Heavy with urban dread but awake to the promise of a better life.
Louis Pattison 2009
The roots of King Midas Sound were planted when Kevin Martin, industrial dance veteran and the brain behind experimental dancehall project The Bug, set about collecting together vocalists for his 2008 album, London Zoo. Roger Robinson was a good generation older than many of the young MCs that filled out London Zoo, but this Trinidad-born poet and author brought a troubled soul to The Bug track You and Me, and his partnership with Martin soon mutated into a whole new incarnation – King Midas Sound.
The duo’s debut album for Steve ‘Kode9’ Goodman’s Hyperdub imprint shares some of the hallmarks of The Bug; a musical grounding in dub and dancehall, with lyrics steeped in the grit and danger of city living and often shaded with religious notions of sin and salvation. But where The Bug had a hard carapace, firmed up with industrial beats and dubstep bass, King Midas Sound more resembles a phantom presence: a ghostly fog of sound that seeps through air vents and creeps through cracks in window panes. Think Massive Attack at their most sinister, their most fluid – the heavy ganja vibes of Inertia Creeps mixed with the ethereal drift of 100th Window, perhaps – and you’re halfway there.
Robinson is a commanding presence throughout. Cool Out commences with a soft-sung war chant, whispering “We kill soundboys with our Shaolin styles / Run them out the dancefloor wiping tears from their eyes” as the bass bins commence their slow rumble. Earth a Kill Ya’, meanwhile, mixes dusty organ wheezes with hard philosophy: “The earth will kill you if you try to kill it / Your body heals you if you discipline it,” declares Robinson, before summing up his values with a brusque “Live simply!”
This spirit, of course, is also classic Kevin Martin, and it’s testament to his holistic production vision that King Midas Sound works so neatly. Heavy with urban dread but awake to the promise of a better life, Waiting for You feels like a hard-won victory – the kind that tastes all the sweeter.