Rephlex - 2003 - 55 minutes
Dancehall, a frenetic spin-off of reggae with roughneck vocalists and clattery breakbeat-driven production has previously been the chosen listening of a select few in this part of the world. 'Pressure', The Bug's unique take on the dancehall genre could easily introduce the sound to a host of new listeners.
'Pressure' is released on Rephlex, a highly influential electronica label that numbers the Aphex Twin, Squarepusher and Drexciya in its back-catalogue. This offers a major clue to the direction that The Bug is taking dancehall, upping the complexity and dissonance of the rhythms and adding some minimalist electronic adornments to the basic conventions of the genre.
His background in avant-garde projects such as GOD and ICE is obvious at all times, but he cleverly avoids indulgence by sticking loyally to dancehall's essential structure. The result is as banging as it is stimulating.
Opener 'Politicans and Paedophiles' is a straight-up bass-heavy monster with cutting wordplay from Daddy Freddy, a Guinness Book record-holder as World's Fastest MC. 'Executor' is smoother and darker, a nightmarish throbbing supporting the Dantesque visions of Roger Robinson's reggae poetry.
'Killer', the collaboration with He-Man and the Rootsman, first surfaced last year, causing serious ripples in the worlds of dancehall, jungle and electronica. It sounds just as good here, its heavy distortion occasionally crushing the MCs into walls of raging sound as the beat keeps pounding.
In interviews, The Bug name-checks Adrian Sherwood, the man who brought a curiously English electronic sensibility to dub reggae in the 1980s through his On-U Soundsystem. The Bug has achieved something similar on this red-hot collection. Fresh, energetic but still innovative and interesting, 'Pressure' is a shining beacon in a scene that has recently seemed tired.
Turn up that bass, this is going to explode.
Tracklisting: Politicians and Paedophiles - Beats, Bombs, Bass, Weapons -Executor - Live and Learn - Thief of Dreams - Superbird - Run the Place Red - Night Steppa - Some Days - Fuck Y-Self - Killer - Living Dub