Tuesday, April 18, 2017

TMW #1 - Mart Avi

Recently I was in Estonia for the Tallinn Music Week. Saw a bunch of interesting bands  -  and this is the first in a series (probably) of posts about the ones that caught my ear / eye.

An intriguing performer I saw  - twice! - at TMW 2017 was Mart Avi.


Avi's live presence doesn't fully come across from  the available YouTube videos, but you do get a flavour of his thing, which -  crudely - I would situate as Billy Mackenzie meets Thomas Leer (but if Leer was using today's technology, including voice-processing software).

In some ways it could be a missing "aftershock" from the end-part of Shock and Awe - Euro Eighties neo-glam aesthetics meets modern R&B. I also felt the occasional memory-frisson of Scott Walker circa Climate of Hunter.

The live performances involved backing tapes (shades of Cabaret Futura) and stylized movements from Avi, who was clad in a vaguely Comintern-era raincoat - evocative of private eyes or spies. For one song he had a whole routine involving an umbrella. The voice is big -  really big  - to the point where it feels unlikely that such a billowing gaseous sound could emanate from such a willowy frame.

This is Mart Avi's most recent album Rogue Wave, from late last year.


Chatting with Mart in person (briefly) and via email (less briefly) I came away with the impression of a chap with a lot of ideas behind what's he doing. The promo for  "Blind Wall," for instance, is inspired by his "obsession with rapidity, overwhelming force, "Crash" n glamour, going much too fast - the manifestation of such themes in exquisitely designed vehicles to be precise".  The video is conceived as a response  (or "potential aftermath") to Future's "Poppin' Tags", with a lyrical nod to Gloria Jones (as in she who was at the wheel when Bolan smashed into that tree), all encased in a production-vibe that aims for a "plastic covered in chrome" sound-texture suggestive of "hyper-yuppie-mutant-soul". But unlike with a lot of conceptronica, the thoughtful thoughts don't get in the way of  - nor are they necessary to activate - the seduction effect. 

Here is some of Mart Avi's earlier music.

More to explore at https://martavi.bandcamp.com/