Review: Hinderlandt – Sollbruchstelle


“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.




Review: Statues; Life Pilot; Emecia; I, Icarus – Enigma Bar

Originally published on here.

With the tough task of opening for some heavyweights in the scene, I, Icarus set the mood for the evening. With pinch harmonies and hardcore dancing, bassist Christian Pedersen was no stranger to the concept of crabcore. Although I, Icarus’s time-tested blend of hardcore and metal held them in good stead, a clean-sung number allowed lead guitarist Seamus McIlduff to soar. Once they iron out some technical difficulties, I, Icarus will surely bear the torch for the metalcore genre.

Emecia stripped things back with sparse instrumentation supported by an ambient backing. Although the technology involved might have led to a sense of dissociation, Emecia found the balance, creating a sense of intimacy that their music begs for. Each instrument was pushed to the limit, from punk riffs to heavy breakdowns, all led by singer Scott Middlin’s engaging vocal performance. They’re a band we’re honestly surprised we haven’t heard more from.

More explosive than we’d ever seen, Life Pilot weren’t concerned about tech, or aesthetics, or taking things seriously. Each member got an introduction, almost like a theatre performance, yet this comedy couldn’t have led into a harsher reality; crushing lows and piercing highs, breakdowns that ground to a halt like the metal on metal screech of train tracks. Moving from Marilyn Manson’s The Beautiful People into a downtempo belter, don’t ever expect to see Life Pilot pulling out heartfelt harmonies. “Have fun and be yourselves, as cliche as that might be,” said singer Angus Long, authenticity bleeding out.

Enthusiasm burst from Statues singer Alex Shom as he repeated two words: “Stand down!” What an irony, as it felt like a call for engagement and urgency. The unrelenting assault only paused when the interplaying lines led from musician to musician. With the guitarists spending more time off the stage than on it, the barrage became a 360-degree affair. Due to an issue with their gear, Statues weren’t able to use the backing tracks from their new album No Grave, No Burial, and decided not to play a lot of tracks from the LP. Forced to create a show on the fly, they pulled the heaviest tracks from their catalogue, which resulted in a more bare-bones show. It was much heavier, more raw. Bringing Life Pilot on stage during their final bout, the stage was lost in utter chaos right until the last note. We couldn’t help but think that against the odds, against the turnout, against the technical difficulties – this was one of the best hardcore performances we had ever and might ever see.

Review: Palm – Rock Island

A bold and full record, Palm’s ​Rock Island is the answer to the questions asked in their renowned debut Trading Basics, released three years prior. Continuing in the angular and offset fashion of their debut, Palm opt to pull out all the stops, ignoring any chance to reproduce the album ​live. Using MIDI samples, washed-out vocals, wonky tensions and stuttering electronics, their goal is to create a unique musical language.

The opening track ​Pearly encompasses the record comfortably, as if nothing is awry in Palm’s world. And that’s exactly what Palm attempt to do – build a world around their music. Yet amongst the circus-like nature of the record, hidden are melodic gems that leave you smiling, wanting more. The single of the album ​Composite allows for a more settled, shuffle groove, where ​Dog Milk rides off it’s more complex, repeating layers.

It’s at this point that the world is built and you’re left free to roam in it. And it’s at this point where what started as a textural delight in side show alley becomes more like a nightmare in a funhouse. While tracks like ​Theme From Rock Island and ​20664 are a welcome intermission to the chaos of the album, tracks like ​Swimmer drag you between the strummed, octave-effected guitar motifs.

Yet it’d be wrong to ignore the hyperbolic intentions of the album. It’s an extreme take, a maximalist approach to time and melody. The critics wanted more and that’s exactly what they got. The lyric’s unapologetic and sedated irony serves to contrast the records bright instrumentation. Unsurprisingly, it’s when the toys are picked up and the desk cleared, it’s the moments on the record that are simple and clear that cut through the noise. Though regarded as an organic species of sound, Palm’s ​Rock Island is an example that in a consumer society, ​more is not always ​better.

In reflection you realise what you signed up to, they said it themselves:

In a void / You put a lock on the door / But you endure / A vow / I’ll stop at nothing

Out now via Carpark Records.