Kevin Richard Martin aka The Bug and Berlin based, American producer / vocalist Felicia Chen aka Dis Fig have teamed up on a new album In Blue. Though their worlds have merged on this melancholic and hazy album, the pathway to In Blue wasn’t so obvious several years ago. Chen’s dream was to be a jazz singer, while The Bug has long dabbled in various dub and trip-hop rhythms that can be heard in flashes on this album. Dis Fig then left that dream of jazz behind, went to Berlin and joined the club scene and quickly became one of its most exciting new talents.
Bug wrote the exoskeleton for this album in 2018 for a radio show. He had his rough sketches of rhythms, but wanted the right voice to accompany these syncopated walls of deep sub. This led him to Dis Fig, where they exchanged music and the collaboration glued. They worked together over the next 20 months, creating an exciting blend of hazy melodies, seductive lyrics, delicate production and dark pathways for the listener to go down that seem to change in small ways with each listen.
The album opens with a soft ambient table setter “Around Me,” before a sturdy kick gets the LP under way in earnest on “Come.” The echoing and meditative vocals start to really become a dominant feature with “Destroy Me.” The Bug’s trip-hop and dub production past really comes to the fore with tracks like the warbling “Levitating” as the album starts to shift towards the second half. The aptly titled “Blue to Black” ushers in a brief dark and heavy period on the album.
The whispering and swirling white noise on “No Return” feels like you are walking in the back of a wind tunnel before you step out into the dark and crunchy “You.” Eventually life calms down with the ambient finale “Ending In Blue.”
In Blue is a collaboration between two artists who have been able to merge their work into something that feels pretty seamless. It is dark, experimental and can at times feel claustrophobic. In Blue could be a metaphor for 2020 with its heavy rhythms, foreboding melodies and swirling noise that always has a subtle tension throughout. In a turbulent year, a lot music has been able to capture that mood, but few have done that like The Bug and Dis Fig with In Blue. Get the album now via Hyperdub in digital and physical versions and listen below.