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Frank Bretschneider

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  • It should be heard by an audience beyond the Ostalgic: eerie alien plateaus of tone give way to insectile rhythms which evoke all kinds of minimal rhythm explorations. Kippschwingungen is one long, gorgeously austere continuum of sound which unfolds into delightful and astringent spaces.
    (The Wire, UK)

  • An amazing album, starting from sound research & eventually finding its way to quasi minimal electro industrial sound.

  • … a wormholing 37-minute experience, deftly and intently exploring the machine’s limitations to discover mind-warping cosmic turbulence and penetrate extraordinary, otherworldly sonic dimensions whilst somehow sustaining a tangible narrative arc. It’s more “out there” than either his Rhythm or Komet albums and strongly recommended.

  • Austere and alien, Bretschneider’s compositions are uncompromising in execution. Pulsing white noise and click rhythms abound here, evolving slowly over time but ultimately resulting in a type of sonic stasis. By “Part 7,” things open up a bit more, with Bretschneider allowing his oscillators to finally breathe. Formally immaculate and unyielding in focus, “Kippschwingungen” fits perfectly with LINE’s body of work.

  • With my previous exposure to Bretschneider’s working consisting exclusively of Rhythm, EXP and last year’s KometKippschwingungen is something of a surprise. The album was primarily devised on the near-extinct Subharchord synthesizer, which was initially intended to provide sonic special effects for television and film back in the 60s. Needless to say, there’s no remnants of Rhythm’s clinical bass punches or Komet’s fluid techno hypnosis; Bretschneider has stripped back to the simplicity of one sonic generator and homed in further to observe the nature of just a handful of its functions, with Kippschwingungen characterised very strongly by its droning pitches and eternal ring modulation.

    It’s a sound that has frequented his recent output – often scattered in between the rhythmically driven pieces like a “timewarp” style segue – but the fact that the album is largely founded on a live recording means that it throbs out into physical space rather than being wired into the ears with digital immediacy. Often its rapid-fire throbs feel like rings of light, shooting over the listener’s head as if they’re hurtling through a deep space wormhole, tilting and turning as volume and frequency are adjusted with a delicate laboratory precision. Reverb is trickled over the electronics and then let loose in ghostly howls, blurring the cascade of pulses into a stream of noise. Only the occasional deviation into the sparse pitter-patter of clicks and pops offer fleeting respite; Kippschwingungen is otherwise devoted to minor adjustments and mutations of its central texture, contorting within its stasis before its kaleidoscopically dazzled listener. Pure and beautiful.
    (ATTN:magazine, UK)

  • Kippschwingungen is a penetrating album which will be released on LINE records. Formed of eight shimmering compositions which were recorded by using a subharmonic sound generators Subharchord and Clavia Micro Modular. They generate alternating sine waves on the ring modulator input of the instrument and computer processing. The basis of this album stands on the sequential developing of precisely modified instrument sound that frequently transforms its oscillation. Impressive variety of generated glitches and cinematic textures strengthens the whole atmosphere. It sounds like malfunction scene from Stanley Kubric’s timeless film 2001: A Space Odyssey – mathematical and dimensional sound. It’s a very exquisite and extraordinary record that any text loses its meaning. Secret Thirteen Journal strongly recommends to experience it personally.

    Kippschwingungen is like a speedy diving through the scenic cosmos wormholes and leaving chaotic turbulence that creates impossible bizarre Doppler effect.

  • A single piece broken into eight logical segments, Kippschwingungen works as a long-form composition as well as in smaller, track-sized bites, something that is rare in this world of sound art.  It does not require to be heard in full, nor does it sink off into the background if attention is not focused solely on it.

    The short opening passage, a monochromatic outburst of wet motor noise panning from side to side, sets the stage for what comes.  The following part adds sweeping layers of nasal electronic sound, slowly building into what sounds more like the work of a traditional synthesizer.  Slowly but surely a layer of dry clicks and pops arise, balanced precariously between glitches and true rhythmic structures.

    These clicks become a dominant motif through the next few movements, an almost jarring outburst that sounds like an over-amplified needle piercing cloth.  What sounds like began life as static eventually becomes a full-fledged rhythm, locking into an identifiable structure as a quiet layer of ambient electronics surrounds it.  These proto-beats get deeper and rawer, becoming an approximation of a 909 kick drum thump that is panned from side to side.

    The textures shift from identifiable rhythms to a jackhammer-like outburst of noise. While it is a thin, brittle sound, the subharcord shows that it was capable of serving its original, sound effect generating purpose.  Eventually the repeated pulses slow down, breaking apart like an overworked engine.

