(Why Don't You Take) The Other Side
This one is about us. Everyone. About the battles within. The two sides of a coin and how we flip them or hide one of them. About decisions. Day by day.
This one is about us. Everyone. About the battles within. The two sides of a coin and how we flip them or hide one of them. About decisions. Day by day. How we picture ourselves as ONE being, driven by ONE force, in ONE direction although the truth hidden deep inside ourselves speaks a different language, much more diverse, much more controversial and almost certainly not matching this idealized ONENESS we daily enact. We are not ONE OUT OF MANY we are indeed MANY OUT OF MANY. E Pluribus plures - Multiple personalities. Almost like those multiple nuclear warheads hidden in shelters deep beneath the earth that appear to be ONE rocket but once triggered… So why don’t WE take the other side? Why don’t YOU take the other side? Or to be more precise The Other Sides since there are so many of them.
It’s important to understand that when Roberto Di Gioia aka MARSMOBIL started the recording sessions for his third album (Why Don’t You Take) The Other Side the album´s theme was not as evident as it looks now. In fact composing & recording the album was a long process and although the album title (and its question) had been apparent in one form or another for a long time it had to be discovered first. It was the underlying question unintentionally hidden inside the songs composed & recorded over the last years. Only at the very end of this process did the overall theme became evident and suddenly what seemed to be, for most of the time rather a puzzle (even to the artist himself) suddenly became visible as a picture in its own right.
Who we are and who we aren’t
In fact the force that fueled Roberto’s creativity over the last two years was his increasing interest in the limitations of roles brought on us by others or by our-selves, roles that seem to define us but also reduce the complexity of our human nature to a simplified image. We need to be seen by others to ensure our human existence. We are tagged and we tend to tag others in-order to be identified and remembered. We reduce ourselves to images in order to become realities to the outside world and we limit others to images in order to reach further with our understanding of the outside world. The downside is that these images represent only fractions of a complex reality. It’s an almost tragic contradiction: our very human nature urges us to be seen by the outside in order to confirm we are really existent, but in order to be existent as realties in the minds of each other we need to limit our- selves to images up to a point that is anything but close to who we really are. Even worse we slowly fill in these images to the point that we believe in them ourselves. We become our own images and hardly remember The Other Side we have.
This Side – That Side. Who is Roberto Di Gioia?
Man?!? Italian?!? Musician?!? Piano Player?!? Jazz kid? Is Roberto Di Gioia the man we see on the back of the cover? Or is he the Woman on the front? Or both? Is she a he or he a she? Which side is true? Is there a right side at all? Or is the truth even more complex? Well - try to find the answer yourself! It’s all there, isn’t it? Is it all in your imagination? Or in the images you know? Or in the images you see? Inside Roberto? Inside the music?
And is he at least Italian? I mean the name alone should be proof enough, right? So we know? Or not? And if he is Italian how much of an Italian is he? Or are these, again all images created within the deepest of our imagination? Did the name spark our imagination? Or did we know?
Fact is, he was born in Milano. Fact is, he lives in Germany. Munich to be precise. Fact is, his team is Munich, not Milano. Red & White, not Black & Blue. That could raise a doubt, right? You know Italians and soccer! But on the other hand - he loves to cook! And Germans can’t cook! That much we know, don’t we? A dedicated cook to be more precise. He is reeeeally into food – all sorts, but then try his pasta! Fashion too! Best dressed chicken in town! Not a German thing either! His native tongue? Well – that depends on your native tongue. If you are a German or Italian give it a try! Believe me, he´ll be your fellow citizen. Reminiscing
But if we really can’t locate the man on one side of the Alps or the other, we know at least he is a musician, right? I mean he has recorded albums. Many albums in fact. With big names and on his own. Musicians love the man. One could say he is a musician’s musician. Live too. He toured the world. Countless concerts. All true. But then you check his moleskins and you see he is a writer to. You dig the videos for (Why Don’t You Take) The Other Side and tend to ask who did that great stuff? Well the man himself. But even in the field of music there is a truth beyond the truth we know. Musician´s musician sure, but also more and more musician´s producer, for himself, but also for others. And most of all he is a composer! What a composer!
So let’s have a closer look at the piano player tag. Isn’t that what he did most of his career, recording albums and live on stage? He was and is in demand for his outstanding skills in this field. A sure shot. Well - listen to the album and you know the truth. Almost every single instrument recorded for The Other Side was recorded by Roberto himself. From piano (of course) to guitar, to bass, to drums to even a sitar – all played by the man himself!
