocals by Liz Harris that cast her, much like she sounds in Grouper, as a kind of murky phantom. “Falls” follows with vocals by Inga Copeland (formerly of the out-there aural art project Hype Williams), and “Pandi” is even more spacious and mysterious, with a beatless series of overdriven organ sounds.

Then, beginning with “The One,” Angels & Devils reveals its more fiery side. Flowdan’s rapping, aligned with London grime, sounds antic and cracked over blasts of noise and machine-gun beats, and the intensity doesn’t let up from there. As suggested by their pairing on the song “Fuck a Bitch,” the Bug might well be the only act who could out-do Death Grips in rawness and seething rage. And lest the menacing mood be mistaken, Warrior Queen gives voice to a fang-baring anthem titled “Fuck You.” Most impressive throughout it all, as Angels & Devils delivers itself from grace, is how much sense both sides make together.