    The final three segments wander in a more abrasive direction, with the rhythmic throb resembling a helicopter being subjected to an array of processing and effects, staying static but evolving at the same time.  Finally the piece comes to its conclusion first as a rapid fire, disorienting blast of sound and then finally a roaring, raw sine wave.

    Kippschwingungen is definitely a concept album, but one that manages to cross-over from the often stoic, academic world of sound art and into an abstract, yet memorable piece of electronic music.  With the admittedly odd uses of rhythms and textures, there becomes a certain sense of, for lack of a better term, catchiness that comes out.  It is this that makes Bretschneider’s album stand out amidst a crowd of similar, but less compelling practitioners.

  • Cuando se habla de instrumentos para hacer música electrónica, los aparatos diseñados en la antigua República Democrática de Alemania tienen fama de ser sorprendentes para lo bueno y para lo malo: cacharros que casi siempre fracasaron en su intento por imitar los modelos que se fabricaban en el mundo (ejem) occidental, pero que a cambio poseían un insólito potencial para producir sonidos de naturaleza alienígena. Ese es el caso del Subharcord, un generador de ondas subarmónicas, creado en la década de los sesenta para realizar efectos de sonido en radio y televisión, a imagen del Trautonium de Oskar Sala y del Electronium de Raymond Scott. Su escaso éxito comercial (se fabricaron apenas ocho unidades, de las que sólo sobreviven tres), tiene que ver precisamente con su capacidad única de manejarse por el rango más bajo del espectro audible. Una capacidad que Frank Bretschneider exprime al máximo en Kippschwingungen, un disco en el que todos los sonidos están realizados con el Subharcord (con ayuda puntual de un módulo Clavia), pero en el que se nota su mano por todas partes. Ritmos crujientes, racimos de notas circulares, pulsos mecanicistas y drones densos como el puré se amontonan en siete pistas que fluyen en continuidad, buscando acomodo en algún punto indeterminado entre el techno hipercinético que Bretschneider suele publicar como Komet y la electroacústica clásica, y que alcanzan todo su potencial cuando se escuchan en un buen equipo, a ese volumen en el que los vecinos comienzan a aporrear las paredes. Pero no hagan caso: suban aún más el volumen y dejen que los subgraves golpeen con violencia en la boca del estómago.
    (GoMag, ES)

  • It’s all very Raster Noton with some very clinical cold sounding microbeats which sound like they’re almost splitting at the seams. There’s some clever use of stereo in the mix as the music shifts from speaker to speaker making you feel a bit mental. It’s micro-techno essentially and the word minimal has sprung to mind often as I’m listening to this. There’s some nice spacey sound effect in the background and I’m as I’m progressing towards the end of the album it gets way more intense with the beat dissipating into a strange alien like insect noise. It’s not for everyone but if you like experimental electronics with clean rhythms then you should check this out.

  • Frank Bretschneider is someone who works with new ideas. From his strict minimalist dance music of Komet about a decade ago, and the more clean cuts of his earlier 21st century work, his music can be ambient or dance like. Or both. Here he has a work that deals with the Subharchord, a ‘unique instrument developed during the 1960s at the technical center for radio and television of the East German postal service. Apparently eight machines were made and three survived. Apparently the Subharchord is a bit like the Mixturtrautonium, a subharmonic sound generator. Bretschneider worked for two weeks on the machine, especially focussing on the ‘Mel’ filter, a narrow-band filter and the part that provides the ‘rhythmization’. He also used clavia micro modular synthesizer for additional filtering. Now this is a great CD. It has all the Bretschneider elements in it: click rhythms, looped clusters of synthesized sounds, such as in the drone heavy sixth part, moving over into a loop heavy rhythmic drone of the seventh part. Each of the parts flow in a natural way into the next and makes the whole eight part work into one story. An excellent work.
    (Vital Weekly, NL)

  • Frank Bretschneider es un músico y artista de video alemán legendario, hoy tiene 56 años, siempre ha estado ligado a algunas de las tendencias más experimentales de la electrónica. Pionero en grabaciones basadas en ecuaciones matemáticas manipulando cintas, sintetizadores muy rústicos y modificando algunos instrumentos como guitarras. Conocido también por ser fundador, junto con Alva Noto y Olaf Bender, del sello de música minimalista electrónica Raster-Noton.

