by Chris Familton
Jochen Gutsch is a prolific Sydney composer and one-man band with thirteen releases to his name since 2003. I call him a composer because his music is rooted in ambitious ideas with a multitude of elements fighting for space amid his instrumental soundscapes. There is also an overwhelming magpie eclecticism to Hinterlandt that can be both glorious and maddening as he chases all manner of organic and electronic sounds, butting them up against each other with the result being abrasive or soothing depending on what he is trying to achieve on each track.
Twitchy electronica coexists with heavy metallic guitar riffage, dubbed out brass and clever time changes with the guitar being the least satisfying element, taking the songs by the scruff of the neck and shaking them brutally. It feels like overkill, which is probably the intention. The opening track You Are Welcome uses delicate delayed guitar notes that are much more in sync with the rest of the piece – even though that heavy, crunching guitar still raises its head. As a lonesome trumpet blows a beautiful melody recalling some of the early work by New Zealand’s Sola Rosa. Comparisons with other bands seems somewhat redundant though as Gutsch genre hops constantly, particularly on the 18 minute Stadt Land Fluss with its dark electronic creep and post rock scale and mood shifts. He covers a broad range dynamically and stylistically and his music sits more comfortably when given time to spread itself out.
The overriding impressions of Cartography are its range, sense of playful adventure and lack of concern for fitting in with any sound or scene. This is music born of an imaginative mind and though it can be at times disorientating it is still nonetheless sonically fascinating.
Cartography is out now via Laughing Outlaw Records
This review was first published in Drum Media