Photo by Hisao Kishimoto
Words are a big thing for Marla Mase. For her, music counterbalances and complements the vignettes that swirl around in her head. The brief accounts of fear, the blues, anxiety or the hope of fulfilling dreams of acknowledging the inner sexual beast -- these are the themes that drive her. Marla is living in her own skin and wants those who listen to her music to be comfortable in theirs as well. Her latest EP, Half-Life, might be a metaphor for Marla's excursion into embracing the next life while she's in the present life shuffling off the mortal coil. Or simply that she's entering a chapter when the troubles of daily life can sit side by side with the rewards.
Regardless of the impetus, not wanting to drown in the blue, Marla would rather abandon the strife: walk, talk and work on high-speed before the blue sneaks up and imprisons. She knows that magic exists in the grayer spaces -- the undefined. And for her, the dichotomy of being both introverted and extroverted is to be or not to be in one's own life.
What does her music sound like?
It sounds a little tribal, a little rock, a little jazzy, a little bluesy, a little funky, but most of all cathartic. Although Half-Life starts off on a rock vibe, her lyrics, whether sung or spoken, are brilliantly backed by The Tomás Doncker Band, which adds roots to the soundscape. In fact, the groove in Marla's effort is due to Doncker's Global Soul movement, of which she is a member. For instance, Mike Faulkner's drums and Bill Laswell's bass on "The Heart Beats" are what make the piece dimensionally earthy up against Marla's spoken words. Meanwhile, the EP gets funky with "Things That Scare Me" as Mark Henry's sax drives the piece. The endeavor gets light with the acoustic blues on "Drown in Blue (Reprised)" and the jazzy rhythms on "Hold Fast Your Dreams". One can say that the musicians capture the global while Marla delivers the poetry.
Her eyes hypnotic, she seems to be in the act of becoming herself.
Marla has beaten the odds of her neurosis, yet still disjointed and uncomfortable, she is the main actor on her stage. To get the gist of her spoken words, she seductively ends the title track "Half-Life" with,
Hey I am a practical woman and I get what I want. I am a practical woman who believes in magic, who insists on it, not just in the nighttime, but all the time and not just with you, but in everything I do...
Though, sorry to say, her lyrics at times fall into the abyss when she throws everything but the kitchen sink in some songs like "Things That Scare Me." And without the percussions backing "The Heart Beats" Marla's message may sound a little too mathematical. In spite of that Marla's "Gaping Hole" song does hit the heart, for we all can relate to that space in us that needs to be filled. And we all want to reserve a place in our heart for dreams.
While Marla is reaching her half point, some of us may have already been there while some of us are on the threshold. Nevertheless, we do reach that point eventually.
You can listen to Marla Mase's EP Half Life on BandCamp.