I love when a musical experiment goes right. Bare Mace hit a positive nerve for me with his first EP release Brief. The title is appropriate, you only get six tracks of unbridled electronic and synth exploration. The tracks were more like phases to me since the album makes you crawl before you can walk into a traditional sounding song.
When you go about listening to this album I recommend adopting a zen approach to it. It is what it is; don’t try to make it something it’s not. Let it do its thing. I wasn’t over the moon at first, but it grew on me, especially once I had listened to it in its entirety.
Bare Mace is comprised of Masan Baran who has spent a good amount of his time in the Midwest, as a Chicago resident. There is something cool about knowing this was made somewhere near my ballpark. Baran studied jazz at Southern Illinois University. The fact that jazz is a part of his education puts a lot of pieces together for me. I could smell it in his music.
As a big jazz fan myself I understood his defiance of typical movement and finality. It’s incredibly cool to me to use jazz tactics in this indie setting. Baran also has a lovely set of pipes. They meld perfectly with his sound. His voice is undeniably indie and is a great tool to solidify what he’s made. He pulls together these clumsy but relatable lyrics, you won’t always know what he’s talking about, but you don’t have to. He’s not afraid to wonder off into his own head and you really can’t help but do then same.
The entire EP is not for everyone. The first five tracks borderline on a spoken word sort of performance. It’s like a multi-layered conversation he’s having with you, trying to work out his vocabulary. You can hear sounds and rhythms start to develop but it’s like they’re not fully matured yet. As you keep going down the list things start to congeal into more solid riffs and patterns. You end on “Bachelor’s, Even,” which is the most traditional song format you’ll get and if you’re a fan of the indie synth vibe you’ll wanna buy it. It’s worth it. It’s worth exploring with him as his work goes through a bizarre puberty and matures into that end result. Granted I imagine there are a few listeners who want the baby and not the labor and will go straight to that end track without a second thought. I won’t judge anyone for doing so, but I will say again, the journey was worth it for me personally.
Baran had mastering support from Zac Schimpf who clearly understood what Baran was trying to deliver. Baran has a history of collaboration with Schimpf and you can tell he works well with others which I always think is a virtue. While I appreciate the journey, I would love a few more traditional sounding songs, but that may not be his aesthetic and I have to respect that. The album is easily described as weird, but there is an honest to goodness method to the chaos.
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