12 November 2013


It was a big evening of electronica-cum-experimental. Marcus Popp was being welcomed by two acts: Canberrans Spartak and Sydney resident Hinterlandt.

I’d seen Spartak several times. They are well known to CJ and they’ve taken on various combinations over time. They now appear as a quartet, but more surprisingly, with vocals. Evan sang, and so did Shoeb for a few tunes. I liked this. It seemed to give the music a place and purpose. They sang of “the Thrivers” and the like, so there’s a message, too. The lyrics are sung with the oddest of melodies comprising unexpected intervals moving all over the place, and the harmony matches that. You can hardly speak of scales here, and although you could interpret as harmony, I doubt it’s written that way. The rhythm takes the standard 4 bars of 4/4 with the chunky, truncated grooves of this style. It all works. I like this pop-like take. The guitars and bass, when they are played, tend to the down-beat-on-crotchet-on-one-note/chord style, so that’s no challenge, but they got in some delightful solos, Evan a fabulous one on acoustic drums and another shorter, but nervous and tonally varied one on drum machine, and I admired Matt’s rabidly syncopated bass-machine line on an early tune. I was interested and impressed but also well entertained. Very well done. Spartak were Shoeb Ahmad (guitar, electronics), Evan Dorrian (drums, electronics), Matt Lustri (guitar, bass, electronics) and Rory Stenning (electronics, drums).

Then Hinterlandt, the one-man band project of Sydney - based Jochen Gutsch. I don’t say one-man band lightly here. Jochen played one long tune. He introduced it with trumpet, adding effects and processing, rambling through glockenspiel and guitar and finally back to trumpet to end. There was considerable preparation here: this was clearly not all improvised. The instruments matched against supporting samples and loops at various times. I was impressed by just how much work must have gone into this. The musicianship was nothing virtuosic (not that that’s not an issue here) but the introductory jazz melody on trumpet was quite fascinating and restless with some missing beats and slipping melody. The styles touched on contemporary jazz, rock, metal. The metal was heavy with body-shuddering sub-bass and one hand guitar strums. Then a return to trumpet and an unexpected end. This was interesting and obviously subject to considerable work of composition. I had a few concerns. I did find the sub-bass was oppressive, but sub-bass is common in this music, and I felt the composition was too all-encompassing and thus somewhat unfocussed. Like a pizza with the lot. But what do I know of these styles? Hinterlandt is Jochen Gutsch (trumpet, guitar, glockenspiel, percussion, effects, processing).

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