London Zoo
(Ninja Tune)

recommendedrecommendedrecommended 1/2

Did you hear? The Bug is opening for Nine Inch Nails on their upcoming North American tour. It should be interesting to see how Trent Reznor's black-clad minions deal with Bug mastermind Kevin Martin's low-frequency extremism. Martin's demonic reinterpretation of Jamaican sound-system machinations seems like an ill fit for all those suburban, industrial-rock nihilists, but maybe such cultural friction will result in an exhilarating antagonism.

That last phrase sums up Martin's relationship to the music biz. For nearly two decades, he's gone through several genre mutations, to little financial reward (although a Techno Animal cut did appear in The Acid House). He's spent those years mangling the conventions of free jazz, hiphop, ambient, IDM, and digital hardcore with outfits like God, Techno Animal, EAR, Ice, the Sidewinder, Curse of the Golden Vampire, and now the Bug. London Zoo finds Martin filtering dancehall, grime, and dubstep through Babylon-crumbling production techniques. Several nervy UK vocalists—including Warrior Queen, Killa P, Flowdan, Space Ape, and Tippa Irie—add grit and grace to the Bug's sooty textures, crushing bass pressure, and savage, staccato beats. That being said, Martin can soften his blows while keeping things eerie and tense, as on the Roger Robinson–fronted "You & Me" and the abandoned-warehouse dubstep of "Freak Freak." Hell, "Poison Dart" even has a sing-along hook, thanks to Warrior Queen's cheeky delivery.

Ultimately, though, the meager computer speakers through which I'm listening to London Zoo can't come close to doing justice to the fathoms-deep aural violence here. These tracks should be heard on massive armadas of amps in a place preferably near a hospital, so you can later seek care for your pummeled internal organs.

Support The Stranger

"I want to fuck you like an animal," Reznor famously seethed in "Closer," but the Bug's music does just that—without a six-figure light show. recommended

The Bug performs at the 2008 Decibel Finale Sun Sept 28, Neumos, 8 pm, $20 adv/$25 DOS, 21+. With Warrior Queen.