Marla Mase is truly a force to be reckoned with. The Renaissance woman has her hands in just about every cookie jar in the art world – singing, performing, spoken word, short stories, plays, monologues, and even erotica, because why not. With a strong fanbase all over the world, Mase has even carved a name for herself in the event planning world as the founder of PARTYpoopers and partySWANK, party planning companies for children and adults, respectively. Even with all these plates on her table, Mase still finds time to create mind-blowingly unique music that separates her from the sometimes homophonous indie/DIY music scene.
Speak (Deluxe) features six new songs that weren’t featured on the original album, including the Global Peace Day-inspired “Piece of Peace” and “AnnaRexia,” which finds Mase joining forces Garrison Hawk of dub/drum & bass outfit Method of Defiance. “AnnaRexia” also makes a second appearance (because it’s that good) at the end of the record as a wonderfully trippy dub remix by Bill Laswell. Backed by the Tomás Doncker Band, the record kicks off with the jungle sounds of “Scream (reprise)” and never dares to look back. Mase crafts each song as if it were an album itself, taking meticulous care in every aspect of the song. From the tangible sounds of the instruments to the abstract notions of ambiance, every song on Speak (Deluxe) is a story in and of itself. Mase mixes her strong singing vocals with flowing spoken word, and the transition between the two styles almost goes unnoticeable. This sound is apparent in numerous songs, like the dreamy “Open Up My Heart,” the self-assured swagger of “Lioness,” and the hilarious overanalyzing of “New Cell Phone.”
The album is confident without being pretentious. Mase perfectly inverts the glam rock obsession with hot chicks on its head with “Queen of Imperfection,” in which Mase sings “I’m cracked, flawed, defective/ Just like you are,” along to a catchy rock beat that sounds like it could be off of an early Alice Cooper record. “She Hooked Him Up” has Mase’s easy vocals soaring carefree against a funky bass and guitar, with the song melding in flawlessly with the other completely distinct tracks on the record. In “Kill Love” Mase uses her sweet and chaste-sounding vocals to viciously threaten the concept of love with a serious ass-kicking: “I’m gonna kill love / I’m gonna stab it / Let the blood drip out of it / Until it’s dead,” Mase sings in complete earnest. The variety and creativity on Speak (Deluxe) is endless – if anything, it’s remarkable that Mase was able to fit so many different styles and genres onto one album and not have it be a complete mess.
The record is a window into the mind of a true artist who happens to be too cool to be pretentious. In “Squirm,” Mase declares “I wanna shut this shit down” – suffice to say, Speak (Deluxe) does just that, so we can all have a seat now.