Masma Dream World: Play At Night (Northern Spy, 2020)

October 15, 2020 at 7:31 pm | Posted in Reviews | Leave a comment

Masma Dream World: Play At Night

Masma Dream World is Devi Mambouka, a Gabonese-Singaporean artist who moved from Africa to the Bronx when she was 12, and trains as both a reiki practitioner and a butoh dancer. Her Northern Spy debut is a singular blend of pretty much everything that’s ever made an impact on her, as complex polyrhythms share space with R&B harmonies and backwards chanting. “Knight Wolf” is mesmerizing, with seismic bass and a warped airhorn introing several layers of phantasmic vocals and a slow, throbbing thump. “Theta” similarly feels like an invocation, with its reversed lyrics and ultra-low frequencies. Other tracks incorporate recordings of butoh performances and shamanic chants, while Mambouka’s own vocals are equally transporting. And the album just gets more hypnotic as it progresses, with “Becoming the Magician” being a completely levitating four minutes of slooooooow dub beats and tunneling vocals which nearly morph into throat singing by the end. “RIP” has a similar beat but more of a singular focus on Mambouka’s vocals, rather than echoed-out chants. Really stunning, otherworldly work that a lot of practitioners of otherness could learn a lot from.

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