Featuring Bandulu Dub, opener ‘Babylon Your Days Are Numbered’ mixes a skanking synth with tight bass, while the vocals clearly condemn society’s ills. It is quickly evident: Ras Stone sings best with a purpose, while Dub Terminator shines when the low-end leads and a slight haze creeps in amidst the polished dub effects.
As ‘Give Praise’ filters in, with an EDM pitch to its step and an emotional edge to the auto-tuned chorus, the 140bpm makes it clear that this is targeting the dance hall – not the dance floor – whether it be late-night open skies or grimy warehouses: places where time can more freely expand and contract.
The more organic elements of ‘Good Day’ are refreshing, paired with a popping electronic drum to create a busy modern dub aesthetic; for his part, Ras Stone slowly revels (rather than channeling Ice Cube). ‘Bad Mind’ attacks negativity over a very strong riddim remixed by Jstar, which breathes nicely as drums clap and the bass lumbers.
The intro eases into the groove on ‘Higher Fire,’ which treads carefully allowing the sliding vocals to lead. Horns call on ‘Mamma Africa,’ the album’s mid-point, with the lyrics balancing current woes and future optimism; the riddim lowers its bits courtesy of Jahtari artist Naram.
‘Wickedest Style’ makes it clear who runs things in New Zealand’s dance, before ‘Time’ is explored first at a ‘Party’ and next in a ‘Rebelution.’ The latter plays more to the duo’s strengths, calling specific attention to uprisings and disasters around the globe over a solid production featuring a slightly playful (yet vocally serious) shout-outro. The romantic ‘Love You So Much’ is perhaps a bit indulgent, though it’s still sonically engaging and definitely succeeds in bringing this emotionally-developed album to a close.
Throughout Fyah Level, the two meld modern steppers vibes with irie inspirations to create a unique blend of vocal-driven digital reggae they call “future style roots.” An apt description.