Gramsci – The Hinterlands: 13th Floor Album Review

Gramsci takes us to The Hinterlands on this follow-up to last year’s beguiling Inheritance.

When we last saw Gramsci, bandleader Paul McLaney was letting rip at the ASB Waterfront Theatre along with Greg Haver on drums and Jol Mulholland on guitar (click here for the concert review and photos).

But that was back in October. This version of Gramsci finds bass player extraordinaire Marika Hodgson holding down the bottom end while Paul handles all guitar duties. Haver is still behind the kits, louder and heavier than ever.

While John Bonham may come to mind while listening to The Hinterlands, Haver has the power of the great man, but possibly a bit more finesse.

The definition of ‘Hinterland’ is a remote area away from cities, coasts and rivers…in German it’s, ‘the land behind’. And while that may sound remote and desolate, the music here is anything but.

McLaney’s Gramsci (he also records under his own name and as The Impending Adorations) has been called ‘music for mindfulness’, something that feels quite necessary in these uncertain times.

“The time is now at hand, we enter into the Hinterland”, McLaney intones on the title track. Indeed as Paul claims in this recent 13th Floor interview, it is a song for the moment.

Sonically, this is a record that demands to be listened to loudly and as one piece. Of course in these days of Spotify playlists and such, that goes against any current trends of how to market your music. But let’s face it, with the pittance being paid out to artists, why not at least follow your own vision of how your music should be presented. As McLaney has admitted, “My career is a complete exposition of what not to do”.

And I say, “good on him!”.

There’s plenty to dig into throughout the 11 songs that comprise The Hinterlands…philosophy, social commentary, yearning and self-discovery.

As Paul sings in Heaven In A Wildflower, “We can choose to watch the world burn, or we can admire Haven in a wildflower”.

Or, I might add, you can turn this bad boy up to 11 and let the music wash over you.

Marty Duda

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