: hinterlandt

Alias Frequencies, 2004, AF004

Now based in Köln, Hinterlandt is known to most as Jochen Gutsch. This album offers a snapshot of his musical outings while living in Sydney and, perhaps due to the contrast between European winter and our long, loving summers, this record is overtly pop in its overtones. There’s a sense of ecstatic jubilance, as each of the 4 original tracks (even at their most abstract) maintain a playful demeanor.

Recorded using a range of hand held and live instrumentation, the merging of pop sensibilities, lilting electronic passages and the occasional burst of experimental sound texture mingle well and suggest Hinterlandt’s diversity comes from a long term interest in exploring the possibilities of combination, juxtaposition and collage.

There are some moments of real genius—Gutsch’s cover of Making Plans For Nigel is really something. He breaks down the groove, tugging at the vocal line to create a grittier tune and hurls layer upon layer of delay into the drums to create a slow burning fuse, so that the track unfolds with a slowly building crest. Half way through there’s an explosion of gutsy distortion; you can hear that this guy has really planned his assault on a classic song.

While possibly ironic (as in the title track, New Belief System), the sonic references back to 80s pop moods tend to reduce the effectiveness of the music's transformational qualities. You can’t help but find yourself distracted by the choice of terrible crash cymbals and cheesy synth settings. However, on the whole Hinterlandt has created an enjoyable and eclectic record, furnished with a strong willingness to give anything a try. It’s pop music—but it’s pop music with a bent that’s genuinely endearing.

Lawrence English

1 December 2005