Boomkat Product Review:
The precision tooled but playfully haphazard minimalism of Frank Bretschneider’s debut album resurfaces on the pivotal Mille Plateaux label over 20 years since it was conceived
Far from Bretschneider’s first work, which dates way back to the mid-‘80s, ‘Rand’ is technically the first under his own name, and pays witness to the birth of a compositional style and aesthetic that he would come to define with his releases and role in co-founding the Raster-Noton label beside Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto.)
Hailing from former communist East Germany, Bretschneider’s music is patently inspired by the austerity of life behind the iron curtain, working with a greyscale tonal palette and the most sparing bleeps in a way that sometimes sounds like he can’t find a pfennig for the meter, or is at least being very frugal with the supply. But despite their bleakness, his creations are always full of character, allowing his modular systems and machines to express their quietest, internal thought, which range from barely-there morse code to more playfully rhythmic spasms.
“The 20 tracks of the album are the result of a computer based, modulated synthesizer system. There is no difference between sound and composition anymore. One sound may represent the whole track. Tracks are not created by classic sequencer technology, but all movements, series of sounds, and orders of tones are the result of unorthodox connected Synthesizer modules (LFO’s, oscillators, filters, amplification). Developed sound-events, which are mostly chaotic and accidental, are brought into ‘form’ by special controllers. The result is minimal, often sketchy tracks, which are more constructed than improvised and are most often finished after the idea of the track is crystallized. Fragments of minimal structure are added slowly and carefully, sometimes taken out and then put back in after further thought. Other beat fragments seem lost and out-of-place, until low frequency clicks are locked in. Even if the albumis contemporary electronic music, it is still inspired by the idea of new and experimental pop music.”