And now the Jazz tag! Almost a curse!? The root of it all. If you ask Roberto himself he would never limit himself to be a Jazz musician. That’s not where things started. That’s not the beginning. It started with GEORGE HARRISON. Back in the 70´s. On the Radio. My Sweet Lord. If you wanna dig that’s the place to dig. Young Roberto felt in love with that song at the tender age of six and learned to play along on his Antonelli children’s organ. A deeply rooted love for THE BEATLES and all kinds of pop music started and remains today. But Roberto did not just fall in love with that song; he was also gifted with talent. Almost too gifted in retrospect. An autodidact for most of his life Roberto taught himself to play the organ, continually progressing over the next years. Whilst still under-aged he was invited by the local Jazz heroes to join them live. He was too good to be true. At just nineteen he joined ART FARMER on tour. Invitations to the states followed the same year. It was too good to be true. Almost too easy. With less than twenty Roberto had joined the ranks of well established European and American Jazz figures. He became a member of KLAUS DOLDINGERS PASSPORT a band that almost every outstanding German Jazz musician since the 60´s had joined at one point or another during their career, like Americans did with DUKE ELLINGTONS BIG BAND back in the 40´s and 50´s. Jazz Musicians had found him, raised him and almost kept him “hostage” for the next twenty years. A friendly takeover one could say and a temptation too sweet to resist for a young man not even in his twenties. A fruitful relationship since Roberto loved Jazz. But Jazz was only one flavor to savor and Roberto was not all Jazz. He never was. Still at one point the image was already so well established in the minds of others and of Roberto himself that even he wouldn’t have doubted it. Emancipation started as a slow process and increased when he founded his own project MARSMOBIL in the late 90´s. He also worked with other non-jazz musicians more and more. THE NOTWIST, CONSOLE, PETER KRUDER, CHRISTIAN PROMMER, HENRIK SCHWARZ, HELL, MAX HERRE to name a few. The tag still stuck and even if Roberto – deep in his heart - never felt comfortable with it he never really fought the image consciously. He just developed. The times were changing and so was MARSMOBIL.
So it’s not surprising that the theme of the album developed progressively over the last two years and so too did the musical world of MARSMOBIL. In fact this theme is more than just the theme of the album, it’s a life theme: A lifelong struggle to free ourselves from external and internal restriction or at least to question them, not just as a musician but also in our private life. We know these feelings all too well, but do we dare to ask this question? (Why Don’t You Take) The Other Side?
Well, come in and listen to THE OTHER SIDE!
ROBERTO DI GIOIA the musical mastermind behind MARSMOBIL unfolds with (Why Don’t You Take) The Other Side the amazing new musical world that MARSMOBIL has progressed into since his last album Minx. With more catchy songs than ever and a strong link to the 60’s roots of pop, rock and psychedelica MARSMOBIL have re-focused their activities and created a pop album of classic dimensions based on Roberto’s outstanding skills as songwriter, arranger and multi-instrumentalist. Almost every single instrument on the album, ranging from the Antonelli children’s organ (he started to play as a five year old kiddo!) to Mellotron, drums, bass, piano, organs, acc. and elec. guitars, sitar, percussion, chimes, marimba, cello and even a blues harp was played by ROBERTO DI GIOIA himself, who, ever since his childhood, has earned himself a reputation as musical “Wunderkind”.
Gifted with talent he was employed to play right after he left school at the age of nineteen with big names like ART FARMER, WOODY SHAW, JOHNNY GRIFFIN, JAMES MOODY, MEL LEWIS and BUSTER WILLIAMS. Invitations to play in the States followed soon after and with less than twenty years he was already a known figure in the Jazz scene. From there his journey led him over the years around the world on tour with various musicians, as well as through musical worlds ranging from Jazz to Indie Rock - he worked with THE NOTWIST on their outstanding Neon Golden album - to electronic - works with CONSOLE, PETER KRUDER (of KRUDER & DORFMEISTER fame) and just recently for the new DJ HELL album - to pop - with German pop music superstars like UDO LINDENBERG and just lately MAX HERRE. He was even invited to join CHARLIE WATTS from the ROLLING STONES on the recording sessions of the Music Of The Rolling Stones tribute album!
