Album: Filthy EP
Record Label: Ninja Tune
Even though it's only 4 tracks, the latest from Kevin Martin is a sonic cultural melting point
To anyone reasonably well versed in the underground scenes of UK Grime, Dub, Jamaican Dancehall, Garage, Industrial and even Heavy Metal music, Kevin Martin (aka The Bug) should need no introduction. With a finger thoroughly dipped in each of the aforementioned genres, as well as a plethora of different projects and with a roll- call of the underground's most visionary artists on speed dial, over the past 20 years he's helped shape UK eclecticism in irreversible ways.
Martin's latest release, "Filthy", is not the long- overdue sophomore full- length to succeed 2006's excellent "London Zoo", but even though it's only 4 tracks long it has a wealth of vibes to offer. "Filthy" isn't just about enormous, stinking bass lines. It's also about characters, culture and sonic experimentation. Just like all martin's releases, it brings together a wealth of styles and deliveries into a steaming melting pot of characteristic clashes.
The premise of "Filthy" consists of two original beats produced by Martin, but each time tweaked slightly and given entirely different flavours by the protagonists who perform over them. "Freakshow", featuring Detroit rapper Danny Brown, is the only example of Americanisation here. A ghostly and reverberating female vocal sample swoons in and out before Danny Brown's esoteric, comedic delivery fires off, and he barely pauses for breath. Lyrically it's concerned with the same raw, untamed excess that his 2011 mixtape "XXX" did, so it's Danny Brown's caricature continued with lines like "she look so tacky, pussy smell like crabby patties." The beat itself has a trap style drum inflection, a haunting synth wail over the dark, pugilistic main melody.
"Dirty", featuring long- time associate Flowdan, revolves around the same beat but it's tweaked and stripped down to it's bare bones to maximize the cold, brick- to- skull intensity of the most abrasive of UK Grime. Flowdan's perspective entails societal injustices ("Turned on the 10 o' clock news, I was just disgusted"), as well as providing a summary for the desperate decline in social cohesion current in the UK ("the situation is dirty, fuck that, it's murky.")
The second beat endorsed on "Filthy" is full of hypnotic, rhythmic wobs, rumbling bass and a high brow melody, as well as crisp, spacious snare hits. Daddy Freddy presides over the tainted "Kill Them", assuming the role of the weed- toking, violent London Gangsta through his gnarly Jamaican baritone.
Flowdan re- appears on closer "Louder." He provides a verse entailing a mixture of braggadocious self- proclamation and a unifying community spirit ("We need it Louder, Louder, Louder, Louder"). It's a surprisingly positive slice of straight up London party atmosphere.
Whilst the wait for a new Bug full- length drags on, it's releases like "Filthy" that means we can't forget how important some of the work he does is, not only for UK electronic music, but for cultural identity as a whole. "Filthy" may be more about individual perspectives than general consensus, but it's masterminded in a way that means it's a hub of creativity and collectivism.
Key Tracks: Kill Them ft. Daddy Freddy, Dirty ft. Flowdan
For Fans Of: Techno Animal, Kode9