One of the many things I love about music of a foreign language is the mystique of the lyrics. Not having any grasp of the language adds an additional element to unlocking the mystery of the music. The cover-notes of Imandra Lake’s Avane don’t contain any assistance.
With their powerful pitch-perfect and drawn-out harmonies, no intelligible software is going to decipher this. Forget the translation; the lyrics are mine to imagine, and the journey is mine to create–like an old “choose your own adventure” novel. With this simple musical nuance, my mind has been opened and I’m ready to travel. That’s exactly what this album does: it tantalizes the senses and ignites the imagination.
There’s a constant dreamy array of harmonized vocals that are backed by well-produced synthesized sounds, guitar, percussion, and a deep, prolonging bass. Melodies persistently accompany these cascading vocal arrangements as they lead the other components within the music towards an elegant integration of down-tempo, ethereal, and “heavenly voices” style elements. Plug every line into a reverb pedal, and off you go.
There are few records where I can group the track list in an all-encompassing description. Avane is one of these very rare examples. From “Voo” to “Oo Puhkab”, the tempo is constant without an elementary percussive style. The instrumentation and repertoire are consistent, only occasionally seeming repetitive. Don’t be perturbed by this, as each track has a particular charm, a purpose and place on the album. Avane builds like the chapters of the aforementioned style of novel. Occasionally, a surprise eclectic overtone awakens you from the shamanic journey you are being guided on. Like a scratch on your overplayed vinyl, it has no place and at first seems annoying, yet it takes you back to the music.
At times, I wonder if Imandra Lake are Estonia’s answer to Enya, especially with tracks like “Maa Poleb”. But then I’m overcome by the disappointment of Avane not containing more of her intensity. It would give the album that familiar surge of emotion, which I think Avane could occasionally use. That said, music that is down-tempo and dreamy can be depressive, but Avane is surprisingly uplifting in a unique, casual sense. It won’t get the party started and I doubt that it would end one either. It will certainly assist the next morning when you begin the long journey of restoring bodily function though, and if you’re anything like me, this record will never be too far away.
04) Soovid Soovid
06) Maa Põleb
08) Häbi Ots
09) Kaks Vööd
10) Öö Puhkab