, February 23rd, 2016 21:16
It could just be me, but there seems to be a new trend to label records that barely stretch beyond 25 minutes in duration as "albums", which, although I don't want to come across as some sort of uptight snob, is misleading at best. There can be cases, such as Consumer Electronics brittle full-on assault Estuary English, where brevity helps underline an album's power and impact: in the case of Estuary English, the ferocity of the group's depth charge blend of brutalist techno and lyrical misanthropy would be hard for them to sustain over an extended duration. But more often than not, as with, for example, Delroy Edwards' Teenage Tapes from 2014, it's hard to escape the sense that you're being fobbed off with an EP masquerading as an album, something which colours any appreciation of the sounds within with a sense of being cheated. Again, maybe that's just me, but Brood Ma's Daze certainly fits into that category.
It's all the more frustrating because the London-based producer has enough energy to power a ferry, two locomotive trains and a small fleet of Nissan Micras. Each of the 13 tracks (13 at just over 28 minutes in total - do the maths) overflows with a myriad details and sonic flourishes, from hypnotic techno beats to bursts of noise via grim industrial synth lines and throbbing sub-bass. This enthusiasm is infectious, as tracks bounce into one another, propelled by a seemingly indefatigable and fractured, yet coherent, train of thought. Indeed, the 13 pieces feel more like a continuous suite, as Brood Ma cranks up or slows down the pace at the behest of his instincts: the transition from the seesawing scissor oscillations and pinball beats of 'Hard Wear' to 'Thorium Mox''s brooding atmospherics and crumbling EDM breakcore is a particularly judicious juxtaposition. The track titles are often clever and amusing ('Goldman Sax', 'Molten Brownian Motion', 'Nrg Jynx') and/or hint at a modern dystopia that is simultaneously building up and crumbling down around us, fed by rabid consumerism and commodified humanity ('Sex Compressor'). Taken on its own terms, the aptly named Daze (it moves at such a pace you will feel exhausted after listening to it), can be seen as a hyperactive reflection of modern, albeit only urban, life.
It's a trend that has had wings of late, the appraisal, through hard-hitting rhythm and gritty post-industrial atmospherics, of the plight of the modern human, and when Brood Ma gets all his dice in a row, he comes close to nailing it. But more often than not, his attempts fall short because of their sheer hyperactivity: it's like being shouted at by an angry teenager who has something he really objects to but can't tear his eyes away from Minecraft for long enough to really articulate. In some ways, that's an almost perfect simile of the digital age Brood Ma (and Oneohtrix Point Never or James Ferraro, in a different way) is having to navigate, but it doesn't make for an enticing or rewarding experience as he bounces loudly from one blast of overkill to another, mutating every strand of electronica of the last 20 years into a giant overdriven soup as he does. Again, I'm afraid it comes down to length. Sometimes, such as on the ambient-tinged 'Dim Returns', a hint of something more developed starts to reveal itself, only to be whisked away by a blur of percussion and noise after only a minute-and-a-half. I get what he's doing, but a bit more time to explore it would not have lessened Daze's potency.