Live Review: Automat, Hinterlandt

17 November 2015 | 2:11 pm | Andrew McDonald

"Stripped of the guest vocalists present on the recorded artefacts, the band's kosmiche-influenced repetitive electro-rocking becomes trance-like."

Jochen Gutsch, performing solo under the Hinterlandt moniker, begun the even German instrumental grooves with an entrancing and complex set. Built around guitar loops sampled on the fly and pre-prepared drum grooves, Gutsch created expansive soundscapes within which he was able to explore his own musical interests. The set moved effortlessly between groove-driven industrial rock, soaring 1970s-reminiscent progressive guitar, delicate electronica and truly experimental, near micro-noise levels of sampledelica. Never has a half empty water bottle been sampled to create such heavy sounds.

The main event though, was Germany's Automat. Comprising Einstürzende Neubauten guitarist Jochen Arbeit, Project Pitchfork drummer Achim Färber and bassist Georg Zeitblom of Sovetskoe Foto, the trio is a veritable supergroup of German experimentalism. Stripped of the guest vocalists present on the recorded artefacts, the band's kosmiche-influenced repetitive electro-rocking becomes trance-like. Live, the trio's bass and drum work becomes a rigid and mechanical structure to house the experimental and shoegaze-stylised guitar work of Arbeit.

Automat exists as a tribute to Berlin. From the song titles named after German transport routes to the Kraftwerk-reminiscent digitised vocal loops, there is very little that doesn't scream romanticised Germany about Automat. Fortunately, this comes across as a loving and affectionate exchange of culture rather than an imposing or awkward exclusivism. In spite of most of the band's songs essentially sounding similar on paper — groove-based rhythms housing experimental guitar jams — the sheer power of the band allows for each song to not only have its own feeling, but its own living and grooving personality. That the group was able to whip the Glebe Town Hall into an impromptu dance club is no surprise. Automat is easy to enjoy and pleasantly challenging to understand.