Kevin Martin's new project King Midas Sound couldn't be more aptly named. As the man behind a hugely diverse spread of dub-drenched alter egos and musical pseudonyms, from The Bug to Techno Animal to God to Pressure, whatever he touches always turns to gold.
But those expecting the barely-contained audio aggression of The Bug from his new album, 'Waiting For You', out 30th November on Hyperdub, may just lose their shit.
"I was starting to get really pissed off with people pigeonholing my music, who I am and what I do," Martin rallied. "The music industry as a whole and the media certainly have a vested interest in making one-dimensional characters out of people involved in music, it's like you're only allowed to be one thing. My interests are vast, my tastes are absolutely eclectic and I'm feeling quite constrained within The Bug image. I was looking for something at the other end of the spectrum."
King Midas Sound is a different creature indeed. With renowned Trinidadian poet and singer Roger Robinson at the helm — whose delicate falsetto voice and resonant tones fit perfectly with Martin's beats — he's made an intensely atmospheric record, dubbed out to infinity, a 21st century soundsystem clash of deep basslines, melancholic songs and hazy hip-hop beats: desolate dub reggae, 2.0.
"I said to Roger, fuck the poetry, let's get stuck into a really heavily atmospheric, sad, melancholy album. I wanted to go to the opposite end of the scale, I don't want to do something aggy, I want to do something so deep, so completely zoned out," Martin revealed.
'Waiting For You' is a clamber through post-apocalyptic London, where spine-tingling sonic ghosts float amidst the psychic wreckage. Born from urban decay, the album has a wraith-like, elegiac beauty a million miles from Martin's previous production incarnation. Songs like 'Lost' coast on creepy Black Lodge upright bass tones and shattered fragments of breakbeat, while 'Cool Out' is an echo deck, sinister nursery rhyme sing song, a declaration of malevolent intent towards any other soundsystems daring to challenge their authority. But one of the biggest surprises is 'Earth A Kill Ya', a spectral, Shaolin temple of sound, which sees Roger revert to poetry mode, accompanied by the haunting backing vox of Hitomi from Japanese dub band Dokkebi Q. Robinson's commanding voice delivers a potent ecological warning of our need to live in harmony with the planet before we destroy it, and it destroys us.
"It's about how to be connected for your own wellbeing," says Roger. "But it's not to preach. In a weird way it's about being green and ecologically aware before that was on the world agenda."
With its existential, post-millennial dread, King Midas Sound is a brave new dawn for dub-wise music. "With King Midas, the challenge really was to work within conventional structures, but to upgrade dub," Martin mentioned. Let the golden years commence…