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The Soul Of The Machine

Music | Bittles’ Magazine: The music column from the end of the world

Fans of graceful soundscapes and bittersweet electronica are probably already familiar with the name Mario Hammer And The Lonely Robot. 2015’s  L’esprit De L’escalier for Cologne label Traum was a cerebral and mesmerising journey into the soul. With the highest of production values, and an open-hearted emotional core, its thirteen tracks of soft-focus ambiance were, and still are, a rare treat for the ears. By JOHN BITTLES

This month the Düsseldorf-based artist re-emerges from a brief hibernation with the gentle synths and hazy atmospherics of Je L’ai Câlissée Là. Inspired partly by languages and proverbs, the LP is a rich, engrossing listening experience, its vivid aural scenery enveloping the listener within its nostalgia tinged canvas. Out now on the always on point BineMusic, the record takes the musical blueprint set out by the previous LP, rips it up, and journeys into highly personal neoclassical inspired realms. Over the course of eleven string and melancholy drenched songs, Mario Hammer And The Lonely Robot give us irrefutable proof that machines really do have souls.

With Mario Hammer And The Lonely Robot

Opener, Y’aburnee sounds like an orchestra warming up their instruments before a show. Like the preview to some Christopher Nolan blockbuster, it induces a sense of anticipation in the listener, preparing us for what is to come. Next up, Tarvotur is a shivery piece of futuristic sounding electronica which recalls legends such as Ólafur Arnalds, or Boards Of Canada with its moments of pastoral calm. Other gems include the unbridled romanticism of Je L’ai Câlissée Là, the synth majesty of Tenalach, the Global Communication style minimalism of Gezelligheid, and the mind scrambling blast of discordance of closer Verkackt Die Dritte. With the album completed by a dance floor focused remix of Tenalach by Hannes Bieger, Je L’ai Câlissée Là is a record you want to immerse yourself in for days.

In the following interview Mario discusses the making of the new album, his love of vintage synths, working with BineMusic, the joy of soundtracks, his love for Lana Del Rey, and lots more.

So, pour yourself a nice glass of wine, give the album a play at the BineMusic website, and let us begin…

For anyone new to your music, can you tell us a little about who you are and what you do?
I am a big synth nerd and I really love the synthesizers from the 70s and 80s. Over many years, I’ve spent all my money on synths to work into the electronic music … it’s my passion, 100% from my heart!

In the last years I have found a way for myself to answer from my inside, to outside and create my “own handwriting”, in the electronica/ambient music genre –  in a new and modern way.

A lot of people compare my music – especially the first album – with Klaus Schulze or krautrock, but I think, in 2017 – I don’t copy music from the 70s or 80s, but I am using the same old machines, combined with my own modular system, in a new way. It’s logical that the feeling is in the same direction as in the 70s … because the sounds come from the same old magic synths, but more in a modern way…  (I think you know what I mean).

Your new LP, Je L’ai Câlissée Là came out on the 2nd of June. What was the idea behind the album?
I didn’t have any specific “ideas” behind the second album.  When I work in my studio, every moment is all from my inside, current feeling, or mood.

My relationship with my girlfriend ended in this time, and I was writing over a period of 14 months, the new album Je L’ai Câlissée Là, for her… to process my thoughts into my music. That’s why Josi S. was not so much involved in this album.

When you translate the French album title, you will find the “answer”! Or look in the album – CD booklet.

If someone only had time to listen to one song from the album, which should it be and why?
I really like Tenalach. The track was produced with my old Dutch-nl – Syrinx Synthesizer, and the sound is amazing. It’s really dark and such an interesting atmosphere. A lot of people like this track so much, and ask about it.

Hannes Bieger from Berlin, made a brilliant techno remix, in his own interpretation. I really like his remix. It’s a really good track, also for the clubs. Thanks so much Hannes!

Songs such as the title track, Gezelligheid and Aayhan are beautifully chilled. What do you like to listen to when you simply want to relax?
I am a really big fan of Barry White! His music was soooo great and you can listen  to it… around the clock 24/7… But … Psssst ….

In what ways does the album differ from your previous album L’esprit De L’escalier?
L’esprit De L’escalier was a joint production, together with J. Steinbüchel. He was my neighbour in 2015, in Cologne. We had a really good time together, a lot of good red wine and nice philosophical conversations. I am really thankful for this time!

One year later I moved back to Düsseldorf, into my old residence (I am from Hamburg – Timmendorfer Strand, at the Baltic Sea, but for the last 10 years, I’ve lived close to Düsseldorf).

The new album and the concept behind it, was written 95% in my studio, by myself, in seclusion – and later I was playing the tracks to Josi and he was putting a little this or that on 4 tracks. Josi’s input was very important for me in this time. We are a team.

This led to a different feeling from the first album, but I didn’t want to produce a carbon copy of L’esprit De L’escalier. This is why I am going in new ways, in my own handwriting.

During this hard time for me Nils Frahm’s soundtrack for the movie Victoria was in my head and I used his Una Corda Piano for some tracks. I am a really big fan of Nils and get some new influences from his side. Also, for my Robert Babicz and Groj remixes.

The album came out on BineMusic. How did you hook up with the lovely people there?
Jens, from BineMusic was the first person who really understood my second album, and he believed in it 100%. He is a really nice guy and it’s all from the feeling, from our gut. I have the feeling that the album is in good hands! Kompakt and A-Musik did the worldwide distribution. This is 100% a goal for me, to reach electronic ears all around the world.

There is a real cinematic air to many of the tracks. Have you worked on any movie soundtracks before?
No, but this is my second passion. I really like the works of David Lynch, and the Victoria movie by Sebastian Schipper, together with the amazing soundtrack by Nils Frahm and DJ Koze. This film is a huge influence for me. Each and every day…

It’s really hard to find a way, without booking agencies or management. I think, when I am dead, the world will “rediscover my robot”… Laugh —

If you could compose the soundtrack to any film, real or imaginary, which would it be and why?
I would create the best soundtrack for a Lana Del Rey music video. I feel her music so much, love the amazing voice and sad mood, and one day I hope to get the chance for a remix… 100% sure… After that, I can die! :-)

Are you going to tour the album at all? If so, do you have anything special planned?
No, I don’t have any plans for the future. Only one thing, to marry Lana Del Rey.

I don’t have a booking agency, or management. There is a lot of potential for an album tour, but the famous artists or label owners are too preoccupied with themselves. Life is good and when someone will find my robot, it’s OK…when not, it’s also OK.

Do you have any final words for our readers?
Enjoy your life, live in the moment and try to be happy everyday – and believe in the robot, the only, lonely robot!

Je L’ai Câlissée Là is available now in all good record and download stores. Do yourself a favour and waste no effort in tracking it down!

| JOHN BITTLES

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