ZOOLOOK Soul Rebel Review

ZOOLOOK – Soul Rebel – Review

ZOOLOOK: Soul Rebel Single Review by Mr Topple for Pauzeradio.com.

We’re taking you back to 2021, today – but for very good reason, as the first track off multi-artist ZOOLOOK’s Jamaican comic book series was a scorcher.

Soul Rebel saw California-based ZOOLOOK release the first of nine original tracks from the Jamaican comic book maxiseries, Dread & Alive: Nine Night. The series is mixed and mastered by Dubmatix – and overall, Soul Rebel serves as a stellar introduction to the project.

It’s a brooding and unnerving affair – dominated by elements of Reggae, Dub, and Trip Hop at points.

For the Reggae elements, the bubble rhythm – a preserve often of the piano – is here played out by a dampened electric organ, which is moulded into the background somewhat. Then, one guitar does a skank at points throughout each bar, while another riffs at intervals. A well-arranged horn section mingles in and out, across rasping across rapid riffs, mixing staccato and legato phrasing for additional emotive effect.

Then, the bass feels unsure of which genre it’s sat it. While the rhythmic arrangement is something of Reggae with its drop-beat pattern, the timbre and overall resonance is nearer to Dub: rounded and elongated in terms of sound. Dub is then heard across the use of reverb which is rhythmic and ethereal.

Trip Hop is also central here – not least the drum arrangement, where a one drop is nowhere in sight. Instead, the kick runs a syncopated riff, while hi-hats tinker in the spaces in between using both closed and open techniques – and the snare finishes off by picking up the rhythmic slack. This Hip Hop-inspired arrangement is then treated to the ‘Trip’ by other factors.

The Ambient use of strings across Soul Rebel feels choral and almost otherworldly – perfect Trip Hop fayre – which is enhanced by use of a chant-like female vocal at points. There are also some classic electronic synths in play, too – like the synth horns, damped and running lilting riffs. The overall chord progressions across Soul Rebel feed into the Trip Hop vibe well, being more complex than would often be seen on straight Reggae or Dub. Starting in a minor key, they evocatively switch to a major at times, and then back again.

Then, there is the Soul Rebel Dub. Interestingly, the drums take a far more prominent role here, in terms of the dB feels slightly elevated and there is a heap of reverb thrown at them to make their presence stronger. The female vocal is made more use of – again with some fantastic use of engineering – while the horns are pared back except for the choruses, bringing in further ethereal vibes.

Overall, Soul Rebel is a highly impressive piece of work: moving, mesmerising, and musically complex in equal measure, it shows ZOOLOOK at the peak of his powers, and is a smart and effecting piece of work.

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ZOOLOOK Soul Rebel Review by Mr Topple / Pauzeradio PR Services (21 April 2024).

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