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Album Review

From God to Techno Animal to Ice, projects associated with Kevin Martin always evoke certain styles but rarely rely on them, instead using them as a jumping-off point for his sound experimentation. While Ice was nominally a hip-hop project, the tracks really sounded nothing like any rap music heard before it (though not after it; Def Jux may have ripped the script from Martin slightly). His debut on the Tigerbeat6 label associated with admirer Kid 606 is in similar fashion to his usual M.O. Yes, it's a dancehall project, but other than a few passing nods to the style, Pressure doesn't sound like a dancehall record. Though brutally powerful like the best dancehall records, it sacrifices much of the groove and replaces it with deep yet brittle drum programs; distorted, thudding basslines; and fragmentary shards of dub effects. Every track here has a vocalist, and Martin could hardly have chosen better — the list of collaborators includes a raft of distinctive, contemporary artists, such as Toastie Tailor from New Flesh, Daddy Freddy, the Rootsman, and the inimitable Paul St. Hilaire (a Rhythm & Sound collaborator whose previous handle, not to be mentioned here, was the subject of a vicious cease-and-desist order). Three tracks featuring Roger Robinson are closer to dub poetry, though, and allow Martin even more latitude for his productions; the spine-tingling "Thief of Dreams" recalls a half-stepper Basic Channel production. For those who'd be more interested in dancehall if not for the many crude, formulaic productions, Pressure is the perfect meld of experimental and energetic.


Genre: Electronic

Years Active: '90s, '00s, '10s

Kevin Martin, the main man behind a myriad of projects -- related to experimental ambient (EAR), space jazz (God), hip-hop (Ice), and electronic music (Techno Animal) -- founded the Bug in 1996 for Tapping the Conversation, a heavy dub album (based on Francis Ford Coppola's 1974 film The Conversation) recorded for WordSound with ambient-breakbeat maestro DJ Vadim. Five years later, the Bug returned as a mostly Martin project with Pressure, a record that wrecked dancehall conventions and featured...
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Pressure, The Bug
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