Hinterlandt – Cartography
The latest album from Hinterlandt, “Cartography”, sees Sydney-based, German-born solo performer Jochen Gutsch retaining his trademarks but finding something more listenable than his record from last year, and more diverse than 2009′s “All Things Considered”, when Hinterlandt was a trio.
At times immensely relaxing, and others very playful, it’s serious music that doesn’t take itself too seriously. It’s a quirky, ever-shifting marriage of progressive instrumental rock and electronica that follows a wandering and exploring style while retaining structure. Drawing on a range of instruments, high and low tech synth sounds, loops and recorded samples from the real world, and complex time shifts, there’s plenty to keep the imagination running, yet there’s enough familiarity in there to act as a reference point.
The foundation of each song involves introducing different instruments and sounds in waves in a way that ensures that as the scenery changes the flow remains uninterrupted or broken. Which is not to say there aren’t moments designed to create tension, or stark, sudden shifts and moments of silence, but they are all parts of that flow. This is largely responsible for creating a sound that is experimental but within conventional tonality and structures, unlike some avant-garde which sets out to smash those normalities and is, to most people, simply unpleasant to listen to.
The electronics and loops are not simply a series of endless repetition; Gutsch knows the importance of nuance and imperfection in giving music character that gives it life beyond the end of the week. Trumpet is used in a couple of different ways – either to create harmonies and melodies or to set up short three- or four-note motifs which other sounds are built around. The guitar passages are largely loud Mogwai-like reverb and feedback, and pure heaven.
The songs themselves vary in length from four minutes to a bit under 19, and it’s that longer one- “Stadt Land Fluss”- that tells the biggest story. Taken from an old German word game, it translates as City Land River and it’s a perfect name for the song as you venture through different environments. There’s a passage around ten minutes in that reminded me immediately of Jean Michael Jarre’s “Équinoxe Part 8”, the one where it starts to rain and you hear music in the distance. As you draw closer in the cold dark rain you see a Parisian café and you make your way inside. The music you hear is like a song within a song, and that’s the same feeling I had in “Stadt Land Fluss”, except in this case I could hear someone playing dub in a nearby property as I was walking through bushland. What makes Hinterlandt’s song so much better than Jarre’s is that although Gutsch uses field recordings, he doesn’t rely on them, or more accurately he doesn’t ask them, to recreate a specific place or time, instead leaving plenty of room for the listener to dream their own dream.
So that’s what I should do too I think. I’ll let you listen and see where this takes you. What I will say is that this is is a record stripped of excess, that embraces variety, displays impeccable timing and great self-awareness, and is simply magnificent.
You can hear the first track “You Are Welcome” on Hinterlandt’s website.
“Cartography” will be released on 5 October through Laughing Outlaw Records and can be pre-ordered.
Posted by Gilbert Potts.
Tags: album review, Cartography, Electronica, Experimental, Gilbert Potts, Hinterlandt, Sydney, Trumpet