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Format: 2xLP


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Audiopile Review: Kevin Richard Martin has had a long, varied, and intense career. Emerging out of the grit and grime of late-’80s London, he made some serious noise with God and Techno Animal. But it was as industrial-strength dancehall beatmaker The Bug that Kevin Martin really made his name. All of which has logically led him to ‘Black’, which is… (checks notes) a dark ambient tribute to Amy Winehouse? Yep, a pretty darn weird concept, but it has honestly led to some of his most rewarding new music in years. Martin is such a master sonic sculptor that some of his recent releases have bordered on sounding sterile. But ‘Black’ has an earthy soulfulness that Winehouse would surely approve of. It rides a dubbed-out, cinematic vibe, and even gets a little jazzy (Martin is, among other vocations, a saxophonist). Practically, this puts ‘Black’ at the midpoint between later-period Loscil, Bohren & der Club of Gore, and Ulver’s soundtrack work. If you have not been keeping up with this guy’s output, ‘Black’ is the perfect place to jump back in. When the slooow beat kicks in on ‘Love You Much…’, it recalls the first King Midas Sound album. And it’s the best thing this dude has done since that masterwork.


Long-awaited vinyl release for this critically acclaimed album from October 2023. “Black is a musical eulogy to Amy Winehouse, a heartfelt memorial to a sorrowful demise. It’s an album of predominantly beatless ambience possessed by the ghost of ‘Back to Black.’ Fragmented moods and hypnotic drones melt together as its circular beauty is set adrift, floating away into an endless void, where the original only remains in spirit alone. It doesn’t make particular sense why I was drawn to this idea and compelled to immerse myself in the original song, and her life in general, but sometimes you just have to roll with your muse. Having barely registered her whilst she was alive and not cared for Mark Ronson’s poptastic productions, it was only when I heard of her tragic death that it struck an unexpected chord, recalling the same surreal emotional impact as when I had heard of Kurt Cobain’s premature passing previously. Both figures were unarguably gifted, but both left this planet largely without essential support, whilst they were at the peak of their powers and on top of the musical world. Gone too soon and departed too young, a world-weary voice carried on a downward spiral, Amy Winehouse seemed trapped in her self-destructive descent. It was only years later, whilst randomly watching Asif Kapadia’s moving bio doc Amy on a long-distance flight, that I realized the scale of her greatness and the tragedy of the circumstances that led to her untimely death. This album is simultaneously a treatise on lovelessness, tragedy and loss, echoing the absence of a support network when it matters most during such a freefall. And just as myself and others I know shed tears watching that Amy documentary, this album is as much a reaction to the universal emotional themes conveyed within that touching documentary as to the tragic life of Amy herself. I have been working on the idea of this sonic album for over a year, and the slo-mo dream rotations remain as blurred and impressionistic as they are repetitive and haunting. An eerie cocktail of spectral jazz, shoegaze drone and dubbed out ambient music, it continues the solo path I have been developing as KRM. I hope it strikes a chord.” –Kevin Richard Martin

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