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You’re lost in the ambience of it all. Out of breath, dirty, transfixed by the beauty of nature that seems unflinching to the happenings around it. Gazing at your reflection in the water stream, there’s a moment of ambivalence as the sounds of the insects surround you, encapsulating the world beneath the sun as it falls lower and lower. Nightfall is near. Your adrenaline surges with the looming violence in the background approaching, completely unwavering, its sound growing louder and more intimate. The Zaroffian nightmare is far from over, and even though you haven’t fully regained your composure, you know it’s time to run again. The hunt is on. The memories that preceded this are lost under the weight of their newly earned insignificance. And the only thing that bears importance to you is that newfound thirst for life, a feeling spurred by the near-guarantee of your forthcoming death.

But you press on, giving more than you ever imagined possible of yourself. Impressed with your own resilience, you realize running isn’t the answer, nothing more than a prolonged silence that hushes your eventual response. And what will your response be? Situations are rarely so black and white, but in this world it boils down to kill or be killed. After all you’ve been through these past few days, you’re not going to roll over and be killed.

And that’s it. The final spark ignites inside you. Strip away your uneasiness and become what you’ve feared most. The hunted becomes the hunter as you lose sight of yourself at the hands of endurance. You’re Rambo-meets-Rainsford, an unstoppable being hell-bent on making it. And as they draw closer, you take on a new form, one of adrenaline, lost in a DAZE of euphoric instinct and intuition. It’s a dystopian bloodshed, signified by the death of your captors and of your own innocence. Morality, youth, composure. All gone. The end is now, haunted by flashes of your recent rush of turmoil. You’ve lost what it means to be human, but you’ve won the game.

It’s a great story, one that’s stood the test of time by over a century, but can it make for a great album? Brood Ma’s debut on Tri Angle Records attempts to bridge the gap between storytelling and the growingly popular dark methods of creating electronic soundscapes. The thunderous bookend of the album acts as the only real semblance of connection to a tale so subtle it can be easily missed without a heightened sense of focus. At its least intricate, tracks like “Dim Returns”, “Nrg Jynx”, and “Molten Brownian Motion” can be characterized as dystopian bangers, the kind of music to dance to after the end of days have long passed.

But DAZE is also a statement on consumerism; our willingness to eat up virtual dependency at the cost of social interactions and the always-present issues that come with products, status, and misguided power and wealth. Laden in obscured samples, DAZE excels most in its potency and formulation of a political agenda and stance on the closed-curtained malfeasances that everyone unknowingly gets strung along through. It’s a warped observation, one of cynicism and distortion, heightened by the use of obtuse, abstract designs. It’s no accident “Social Re-Entry” is followed by “Sacrificial Youth”, or the chaotic jazz explosion on “Goldman Sax” lasts all of thirteen seconds. It’s a purposed album, one whose intricacies fly by at the sight of unwavering attention.

And yes, it’s easy to get caught up in describing the political and social implications of DAZE given how thickly coated it is in them. But above all, this is an instrumental album that needs to stand on its own, stripping away any plot or conceptual undertones that can be used as a crutch. And once you do so, it remarkably still functions as an unparalleled approach to bite-sized electronica. Naturalistic samples are paired seamlessly with industrial ones, creating an uncomfortable realm of forced cohesion. It plays as one continuous motion, each pulsing drum beat drifting into the next array of glitchy atmospheres. But if there’s a downfall to be had with the album’s sound, it lies in the thematic approach, one so fundamental it seems unavoidable; however inexcusable. The concept of everything passing by in a blur is executed perfectly, but when music whizzes by at light speed, it can be difficult to maintain a sense of memorability. Unless you watch the track listings, the discernibility from “Westerly Spawned Lamb” to “Well Equipped” or from “Sex Compressor” to “Dim Returns” can slip right by in a haze of concealed fluidity. In spite of this, the feelings of ever-growing claustrophobia are never lost, sparing no moment to regain equanimity.

Brood Ma uses this rush as a springboard; chronicles this story of survival, whether it be survival against predators, against the establishment, or against our darkest imagination. It’s a journey, one in which the protagonist, you, must shed your ideals and sense of self in an effort to retain what it means to exist. It’s quick, never stopping to pause and look around. There’s a sense of impedance, furthered by the chaotic electronic dissonance of it all. Maybe it’s a virtual reality, something of simulation that only gives the feeling of apocalyptic barrenness, one in which the manifestation of inhumanity that chases you can be turned off at the flip of a switch or the press of a button. The glitches become increasingly less noticeable, this world indistinguishable from our own. Who’s to say what’s real or not, to claim which realities are the product of dreams or of digitalization, given a complete lack of separation? In a growingly processed world, Brood Ma’s foreboding tale of destruction and redemption feels diminishingly artificial; unshakably soon.

– Zach W.