Brood Ma creates a dizzying spectacle of music meant to frighten, unsettle, and overall inform.
While Brood Ma has had some moderate success over the past few years as an electronic artist, his name recognition seems fairly low. Unlike some other artists signed to the label Tri Angle, like the Haxan Cloak who has caught the attention of both critics and Björk, Brood Ma has been slightly slept on. Luckily there's hope for him as what better way to fix his problem than with a commercial album? Okay, maybe it's less of a commercial album than an album with a statement to make on commercialism. On Daze, Brood Ma critiques our fetishism of war and violence, which has catapulted into popular media through films and video games, specifically "the current obsession with survival playtime". So how does he do this, you might ask? Daze produces its commentary by replicating the exact concepts he's trying to critique.
Though described as Brood Ma's "most radically club-oriented release to date", it sounds like the perfect music to any dystopian setting. But don't get the wrong idea that Brood Ma's music is just glorified background music. It's the main attraction. It doesn't need plot or gameplay to bring the music to life because it inspires a story and associated images all on its own.
The first song, "Westerly Spawned" sets the premise up quite nicely. The song starts out with the sound of woodland creatures. And yeah there's a thunderstorm going on, but the track starts off sounding pleasant. Except all of a sudden some creepier sounds come into the mix and the track turns from pleasant to outright foreboding. Eventually a voice starts counting down from ten, and it sounds like someone's trying to launch a spaceship before everyone dies from an alien invasion. For most of the track though, the animals don't seem to have been phased much at all, like a parallel to our horror devouring society. It shows the unreality of it all, begging the question of how we romanticize these themes and why we show so much enjoyment in them.
The nice thing about the theme of the album is that you don't need to have context to enjoy the songs. The music itself is engaging with or without concepts thrown in. Brood Ma is an excellent producer, and every sound he's added has purpose and adds to the mood of his pieces, often a very frightening one. Up until the last two songs, the pieces remains relatively short. Brood Ma doesn't bother dragging out one soundscape for too long, and the album appreciates the chance to move on. Of course, the sound never gets too far off from the last song as the music is steeped in unsettling and panicked sounds. These are the sounds that contribute best to his conjured images. The best songs on the album are ones where we have a chance to paint a more specific image in our heads. The countdown in the opener serves that purpose nicely, allowing us to focus our attention into something a bit more concrete rather than merely guessing at intentions.
The thematic focus remains at the core of Brood Ma's music through it all, and after 10 songs as dark as these, you might be wondering how on earth this could be considered club music. It's definitely an excellent showcase of electronic pieces, but it's hardly commercial. The next two songs however work hard to change that, and Daze's club aspirations start to exist outside the realm of fiction he spends so much time calling out. In these two tracks tension starts to filter out as warbled Rihanna samples rush in. It's penultimate song "Sacrificial Youth" that has the most potential of making you dance while still keeping traditions set in the earlier sections. It makes a good case for being the album's climax as the vocal samples soar above everything else while supported by the intense rhythms Brood Ma has incorporated. The song is futuristic, victorious, and of course a little creepy, and it's a wonderful change of pace from the rest of the album while still keeping the roots of the album intact.
While Daze might not be Brood Ma's claim to instant popularity or while it might not make waves in any anti-"survival playtime" movements, it brings attention to ideas you might have disregarded a long time ago. And it does so without sounding like a sermon (okay I know this couldn't have been that hard considering the only lyrics are warbled samples, but you get the point). What it does have is stimulating music that takes you on a journey, something every piece of electronic music should aspire to. In this way, Brood Ma has created a clear success. Everything else is just icing on the cake.