Mart Avi

OtherWorld

Avicorp

Jan 03, 2019 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


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Step inside the mind of Mart Avi and you may never leave. OtherWorld is the Estonian vocalist/producer's fourth album and his ultimate statement of intent, the final collision of his conscious desire to test the boundaries of experimental arrangements with his inescapable affinity for creating harmonious ear-pleasers.

To attempt to categorize OtherWorld would be to make your first mistake. Avi himself has conjured the term "quant-soul" for it and that'll do nicely. It doesn't exactly mean anything specific, but it evokes a sense of the nighttime and the myriad menaces and opportunities that it presents. In other words, it describes OtherWorld in a nutshell.

The record is at its best when Avi gives free rein to his most erratic impulses. "Here Future Smells Like Perfume" is charged with a powerful sense of forward motion, like a locomotive emerging out of a fog cloud of treated electronics. There is a controlled mayhem to the track, with the sound of breaking glass laced throughout, lending the sense of sober nocturnal threat that is so instrumental to OtherWorld's aesthetic.

Much like Burial, Avi understands how to integrate familiar real-world elements to evoke the paranoia and fear at the heart of the 21st century experience. "Let Me Be Me" uses dial up tones amongst others in its panicky, clattering concoction, but there is a sense that this time the organic sounds are starting to win, not least Avi's own vocals, which call to mind the great Billy Mackenzie. We hear Avi begin to open up, too, but it remains unclear whether we are gaining a glimpse into an impossibly complex mind or into a voice of reason amidst an impossibly complex world.

The closest we come to conventional is the track "Back 2 Light: Okeanos," although everything is relative. It does provide a certain clarity of sound, with Avi's vocals truly front and center for the first time. Damn it, there even a hummable melody line. It'll not be winging its way up the Billboard 100 any time soon, but as an entry point into this confusing world, it's your best bet.

As OtherWorld progresses, it becomes ever more reflective, with "Half-Life" finding somber shades in between bass-y synth notes and a calming rhythm. Suddenly there is space in the mix and the shift to poignancy continues into "The Silent Trespasser," a showcase for the full extent of Avi's repertoire of modulated sounds.

There is a hauntological beauty to Avi's quietest moments but there is no doubt that he is at his most captivating when he lets his anarchic juices flow. His ability to find connections and meanings in the darkness is his finest quality and for those with a wandering ear, OtherWorld is one of 2018's most underrated gems.  (www.martavi.bandcamp.com)

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legal paper size
January 7th 2019
7:41am

In Avi’s OtherWorld, old captains are microchipped, given a VR visor and set ashore to a deceptively smooth soundtrack. Somehow this music also suggests that the inner monologues in Hopper’s paintings have been thrust into a new plane(t)scape and made into mystery pop; with Avi playing at being both the sonic hunter and the hunted. It’s the inner pop sound that propelled Marvin Gaye to go to the provincial Belgian town called Ostend and play darts with the locals.”