The following is a review, or rather appreciation of the 2 musical acts that played at Venue 505 on Saturday the 8th of October, Hinterlandt and Wartime Sweethearts.
“Audience members often compare live performances to a soundtrack without a film, and reviewers refer to the narrative aspect of his music.” (Hinterlandt)
There is definitely a narrative aspect to the music as their ability to contrast sections so smoothly and naturally gives life to the fiction you are making up in your head. The story I make up in my head is bits and pieces of the Tim Burton film Corpse Bride.
The composer Jochen Gutsch certainly knows how to create ambience. The use of dynamics were incredibly well in sync and controlled, it almost sounded like some of the ostinatos were being repeated from a looping system. The building of layers created a thick mystical atmosphere that devoured everyone around them. The musical ideas were spooky, cryptic and created a sort of hope that haunts you. I heard what I think sounded like a variety of modes, aeolian and phrygian, that captured the tone of Gutsch’s ideas. The musicians knew how to express the mood of their ideas through their instruments and as the violinist soared to its high register I questioned wether it was Victor Van Dort – the distressed fiancé from Corpse Bride – screaming, or was it the violin?
The musical chemistry between the performers was insane, letting the silence in between rests sound like music without even having to tap a foot. From what I’ve seen Gustch can play over 4 instruments and at the end of one piece he sat at the piano and modulated what felt like three times over a span of 5 seconds.
Wartime Sweethearts took the stage next and the minute I saw a female double bassist I knew they had won me already, I appreciate a good male bassist but its nice to see someone like myself.
“I hold my breathe, you hold your tongue.”
That was one of many poetic lyrics delivered by Louise Nutting, along with her incredible harmonies and rippling arpeggios. She definitely knew how to loop harmonies, and even with such an extensive range she knew how to control it to her advantage. Joined by a ten-piece orchestra, she definitely undertook ways to really make a statement of her lyrics through sound, something that is not happening enough in pop music today. Speaking of whats missing from pop music, there was no fluff over lyrics and I could hear every consonant and vowel. The band were comfortable and grooving all night, especially the male violinist. The flautist was as clear as Doris Day and the bassist sinks you to the lowest pit of the ocean and makes you want to hold your breathe. If there’s any song where I heard the brass the most it was in the piece ‘Mood Swings’ and it damn well made my mood swing. The accents on the strings were synced and easily palpable, the only thing I would want more is a bass or cello solo!
Nutting ends her set touching on the subject of gender and the unfortunate equalities many face. She uses a deep masculine tone through alterations made on her vocal effects pedal, and my first dim opinion of it changed once she sung these lyrics:
“You’re so nice, you wrap around me like the summer lights.”
From then on I found it hauntingly beautiful. Nutting is a brilliant experimental artist and is definitely worth listening to.
Links to their music:
All lyrics quoted are what I heard on the night.
Corpse Bride, 2005, motion picture, Warner Bros. Pictures, UK and US.
Hinterlandt, WordPress, accessed 10 October 2016, <http://hinterlandt.org/info-2/>