Devi Mambouka takes on the artist name of Masma Dream World as a way to channel her performance art into music. Her debut full length album ‘Play At Night’ is a deeply percussive and primal recall back to a spiritual ancestry. It features elements of her Gambon and Singaporean background and heavy influence of Butoh – a Japanese spiritual performance. The result is an album that feels Avante-Garde to its very core. It also taps into deep emotions perfect for purging.
The album starts out with eclectic drum patterns and clinks of wooden sticks. For the first three tracks, it feels like you are building up towards a carnival of souls as chants bubble and wisp around you like lost screams. It is really a clever twist when at the end of ‘Back Home’, Masa Dream World begins reversing her speech and we drop into something more horror and ghoul focused than tribal.
‘Knight Wolf’ is something you’d expect from Gazelle Twin on Halloween. The throbbing bass kick drum and the low drone are all that accompanies cries of pain, freedom and thought. Other chants reverse themselves over the screams as if they are an incantation for each cry of scream. It is genuinely haunting and ‘Theta’ continues this thread with claustrophobic drone bass and snippets of chopped up vocals marching towards you like tiny armies.
Masma Dream World then moves into the art of ambient noise. ‘The Eternal Library’ is a distant bustle of bells and noise whereas ‘Bear Lounge’ is a taut vinyl crackling bass riff. ‘The Council’ then merges this empty distant cold world into trip-hop beats and minimal vocals like its stuck on a record on the same section. It is strangely sinister. ‘3:33 AM’ is sinister too but from a vocal standpoint. Devi sings a disembodied ‘la-la’ like a detuned police siren over crawling beats and subwoofer throbbing bass stabs.
The art of Butoh really comes to the fore with the atonal ohm of ‘Becoming The Magician’ with light sho organs bristling underneath the wall of vocal air. It feels like an exit from the dark world as ‘Rest in Peace’ and ‘Before Sunlight’ feel like a rising of life and humanity again. Each track still is creepy as anything I’ve heard all year but there seems to be a zombie waltz to it all that gives hope of a new day.
Let’s be honest – ‘Play At Night’ is niche. It is also incredibly unique and inventive. I’d love to see this as a performance piece on stage as it feels like I’m listening to a really ghostly trance wrapped up in a story. This album isn’t for everyone but if you like anything Avante-Garde, experimental and darker and denser than most electronica created – Masma Dream World maybe your resting place. Play it with the lights off – I dare you.
Recommended track: Sundown Forest
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