“The part of a machine that is designed to break under pressure”
Etymology: Sollen (“should”) + Bruch (“break”) + Stelle (“point”)
Returning in 2018 with Sollbruchstelle, string quartet Hinderlandt offers a lean, 19-minute EP that is and of itself a whole work, a short commentary that traverses dense harmony and rhythm. Incorporating an acoustic guitar into the quartet, German-born composer Jochen Gutsch tackles the idea of breaking-points in the modern world. Where more than ever people clutch to the things they know, Gutsch questions whether some things are meant to break down, shift and change.
Opening uncertainly, the guitar’s semitone intervals clash with the driving force of the viola. One instantly notices the use of stereo imaging that compliments the compositions sonic balance, spotlighting the tension Gutsch hopes to comment on. While the pop style of guitar playing often feels out of place, it’s in the recurring chorus sections that it feels so at home. Like a sollbruchstelle, each instrument cannot stand on its own, yet through crescendos and rhythmic breakdowns, each part fulfils and satisfies the other.
Sonically evoking the blueprints pictured on the cover, each Plan builds, questions and learns from the last. In conversation, the violins are taut, pulling at each other as the greater whole is brought together in melodic, flowing sections. Though resolution is beckoned for, it’s the unsettled and puzzling sections that are needed to appreciate the overarching joy. Where Plan A and Plan B end in turmoil, a key-change midway through Plan C foretells a positive end.
Employing motif and repetition, Sollbruchstelle recalls the joy of planning, of seeing your work come to fruition, yet fraught with tension between classical styles of the past and pop sensibilities of the modern era, the tale Sollbruchstelle leaves you to contemplate isn’t as satisfying as it first seemed. A brisk walk, a patchwork of textually diverse ideas, the EP feels like it needed more time to boil down. Yet maybe this story is meant to feel unfinished, is that not a greater reflection of life?
While there’s no doubt that more pressure was applied to this compressed exploration, it’s conclusions fail to match it’s lofty ambition. Whether we need to let go of musical tradition in light of music’s unpredictable future cannot be known, but Hinderlandt’s stripped back EP is nevertheless a reminder of how even the short stories in our lives shed light on the bigger picture.
Out now via Art as Catharsis.