Karl has been a freelance writer for over 10 years. He's passionate about music, art, and writing!
"Held Captive," by MAD, is some seriously experimental music. It is glitchy, twitchy and dark. The track is full of tension that sometimes spills over into something ominous and threatening at several points as it unfolds. It’s a combination of thick, heavy bass pulsations along with various glitches and broken sounds that are performed live on digital instruments by MAD. That’s what’s fascinating about this track. It may sound random, but the intentionality of each note means that it was calculated to create this effect. It’s something that takes a fair bit of skill and I have to appreciate that skill.
There are sections that stutter with static and suddenly spike in volume like a broken radio. The whole track is heavy and dark. It truly does create a mental image of someone’s rage, fear and despair at being trapped or held captive. I think this is very much the type of track that operates on the level of creating sensations and images, rather than being “musical” in a traditional sense.
In fact, I feel like this track is most effective when viewed as a sound portrait of a particular set of emotions and feelings. The way I felt when listening to this track was as though I was indeed “held captive” with all of the sensations that entails. It isn’t relaxing but it certainly does challenge the ears and the brain to really feel something.
I will admit that this is music far outside of my usual experience. It feels very challenging to me, but that isn’t a bad thing. Sometimes getting out of a comfort zone is as important as being soothed and relaxed. Sometimes experimentation is a good way to look at music in a new light and take a moment to think about what the concept of music might actually mean to different people. I’m going to be interested to see how MAD approaches his new music in the future.