The Bug Vs Earth - Concrete Desert

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  • Kevin Martin has spent much of his career working with other people, from Justin K Broadrick (as God, Ice, Techno Animal and the rest) to the wide range of reggae and grime vocalists that have helped shape his sound as The Bug. Then there's King Midas Sound, his project with Kiki Hitomi and Roger Robinson, whose last album, Edition 1, featured the experimental guitarist Fennesz. His collaborations, while uncannily suited to his guests, always sound intrinsically like his own work. Concrete Desert, his new album with Earth founder Dylan Carlson, is another example of this rare skill. Recent Earth albums—2011's Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light I, and 2012's Angels Of Darkness, Demons Of Light II—give you get a sense of where Concrete Desert has come from. It's not a grinding crush of intense drones, as with the music from the ambient metal group's breakout years. The album is more meandering and spacious, steered by minimal guitar riffs that are amplified into grand aural textures. Concrete Desert is a mammoth record, but it's more meditative than you might expect. The exceptions are "Gasoline" and "Snakes Vs Rats," the album's main sonic assaults. Either of these on the right soundsystem will blow your face inside out. We're used to hearing voices and sensing multiple personalities in the music of The Bug. But Concrete Desert is a solitary record. It was inspired by and recorded in Los Angeles, and fashioned from the sense of alienation Martin has said he's felt when in the States. Like London Zoo, his first album for Ninja Tune as The Bug, Concrete Desert is a response to a real environment. But the album feels less specific to a given city. It seems instead like a parallel space, one that builds an impression of some future dystopia. Concrete Desert isn't without hope. The duo capture that feeling on "Other Side Of The World," which is as close to transcendence as Concrete Desert gets. "City Of Fallen Angels" is soothing, too, until a noisy swell washes in, disturbing the track's stoner guitar riffs. These glimmers of beauty emerge throughout the album, even at its most ground down ("American Dream") and aggravated ("Agoraphobia"). That's the message we should take away from Concrete Desert: that hope, beauty and light can be found even in the darkest spots.
  • Tracklist
      01. City Of Fallen Angels 02. Gasoline 03. Agoraphobia 04. Snakes Vs Rats 05. Broke 06. American Dream 07. Don't Walk These Streets 08. Other Side Of The World 09. Hell A 10. Concrete Desert 11. Dog feat. JK Flesh 12. Pray feat. JK Flesh 13. Another Planet