In the same vain as his journeys through musical worlds whilst working with others, Roberto has developed his own project MARSMOBIL. Step by step MARSMOBIL has evolved from the more acid jazz inspired first album Strange World on ACT, through the critically acclaimed Minx on Compost with its first steps into the world of pop, to the current full-fledged pop album soon to be released. So let’s take a listen…
From Patience to Patience…track by track
Opening the album is what could be easily named the albums theme track: Patience. This song acts as an intro to the album as well as the outro. The first verse of this song and the first verse to be heard on the album at all asks the question that has driven the whole Project: (Why Don’t You Take) The Other Side? Quite unusual for the album this track is less songwriting orientated and – although in fact not sampled but played – more loop inspired than the rest of the album. With its repetitive structure you can easily place it in the context of Roberto’s recent work with names like DJ HELL, PETER KRUDER and CHRISTIAN PROMMER. Obviously one more SIDE of the many SIDES of MARSMOBIL. Hence it’s not surprising that exactly this track has caught the ear of HELL himself (Marsmobil’s new single is more than slamming, got it from Pepe in Miami, congrats!) and of MICHAEL MAYER (KOMPAKT) and AKSEL SCHAUFLER aka SUPERPITCHER who immediately decided to do their own remix under their moniker SUPERMAYER which is going to be released on KOMPAKT in early 2010. A story almost too good to be true since Patience indeed pays homage to another KOMPAKT co-owner and legend: WOLFGANG VOIGT. The story goes like this: While visiting Peter Kruder’s studio in Vienna during one of the recording sessions, Roberto – a dedicated cook – prepared a meal for Peter and Christian Prommer – two dedicated gourmets – who in turn were preparing themselves for a DJ gig due the same night. Both DJ’s were playing tracks to each other while Roberto was cooking. Than suddenly one of the tracks caught Roberto’s ear: Geduld (the German word for Patience) was released by WOLFGANG VOIGT under one of his many aliases FREILAND a while ago on one of the KOMPAKT compilations. Roberto immediately fell in love with the track and right on the spot used a paper napkin to develop a new song from its basic structure not knowing who inspired him. Some weeks after - while developing a longer version together with Peter & Christian – they even got inspiration again from another KOMPAKT artist: SUPERMAYER. Their remix for Rufus Wainwright’s Tiergarten served as a blue print for the balance of the vocal and instrumental parts in the long version of Patience (to be released soon). Hence Roberto was more than delighted to hear about KOMPAKT’s interest to close the circle of references and cross-references with their own remix.
Right after Patience follows with Crazy Colored Light what is probably the albums strongest radio single and another variation of the albums theme. Don’t look away you have to take the other side and stay. With it’s almost AMY WINEHOUSE like piano lead, this psychedelic pop song celebrates our (Crazy Colored) Life in all its diversity. Featured is a pseudo Italo American spoken word part by the THE ILLUSIONISTS, inspired by the film Prestige. I am the illusionist, I am the transported man. A strong metaphor, as isn’t that what we are for others whilst we play out the multiple sides of our personality: the illusionists of our self – appearing and disappearing constantly - pure magic!
Following up is the already released first radio single Ordinary Boy with its great hook-line and positive vibe. This song takes its inspiration from the least thing you might expect while listening to it: From our negative sides. The not-so-special-sides we all have. The things we dislike in ourselves. This is THE OTHER SIDE of everyone. We are all more or less just Ordinary Boys and Girls so why not accept the unavoidable and turn it into something positive: Yes we are!
Moon Of Dust, the albums fourth track is yet another – and maybe surprising - side of MARSMOBIL with its unusual drum pattern and almost EELS like Indie approach. This song is based on a poem written by Roberto a long time ago about a very surreal dream. With very calm and dreamy vocals in its center surrounded by the constantly moving and unusual lively drums it creates a strange contrast: A calm man in the center of a world constantly evolving… This song is planned to be a single with NOTWIST and CONSOLE versions later this year.
From here the mood changes to a song that – despite its piano driven almost hymn like nature (something between COLDPLAY and JOHN LENNON) – might be the albums secret hit (and HENRIK SCHWARZ mixes are in works) and proved already to be one of the highlights of the live shows. My Day has a chorus hard to resist because it puts in words everybody’s dearest wish: Whatever problems we have to overcome - Its Gonne Be My Day!
Jane, the next song, is devoted to the beauty of French actor, singer and 60´s icon JANE BIRKIN and is celebrating everlasting love. It’s of course a love bound to an image since Roberto never met Jane. With its phased drums and an AIR like chorus this song sounds like a journey through cotton wool clouds up in the sky. Maybe the most ethereal song of the album.
If Jane sounds ethereal and in a way shows a side of Marsmobil that we might have heard before than the next song Never Forget shows perfectly how much Marsmobil´s cosmos has grown: a soulful pop rocker and certainly one of the next singles to come. This one has a bit of LENNY KRAVITZ in it. A very ironic comment about all those wanna be famous that have fallen in love with their own image. Never Forget Your Are Not Seen By Anyone Who Is Near You!
Even more rock appeal has the next song Lolly. Psych Rock with a strong guitar riff and a massive bass line to be more precise. Certainly the most distorted song of the album. With this one Roberto draws back a line to sixties noise rock like many indie bands ranging from THE JESUS AND THE MARY CHAIN to GLASVEGAS have done before. This song is all about the common fear to deal with the present rather than get stuck in the past or lost in the future.
