Troels Hammer might just be my favourite artist on Danish imprint, Music For Dreams. For me he fits that criteria of “Balearic by accident”. If he`d been spotted and signed by any other label, then he`d probably have the tag of “modern classical”. In places he even touches on the more spiritual end of contemporary jazz. On Bogota, for example, the keys come in crescendos, waves, that recall Phil France`s The Swimmer, and Wim Mertens` Struggle For Pleasure. Theme From Ngong Hills, a weeping piano and violin-led last waltz, with an air of lovers` ghosts and goodbyes, where the record is at its most moving and melancholy, could easily sit easily alongside some of Gondwana`s more recent output. The press-one sheet talks about “Intermediation”, and I guess what it means is this bridging of musical worlds / genres.
Sure, to my ears, there are tropes here – symphonic, synthetic strings and ethereal sighs, pretty kalimba patterns and sampled surf – but don’t forget I spend hours and hours every week listening to, and writing about, this kind of music every week, and in my opinion, in Troels` case, they are very classily, tastefully, done. The simple, beatless arrangements also benefit from being played with real feeling. The romantic motifs inspiring nostalgia, like half-remembered childhood songs. A looking back, not blue, but grateful – it`s better to have loved and lost… – like an alternative score to some classic `80s art-house flick, Toto Le Heros, or 37o2 Le Matin.
Gabriel Yared`s magical music composed for the latter is an especially strong reference point. Cold Hawaii’s heartbroken harmonica conjures images of Zorg, late at night, talking to Betty reincarnated as a cat. Father Sky’s accordion melody, and the saxophone solos throughout, summon similar pictures of the movie`s protagonist, silhouetted, alone on a beach at sunset. Totally dramatic, and cinematic, these are wordless ballads for heavy lids, and weary souls, to be taken as the sun as the sun goes down. Reassuring lullabies that seem to say, “Yeah, today’s today…”, whisper, promise, “…but tomorrow will be brighter.”
Troels Hammer has produced 5 albums, and is on the verge of releasing a sixth – House Of Memories – but An Introduction, is currently only his second vinyl outing. Its title is self-explanatory, and the record serves as a sampler, cherry-picking from his previous, and forthcoming work. When I DJed with Hamon Radio at the recent Photo Miyota event, without thinking about it, the LP formed the core of my set. You can pick up a copy here.