Having released their first single, You, last month, Kevin Richard Martin returns to the fold as The Bug and this time he teams up with Berlin-based vocalist, Felicia Chen, a.k.a. Dis Fig.
The result is In Blue. A moody, multi-layered silhouette of sounds that drift like fog and feed into every crevice of the very tunnel this album was seemingly conceived in.
Martin produced most of this mix in 2018 for a radio show, but with the inclusion of Fig’s vocals, these mixes have a whole new life – her melodic moodscapes tip-toeing between the shards of fragmented dubstep rhythms then gliding through the misty trip-hop-inspired beats.
For Fig, this project is a substantial side-step, for she had previous aspirations of being a jazz singer. After spending some time with In Blue, it’s evident that she has now found her place.
Fig‘s voice soars on opener, Around Me, as she sings, “You wrapped yourself around me”. A simple verse on the surface of things, but it sets the scene for an album that emits the cold feeling of eerie isolation.
The low-fi hum of Come crackles and simmers beneath The Bug’s juddering sub-bass, while Destroy Me is immaculately mixed with Dis Fig‘s voice fading and disintegrating with fragments scattering across the creative canvass.
Blood, Forever and No Return collectively possess the quintessential “tunnel sound” that Martin described the album as, leaking with a cadence that spells solitude. Music that’s essentially inspired by deep black holes.
Then there’s Levitating, which completely captures the essence of In Blue. The Bug‘s mind-warping bass rhythms and elusive trip-hop ear worms coil around Dis Fig’s drowsy delivery that’s half-way spoken-word, half-way soulful. A cut that drips with the true spirit of this album.
Blue to Black finds us deep in the bowels of the tunnel, with a mix shrouded in hazardous discord. Dis Fig relents as opposed to kicking against The Bug‘s harsh tones – a track Martin clearly takes ownership of.
Take is another clear highlight. Possessing the heaven-riding melodies Martin produced with King Midas Sound’s Solitude, equally, it’s the kind of cut that could have penetrated the chaotic space he carved out during London Zoo.
Lead single, You, unfurls with yet more dystopian fragile drones which leads us into the closing track, End In Blue. Fig’s vocals loop, planting the seed of uncertainty and tension – a voice fully immersed in the The Bug‘s cinematic mist-laden sculptures of sound that are so sharp they manage to glisten like a blade penetrating through the darkness.
In Blue is filled with thick rolling blankets of fog that most would try and escape from in pursuit for brighter landscapes. It’s 2020, though, and both The Bug and Dis Fig seem firmly entrenched within the milieus of this deep vortex. Listeners should be, too. Not dissimilar to Martin‘s collaboration with Roger Robinson as King Midas Sound, this too is an album to engage with alone.
It may just be all one needs to get through this impending, perilous winter.
In Blue is out now via Hyperdub.