Marsimoto - Verde (Review)

Martin_Canine MARSIMOTO

On a superficial level, Marsimoto is German indie rapper Marteria with pitched vocals. Digging deeper, he is German indie rapper Marteria freed from all boundaries of convention, mainstream expectations and traditional genre limitations. And Verde continues where Ring der Nebelungen left off 3 years ago.

Behind both names, there is Marten Laciny, a former football player and model nobody who, as a young adult, had the possibility to become big in his respective groups, but found fame in the German hip hop scene, with off-beat music that doesn’t quite fit into the dark and aggressive tone of German rap. Ever since his debut, he alternates between his two personas from album to album, having created two separate discography that couldn’t be more different.

Marteria is poppy, relaxed, sometimes poetic, sentimental and easy going. He’s the off-beat kid that’s just himself, who thinks a lot about the world around him, as well as the one inside himself, and spreads the thoughts through a few well written and intelligent lines. His music works on the same level as indie music - just that it’s slow paced, poppy hip hop with cool, laid back beats and catchy choruses.

That can’t be said about his other self. Marsimoto is anarchic, trippy, challenging and unpredictable. Behind the chipmunk pitch, his voice goes crazy, crossing or not crossing a thin line between laughing hysterically and floating into drowsy nirvana. You don’t always know what he thinks, it sounds far from any realistic emotion, it’s unsettlingly fevery and artificial. And that in the best of ways. When you put in a Marsimoto record, you don’t want to get clearly structured strains of thoughts and straightforward production. When you listen to Marsi, you’re in for a hypnotic ride through the deepest depth of a complex mind that’s been drugged and can only be heard through several layers of filters. In 2017, Marteria released Roswell, a decent work of fans of alternative hip hop with the lyrical feel of a clever underground lo-fi soft rock band. In 2018, Marsimoto released Verde - a living, breathing and impulsive musical experience.

The term "Verde" is Spanish for “green”, but the title’s meaning gets explained differently throughout the record. The “-erde” often stands for Planet Earth, also called “Erde” in German. But the “V” alternates: on one song, the lyrics explain it to stand for the record being Marsimoto’s fifth album (not Marten Laciny’s), another track suggests it to be short for “Völker”, meaning “the people” or "cultures". But also green in and of itself has always played a huge role in Marsi’s world. The color scheme dominates all of his previous cover artworks, one album is called Grüner Samt (“Green velvet”), he released an EP titled Green Juice, when performing as Marsimoto he always wears a green mask and his label is called Green Berlin. But, probably most importantly, it’s the color of weed.

Marteria’s image has always been no image at all. Just being yourself, sharing your quirky thoughts through music. He may or may not be a smoker, that’s not a very important point. However, the sounds of Marsimoto resemble his ideas of the world through a vision blurred by a coat of marijuana. Not only does the musical journey through all levels of consciousness clearly resemble a drug trip, the verbal references aren’t exactly few as well. And it’s hard capturing such abstract sensations on CD without letting substances alter your brain. That’s not to say that good music needs drugs - just that this music is the result of it. But initially, what would happen to Marsimoto wasn’t very clear. In 2015, Laciny was hospitalized for severe kidney problems - an incident which made him cut out any substance abuse. But oh my, Verde proves that it doesn’t need the leaves to create the same psychedelic imagery both musically and lyrically.

One of the darker songs of his career, Friede sei mit dir lets protests of the past come back as zombies (translated from the German):
“Beautiful old world, you ugly monster
Hemmingway’s spirit circuits up there and eats lobster
Weed corpses drawing peace signs for Vietnam
The iron curtain clamped with cocaine leaves
Reunite, all cultures of this earth
Cultures (“Völker”) plus earth (“Erde”) equals Verde”

Others are entirely cryptic, like the title track:
“Tabaluga [a fictional young dragon popular in Germany] smokes weed now, holiday in the Harz mountains
I walk on water, am cool and can do a split
Can’t sleep at night, fortunately “The Office” keeps me awake
Take the fifth wheel of the monster truck
The fifth dimension is my witness
All the children at school get louses
You eat chicken thigh, I say “Eat the drumstick!””

The final line is noteworthy for one song on the album, Chicken Terror being apparently written from the perspective of a chicken revolting against slaughter, from what you can tell.

Marsimoto doesn’t spit bars, he doesn’t deliver punchlines, he isn’t a master of rhyming and he isn’t about flow either, plus the beats hardly resemble something you could use to present your skill to. They are scores that set the mood for the bizarre adventures the lyrics unfold. Rather than how hip hop works, Verde operates on the levels that Björk’s Utopia did last year. I’d go even further. Sometimes, it’s a modern album-length Tomorrow Never Knows. Maybe the truth is, it is only loosely based around the schemes of hip hop, but evolving a much more complex voyage from then on. A voyage on which you’ll witness overwhelming impressions that can’t quite be described in words. They must be experienced, and felt.