Classified as digital reggae, Soom T & Monkey Marc’s collaborative Bullets Over Babylon is much more apocalyptic bass manifesto than celebratory ragga dancehall. Soom T nods to plenty yet has a voice all her own; Monkey Marc nods to plenty yet crafts beats all his own. Both partners bring swagger and style to sustain such an ambitious dystopian statement.
“Aliens In Jars” ambles in on a foreboding drum loop – paired with appropriately extraterrestrial ambience – before the distinctive vocals soar in. Spitting quickly, Soom T would surely make Dr. Octagon proud with lyrics that include ‘go deep like a dracula, steppin’ over nebulas’ and ‘mining diamonds that put them them bodies in the ground, stone cold earth left lying around, who wins when the fire dies down?’ The auto-tuned outro finds the right balance amidst the murk. Then it’s all “Bullshit” as a slow horn wails, the layered funk drops, and Soom T calls it as it is, emphasising righteousness over the titular thing that weighs modern society down.
The first of three tracks featuring guests, “Complex Simplicity” finds MC Mantra kick-starting an appropriately Eastern vibe in philosopher mode: ‘when the time comes what are you prepared to do, when your time’s up what are you prepared to lose?’ Switching roles, Soom T provides a pair of airy interludes, in between which the groove crashes back in with strings soaring, before contributing the final verse. Bouncy boom-bap, “Drill” channels the sci-fi future of the cover art, Blade Runner meets Animal Farm, in the album’s heaviest and caustic moment. Voices become sound amidst echoes in this musical police state.
Comparatively sparse, “Boom” lets some 16-bit glitches creep in prior to before the deep-like-house bass leads the track forward into Soom T’s explosive advice regarding banks, gas tanks, politicians, and the rest of Babylon. Monkey Marc clearly enjoys switching his productions up in the latter halves, and here it’s a thick dubstep-inspired theme paired with the lighting of matches to create a rather unique soundscape. “Slave” is naturally more darkness, although the jazzy vocal inflections are a stark, but pleasant, contrast to the expectations. When the bass gurgles through, this nears cyberpunk romance.
Combat Wombat is Monkey Marc’s crew – though here it seems to be just him who brings some Aussie swagger to “The Rebellion”. Regardless, it’s the funky groove, inventive transitions, and shouted chorus that combine to turn this into another intriguing tune rather than some obligatory posse cut. “Under The Rubble” is mid-catastrophe, with the organ and sense of dread ‘making us part of the same struggle.’
It’s the economic crisis at the heart of “We’re Sick Of It All,” reinforced by news samples scattered throughout, but Soom T addresses the repercussions as well: from corporate culture to the media to addiction to whatever else is discernible within her frantic flow. Given the overall sense of thematic doom, “Storms Come” has quite the optimistic view, with Solo Banton preaching positivity with lines like ‘life will improve if you fight for what’s right.’ Later, Marina P tells the tale of a fisherman’s wisdom and the futility of battling against the cycles of nature. Here the groove rolls slow, purposeful; a refreshing ending to a vibrant, if not slightly leftfield, musical statement. Cue the thunder.
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