German producer/DJ rooted in the club scene flourishes in solitude
Electronic producer, DJ and founder of Poker Flat Recordings, Steve Bug, drops Never Ending Winding Roads, an 11-track LP essential to the evolution of house music. Beginning his career in the early ’90s, Steve Bug holds prominent roots in Germany’s club culture; this scene, combined with his experiences from touring around the world, provides great significance to the influence of Bug’s classical yet edgy, experimental sound.
Back in 2018, Bug worked with Langenberg to release their collaborative LP, Paradise Sold; now, in 2020, with the COVID-19 pandemic coming into play, Bug was inclined to work solo. Never Ending Winding Roads was monumental for Bug as an artist, as he made most of these tracks during lockdown in his home studio, sending a homage to his 15 years of work in the nostalgic space. Representing themes of solitude, contemplation and reflection, this album reflects the year 2020 as a whole.
“My mindset when making Never Ending Winding Roads was completely different to any other project I have embarked on. I didn’t have to tour and instead could focus 100% on writing music without having the dancefloor as a constant influence,” says Bug. “This allowed me creative freedom to explore a range of styles and emotions, and as a result, it is the album I feel most satisfied with to date.”
In Never Ending Winding Roads, Bug experiments with broken beats evolved from elements of techno, acid-house and dance music, providing his audience with 11 differentiating tracks of vibey background music for a laidback, groovy setting. Beginning each track with a hypnotic synth line, the record is filled with experimental uses of arpeggios, down/high-tempos and layering bass and drum lines that give the audience an exciting yet dark vibe from Bug that they haven’t heard before.
“Ludic Loops,” the opening track, is somewhat of a disappointment, as it holds a very consistent rhythm and basic synth line; however, as the track continues, people will be surprised with a pulsating beat and echoic undertones that make the track work. The next track, “A Conscious Machine,” makes up for the previous monotony, as it provides a more radiant beat with loud drums and a groovy, hypnotic dance feel. In an interview with electronic groove, Bug tells people that he spent an hour just jumping around in his studio, enjoying the especially dancey beat; when people listen to this, they may just find themselves jumping around as well.
Listeners find several house-flavored beats on this album, such as “Locked Away in My Head,” which highlights deep house and the use of cymbals, while “The Clock Is Ticking” gives people more of an old-school house vibe with distinct vocals recorded by Bug himself. On tracks seven and 10, people find a more atmosphere-focused house presence, from the slow-melodic intro on “The Awakening” to the static-y, yet soothing rain and wind atmosphere of “Raindance 101.”
On tracks four, six, eight and nine, fans get a mixture of electronic techno and dub, with “Yellow Snare” providing a specific vintage taste of groovy club music and “Confidence Dub” focusing specifically on the simplicity of dub. “Hijacked Minds” and “Electro Harmonix” are more simplistic songs with basic drum lines and fast-paced melodies.
The last track on the album, “Upon Mountains,” concludes the piece, providing the audience with a cosmic, melodic arpeggio that relays a video-game sounding, techno rhythm. Bug explained that the overall makeup of this album provides somewhat of a dark edge, as most of his music has a Detroit/Chicago influence and often reflects a mood of darkness to which he sometimes falls prey. However, as this is the brightest tune of the album, Bug wanted to leave his audience with a positive feeling.
Overall, Never Ending Winding Roads is a fun, introspective and exciting album to listen to for lovers of experimental, house, electronica and techno/dub.