Frank Bretschneider and his new album. Frank Bretschneider – Super Trigger CD/Digital (Raster-Noton)
There are other electronic minimalists, but Mr. Bretschneider’s flavor is specially associated with the microscopic click-pop-crackle-beep sort of world put forth by the Raster-Noton and Mille Plateaux labels. He was a founder of the Raster-Noton label, along with Carsten Nicolai (Alva Noto) and Olaf Bender. The implementation of identifiable rhythm and tonality, however filtered or abstracted, makes Bretschneider’s work stick out to my ears. Other artists such as Alva Noto, Atomtm, Mark Fell, and others don’t have the flavor that Bretschneider does in his tonalities and choices of rhythm construction. These aspects of his creation are distinctively simple yet thoroughly unusual – especially on albums such as Curve, Rand, and his collaborations with Taylor Deupree (Balance) and Ralph Steinbruchel(Status). There is the odd coldness of the hollow electronic space, but for me it’s somehow touched by a mystical warmth. I think it’s in the tonal / atonal composition and the texture, which of course is where it’s at for any electronic music. The “warmth”, I guess, isn’t so much the warmth of a hug, a blanket, a cup of tea, or a crackly fireplace. To me, this warmth is a warmth of richness of thought; a complexity of emotion and understanding – despite the relative sterility of the electronic bleeps, tones and statics. In the rhythms and shapes of the sounds I receive intimations of the wonder felt by deep-thinking technologists eager to push forward into the unknown future of humanity through such new methods of sound communication.
Several degrees edgier and at least 35% busier than Komet, Super Trigger is a surprising step forward for Frank Bretschneider. His minimalism seems to have begun to unravel slightly, but he remains deliciously restrained. Programming has become a bit busier, and parallel sounds at times become denser, filling out greater swathes of the sound field. Harder, danceable rhythms dominate the 13 pieces, which is a turn even further away from the microscopic subtleties of earlier recordings such as Curve. (If you’re a fan of electronic music and haven’t yet heard Curve, waste no time in seeking it out.) Super Trigger takes the same earlier approaches of solidness of rhythmic content, minimal foreground tonalities, and centerpiece textures that sometimes gesture and morph over time.
As previously noted, the rhythms take the foreground on this album, at times seeming possibly influenced by things like Mika Vainio or breakcore music. He never goes that far, but various harsher aspects of sound and rhythmic elements hint at a push in visceral energies. The beats are mostly dance-able or at least upbeat. I wanted the entire album to stream together like a DJ set, having the rhythms shift and translate in trademark Bretschneider ways over a nonstop hypno-stream of deliciously bizarre texture-rhythm. This would be probably the best minimal techno / beat album I have ever heard if it existed. Somebody please throw this idea at him and see what he says.
Though this isn’t a nonstop Frank Bretschneider DJ mix-style album, it is no less great. Even on his early albums, Bretschneider’s music has always been anti hypnotic; it shifts, gyrates, and prods the upper registers of your eardrums’ sensitivity spectrum. Each piece here is its own stimulating rhythmic world, with interesting pairings of sound creating imagined spaces. Most of these come across somewhat like rhythmic studies, playing and fishing around inside of a rhythm for the unexpected, and then awkwardly or abruptly abandoning the search. I get the feeling from this album that these are experiments moving toward some greater idea he is working on, even if the idea includes more of this loose rawness I perceive. It feels less overtly composed than Komet, Rand, or Curve, and feels less cohesive from piece to piece. This does not make me enjoy it any less. This is an interesting collection of pieces that explore distinctive ideas. It is the perfect length for a demonstration / discussion of current modes of operation and development in Mr. Bretschneider’s laboratories. This is what any album by any artist inevitably embodies, but I feel like this -different and new itself- is a genuine faith-step toward something different and new. I’m excited to hear this through this album, and will listen to it with consistent fascination until the next album is released.
Below you will please view and listen to one of the most remarkable tracks from Super Trigger: