Record Label: Ninja Tune
In Gibson's Neuromancer, when Case and Molly meet the two surviving founders of Zion, there is talk of hearing a "mighty dub" in the Babel of tongues signaling the "final days." If indeed we're living in these "end times," as many predict, then there can be no more of an appropriate soundtrack for the coming apocalypse than The Bug's London Zoo.
The Bug is the main project for Kevin Martin, a producer who has headed a diverse range of projects. He is part of Techno Animal, Ice, and God (all with Justin Broadrick of Godflesh and Jesu), King Midas Sound, Razor X Productions (with The Rootsman), Pressure, and Ladybug; runs his Pathological Records label; and has collaborated with noise jazz outfit 16-17, Pete "Sonic Boom" Kemper's E.A.R. project, John Zorn, Kevin Shields, El-P, and the Antipop Consortium. He has recorded for Rephlex, Position Chrome/Mille Plateaux, Word Sound, Hyperdub, City Slang, Tigerbeat 6, Grand Royal, and now Ninja Tune. He has been personally asked to remix Thom Yorke, Grace Jones, Einsturzende Neubauten, and Primal Scream, and compiled jazz and dub compilations for Virgin Records. London Zoo is the fruition of all these activities.
The album was born of three key moments: an introduction to the thriving dubstep scene (of which The Bug is very much a pioneer from before it carried a name) and its key producers (via Kode 9 and Loefah) where Martin realized there were others on the same sonic trajectory as himself; an introduction to Warrior Queen via his work with Wayne Lonesome on the Razor X Productions project; and a Mary Anne Hobbs Breezeblock session which introduced him to Flowdan (Roll Deep) and Ricky Ranking. All three of these figure heavily in the end result and live presentation.
The obvious entry point to the album is the dubstep tag, particularly after the success of the three lead-up singles, but London Zoo clearly reaches past, brings together, and celebrates reference points from dancehall, grime, hip-hop, and noise--it could have only come out of London sound-system culture, while its appeal spans cities and scenes.
From the opening strains of "Angry" (featuring reggae legend Tippa Irie) it's clear that the world has been served notice from the heart of the UK capital. The message is further strengthened as Ranking (best known for his work with Roots Manuva), Flowdan, Warrior Queen, Spaceape, Roger Robinson, Killa P, and Aya step up to lay waste to the boombastic rhythms put before them, eventually culminating in "Judgement" where Ranking leaves us with a prophecy: "So much people are losing their minds, because we're living in a serious time. I guess it come in like a judgment sign, the people have killing on their mind." Living in end times, indeed. Best start building the Marcus Garvey tug now.
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Joseph Abajian (DJ Jab) founded Fat Beats in 1994 with nothing more than a shoestring budget and an earnest obsession with the music, the culture, and the brotherhood of New York’s burgeoning rap scene. What began as a simple vinyl shop in Manhattan’s Lower East Side quickly became an integral hub for artists, both aspiring and established, to convene and collaborate on new projects. Joseph’s timing couldn’t have been more impeccable. When the 90’s cultural zeitgeist – and, in turn, the music industry establishment – chose hip-hop as its new arbiter of cool.
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