Lolly is followed by Cry For Day - a song that - according to Roberto - is one of his favorite songs of the album and serves almost as a prayer with its constantly evolving repetitive verse that calls for A Day of Love.
Another future single is Monday Tuesday, a rather funny song about shifted reality. We all know this situation where reality suddenly slips and we confuse where we are, who we are, or, as in this case, what time it is. A man wakes up one day and believes it’s Monday while in fact it’s already Tuesday. He has missed a day and all its tasks and appointments and tries to figure out what to do. Does it really make a difference? Does one day make the difference? Do we make a difference or is the world anyway moving on regardless of what we do? He decides to stay in bed and watches a TV documentation about the moon. This one reminds one of pop songs written by MADNESS or XTC, through its music constantly becoming more whimsical, and its lyrics moving into absurdity.
Insane 5 serves as an almost instrumental part two to Monday Tuesday with an unusual 7/4 beat and its loop like ironic lyrics. A repetitive complaint of on unloved person: Why don’t you fall in love, why can’t you read my mind, how come you just so blind, is my love not enough? For the same reason as with Patience this tune sticks out due to its repetitive nature that is opposed to the other songs of the album with their classical hook and verse structure. It features German master percussionist ERNST STROER, who – along with singer KIM SANDERS – gives this song its distinctive flavor.
Berchida the title of the next song is named after the small Italian mountain village of the same name on the Island of Sardinia. If you ask Roberto what’s this song about? He smiles and says he can hardly describe it himself. A happy moment (as you can easily hear in the very dreamy floating mode of the song) that made him feel like he reached The Other Side. This track owes a lot to the heavenly vocals of outstanding singer MARTINE-NICOLE ROJINA who also added her unique voice to many other songs of the album as backings. She used to sing the lead vocals for MARSMOBIL (on the last album Minx) before Roberto decided to sing more and more of his songs himself during the production of the new album. A process that came along with its emancipation from the jazz piano player tag he wanted to escape so badly and with his wish to give the more and more personal matters of his songs also his own voice. At the same time when Roberto decided to sing more and more of his songs himself, Martine was working on her solo-project "TURBO LeRONE", a multimedia disco punk performance rEVOLution soon to be experienced.
Spirit of the Dark has a very simple message wrapped in rather surreal BOWIE like lyrics: It’s the end of the game! A very dark tune not just due to its name but also to its music & theme: No more playing, no more kidding, no more fooling - at one point we all need to get serious!
Revolution Girl – certainly another song to be a single - is again an ironic little master piece. If you just listen to the very uplifting music with its guitar and percussion opening that could be borrowed from an early 70´s protest song you might believe this is a romantic love song that celebrates a ZABRISKIE POINT like revolutionary hippy girl. The truth is, this is the music that girl might have written to celebrate herself but the lyrics speak a different language than the music and serve as an ironic comment from the outside. This girl has fallen in love with her own image but if you see past the image this girl does not really know what she wants, neither is she really getting that many things right. Roberto doesn’t really want to meet her since he fears she spoils his day with her full-of-herself attitude.
The next song Helix Pomatia (latin for grapevine snail) is the only true instrumental of the album. It’s played by Roberto on the Antonelli children’s organ already mentioned earlier and a cello frame set for Melotrone (Roberto has bought an original one some years earlier – the history of that instrument is another story that would be worth to be told). With its cute simple melody it could be easily featured on a Morr Music Album.
Closing the album is the second part of Patience, the track that sets the albums theme, serves as intro, outro and frame to (Why Don’t You Take) The Other Side. With a strong build up to its heavily distorted climax this second part is as much The Other Side of Patience as a song, as it is the end of the album.
Also included on the album is another (hidden) track: Gloria (this is not a cover version of the THEM / VAN MORRISON classic).This ballad features Roberto on the piano accompanying himself to his own composition. A song that could be read in many ways. At first sight it appears to be about the everlasting love to a girl named Gloria and the hope that this love will be fulfilled one day: How can it be that I love you without knowing you? Oh Gloria it seems that we know each other for years, Oh Gloria there will come a time! Considering the context at the very end of this album it could also be read as a love song to the artist’s alter egos aka The Other Sides - a metaphor that sums things up. A song about the deep belief that at one (hypothetical) point in the future all the different sides within each of us, all the alter egos we are will melt to one being, loved and seen by ourselves and others as more than the sum of our images. We might not be able to reach this point at all but it could give our lives direction. REACH OUT FOR THE OTHER SIDE!