Wear What's on the Inside: Mari Geti "Tooth Fairy" Album Review
This past weekend was something special; spectacular even. Already feeling great from performing a knock out electronic show under a new moniker (something I may tease more of in the future) I had the chance to take a break and spend time with some old friends; one of whom I hadn’t spoken too for a few years. Mirth and laughter simmered under the springtime sun as we reminisced and filled each other in on our now busy lives. As you can imagine, I was overwhelmed with joy, so I drank copious amounts of alcohol to make up for my happiness. I woke up in my bed (somehow) the next morning, with only the vague memory of falling and hitting my head against the pavement; staring up at the swirling night sky, a ring of teeth coursing with electrons revolved above me. Managing to stand and ignoring the throbbing bump on my head, I made it to my laptop and bared through the strain of staring at its fluorescent screen. Scrolling through the shallow content gutter that’s my Facebook feed, I stumbled onto an image of the very same teeth that haloed above me the night before. The radiated tooth was the album art to experimental Hip-Hop artist Mari Geti’s latest release, “Tooth Fairy”.
Rapping since the tender age of eleven and with over 70 live shows under their belt, this physical manifestation of a purple flurp has established a unique audio/video aesthetic for themselves; saturated in thick coats of grape purple and manic beats. With tracks covering such sensitive topics as cycles of abuse, love, and the animal kingdom, Mari Geti doesn't shy away from any subject, employing humorous could-be one liners to paint the world in their own surrealist vision. While previous albums have been self-produced - they’re a self-taught artist - Mari Geti has handed production duty over to Stimachine (a devotional spastic-beats producer) for this latest musical venture.
What’s always stood out to me about Mari Geti is the absurdity of their style. There’s a persistent sting of humor to their vocal delivery and song arrangement that’s erratic and endearing; it’s as if there’s this infectious smile hiding behind every song, grinning wide beneath a pair of gleeful, almost sarcastic rolling eyes. This is felt straight away with “GO”, as Mari Geti raps in a tone that sounds like they've either just woken up or took a hit of something spacey. This “sure enough” brush-off passivity that’s signature to their lyrical content is presented front and center with the opening line “People come and go, that’s all I know (that’s a fact)”. Production is bright and intense, as the song’s flow is driven by a perpetual stream of vocal samples, crackling synth snippets, and Mari Geti’s lax delivery. Almost every track has this spastic quality to their structure; it’s like listening to a swarm of coarse sound-collages rush by, sparing no time to breath or let the listener make sense of what they’re hearing. Vocals and music are layered on top of each other as the electronics belt and lash out over beats underemphasized when compared to everything else that’s happening with the production. “Good Enough” bites hard as Mari Geti scratches through their lyrics with an inflection both playful and feverish. Sirens and broken glass sprinkle over the dominating kick that rumbles prominently. “Attention” introduces Mari with pitched up vocals (an effect used heavily on this release) that brings Madlib’s Quasimoto persona to mind. The song’s flow is unpredictable, with various beats dropping in and out as Mari relentlessly spews out absurd ego boasting analogies; it’s like being dragged through a middle-schooler’s ADHD fueled daydream. “Good Morning” epitomizes the sporadic energy that’s signature to Stimachine’s production style; kicks are near clipping, synths are bright and resonating, and odd/almost cartoonish samples fly across the mix with an uncompromising determination to startle and captivate.
“Represent” slows things down a bit with simpler production as Mari takes on a sincerer tone, doubting the legitimacy of hypocrites’ bolstered ambitions. This transitions well into “Milkman”, as saucy whispered voices pan and rest over a gentle beat tucked beneath Mari’s assertive lyrics. “Ballin” bursts with resonating lo-fi drum hits that race along with Mari’s rushed lines. While a bit of a pick-me-up from the last two tracks, the way this song revs up builds a sinister sensation of suspense, which brings to mind the nightmarish scenario of being strapped to a rickety neon-lit amusement park ride, waiting in fear of the next rush that’ll propel you off the tracks onto a hard bed of asphalt – this one’s my favorite.
At this point in the album, every proceeding track seems to lose its energy. While “Roadwork” continues the theme of sinister carnival/arcade-esque music, and “Jealous” touts some dreamy scale climbing synth arpeggios, the album’s relentless hyperactivity wares over time; it’s hard to believe something so sonically dense barely breaks 30 minutes in runtime. “HOT FM 1000” is pretty grimy with its wobbling bass and moist trickling water samples; manic voices towards the end complaining about the song’s cut off, bookended by a radio bumper, make me chuckle. “Night Life” and “Edible Arrangement” are a bit uneventful; at this point the eccentricity of the beats is standard, and even Mari Geti’s delivery is the most direct out of any point in the album.
“Tooth Fairy” whirls around with a visceral whimsy that pushes Mari Geti’s production and composition into territories that ooze with dynamic energy and sonic-spontaneity. Compared to the rest of their discography, this release comes across as their most comprehensive and best produced. As much as high-octane energy and colorful production are imperative to their style, some song variety would be welcomed to diversity their catalog. Overtime, one song (or album) blends into the other as Mari Geti’s personality becomes clouded by a fog of indulgent purple static. This isn’t to say they’re not enjoyable to listen to; I’ve enjoyed everything Mari Geti has put out thus far, especially their music videos. “Tooth Fairy” has me excited for how they continue to develop as an artist; the album makes for a great introduction to their compelling persona, and is sure to raise both smiles and eyebrows.