Release Date: Dec 8, 2009
Record label: Hyperdub
Genre(s): Electronic, Experimental, Dub
Inconspicuous as it was, King Midas Sound's 2007 unveiling -- on the Soul Jazz label's first Box of Dub compilation -- was a well-defined statement of purpose. A vaporous yet rugged production from Kevin Martin (Techno Animal, the Bug), "Surround Me" slithered and moaned with seductive black-hearted dread projected by poet (and Bug accomplice) Roger Robinson, a Trinidad and Tobago native whose upper-register whispers could have been recorded as his tear ducts were about to activate: "I'm with my lady, but you know it ain't easy. " From there, KMS took an indirect route to their first album.
The Bug's London Zoo aged well over the past year: It still stands as one of the more exciting albums of 2008, a roots-heavy dubstep/dancehall crossover with rib-cracking rhythms and an amazing guest roster of singers and toasters that stands as a remarkably distinctive collection of voices. But there was a surprise harbinger in that album, a song that my original review actually completely overlooked due to-- or maybe despite-- a stripped-down, ambient eeriness that offset the rest of the album's aggro-beat feel. That song was "You & Me", a strikingly delicate yet powerful collaboration with the soft-voiced singer/poet Roger Robinson.
A flashing LED on the abandoned mixing desk beats an off-centre syncopation against the sparse kick-snare pattern, emerging from the three backlit, clouded figures ahead. Behind whispered dub poetry and ghostly, barely-there wisps of feminine voice, the sub-bass is a shadow, a thick and viscous tar that binds each base element to one another, creating an elastic structure with room to flex. Voices flit from speaker to speaker, thrown back and forth between the two central figures like weapons – sometimes soft and blunt, occasionally vicious and barbed, as croon gives way to hard-edged spoken word.