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The Bug

At the beginning of their development I sort of wrote off Tigerbeat6 Records as a one-note joke of a label, creating music only to mess with people and flip a finger to the IDM establishment. Over the course of the past 2 years, though, they've added a whole slew of new artists, branching out in unforseen directions and have completely forced me to re-evaluate my position. Whereas I once viewed them as little more than digital pranksters, I now view Tigerbeat6 as one of the most vital labels in the United States. Sure, they're still stirring shit up (and I still don't love everything that they release), but they're putting out so much great music (with such variety) that I'm nearly constantly excited by something that they're releasing or will be putting out in the future.

The Bug is a great example of one of the areas that the label is jumping off into, and it's another snarling release on the roster. After setting me up with DJ/Rupture's Minesweeper Suite and knocking me down with Soundmurderer's Wired For Sound, they've dropped another ragga punch to the gut with Pressure. The man behind the sound of the disc is Kevin Martin, which should already give one an idea when it comes to quality. Having released work under a huge batch of names (God, Techno Animal, Curse Of The Golden Vampire, and others), he was the curator of the excellent Macro Dub Infection series as well as the main person behind the punishing Bad Blood by Ice.

As The Bug, he's dropped a series of 7" and 12" releases that have caught the ears of dancehall DJs and others, and Pressure is a continuation of that work, focusing on a mixture of dark electronics and ragga in which a batch of different MCs and reggae singers launch rhymes over. Once a member in the Guiness Book of World Records for fastest M.C., Daddy Freddy makes a perfect entrance vocalist for the disc on "Politicians And Pedophiles." Martin gradually layers on the beats until the song is a swarming mess of both mid and low end grind. Toastie Taylor takes on "Beats, Bombs, Bass, Weapons," and the track lurches between 8-bit combat sounds and crazy shakey beat while Taylor goes from laid-back to attacking.

Musically, the album isn't the most interesting work that Martin has ever done, but it's the wide variety of vocalists and very solid instrumental work that make the release so strong. "Live And Learn" provides a bit of a break, mixing more crooning vocals by Paul St. Hilaire over a slightly less bombastic backdrop while "Thief Of Dreams" again takes a slightly more laid-back road with Roger Robinson providing spoken-word style vocals. In some places, it gets to be a bit too much (the call-and-response of "Fuck Y-Self"), but for all the bassbin rattling thumps and distorted beats, it's still a fairly varied disc that isn't just content to bang away at one speed for 50 minutes. The closing track of "Living Dub," (a remix of the earlier "Live And Learn") is proof of just that, a rich dub track that provides a nice cooldown to the release. Very good stuff.

Rating: 7.5