    La historia detrás de este álbum “Kippschwingungen” comienza desde el 2007, cuando es invitado hacer un trabajo basado en el instrumento llamado Subharchord, utilizado sobretodo en la música concreta, por gente como Karlheinz Stockhausen. Sólo se fabricaron 8 Subharchords y en la actualidad sobreviven 3 en buen estado, lo definen como un generador de sonidos sub-armónicos.

    Así que desde el concepto ya es un tanto ambiguo, sonidos minimalistas, texturas y largos pasajes monótonos con fuertes dosis de intelecto detrás. De pronto es complicado asimilar y evaluar niveles tan sofisticados, siempre está la disyuntiva que es más importante ¿El concepto, el discurso, lo estrictamente musical, o el hecho histórico? Pero sin duda interesante sobretodo para los enterados en el rescate de sonidos alternos de la electrónica. (8/10).

  • More ‘technique’ than ‘techno’, his creation of minutely detailed filter fluctuations, rhythmical pulses and eerie resonances are a pure joy.

  • Recuerdos de la guerra fría transmutados a ondas que viajan por el espacio más de cincuenta años después de su fabricación. Lo que tenemos entre manos es unas versión reducida de solo treinta y siete minutos de la presentación original. Tal y como se ve en la hermosa artwork que ilustra la portada, la música parecen viajar como partículas alrededor del átomo. Pequeños organismos inertes que se trasladan en circuitos. Kippschwingungen es como la banda sonora futurista en tiempos de confrontaciones entre bloques. Fracturado en ocho partes asimétricas, el conjunto es una misma línea de electrónica pura y cristalina que sin embargo, nace d una maquina humana que intenta reproducir el mañana. Y para enfrentarse a ese mañana Bretschneider utilizo métodos de producción de hoy, luego de interiorizarse con este instrumento dos semanas. Este disco, a veces más cercano al laboratorio, encaja perfectamente en Line, pero a su vez esa inquietud permanente del alemán, de decomponer el ritmo hace de esta una obra un tanto impredecible. Uniformidad multiplicada por erosiones inmersas entre cada trazo. Entre cada punto siempre hay un punto. Acá  es igual: entre cada sonido hay un sonido, aunque no se perciba a primeras. Además, esta es prácticamente una sesión en vivo, una edición de su exhibición en el SoundExchange, agregando nuevos sonidos que quedaban desde el 2007, su estreno. Errores que no parecen dentro de este mudo de efectos especiales maravillosos.

    Frank Bretschneider, a través de sus ‘ondas de sierra’, convierte el ritmo, ondas de movimiento controlado, pequeñas piezas de arte que fluye entre ruidos entre los ruidos, por medio de la simple manipulación de un arma sonora de post-guerra. Oscilaciones en repeticiones permanentes por entre los circuitos aún con vida de una vieja máquina que del inactividad del museo pasa a un CD en manos de Frank Bretschneider, el hombre máquina.

  • Rhythmische Regentropfen: Das minimalistische Klangkunstwerk “Kippschwingungen”

    Das Subharchord zählt zu einer aussterbenden Spezies. Ganze drei funktionierende Stück dieses Soundgenerators für Untertöne soll es auf der Welt noch geben, nämlich in Berlin, Trondheim (Norwegen) und im Technischen Museum in Wien. Das Ins- trument wurde in den 1960er Jahren in der DDR entwickelt, um Spezialeffekte für Ton- und Filmstudios zu erzeugen. Acht Stück gab es damals noch.

    Der deutsche Experimentalmusiker Frank Bretschneider komponierte auf dem fast schon vergessenen Gerät “Kippschwingungen”, welcher Titel zugleich das Hörerlebnis treffend beschreibt: denn Kippschwingungen bezeichnen Signale, die kontinuierlich ansteigen und dann abrupt abfallen. Dieses Auf und Ab zieht sich wie ein roter Faden durch das 37-minütige Stück.

    Der kraftvolle Sound generiert Klänge, die an die Natur erinnern, an das zarte und pausenlose Zirpen von Grillen, das rhythmische Tropfen von Regen. Das steigert sich in Ausdauer und Intensität und mündet in eine pulsierende sphärische Klanglandschaft, die Science-Fiction-Filme wie “2001: A Space Odyssey” in Erinnerung rufen. Bretschneider spielt auch mit den Längen der Töne und ihren Höhen und Tiefen – und schafft damit ein minimalistisches Werk, ohne abgedroschene Clicks und Cuts. “Kippschwingungen” ist Dramaturgie pur, ein schönes Klangkaleidoskop.

  • Ein kleiner Schatz meiner Plattensammlung ist eine 1964 erschienene 10″ mit dem treffenden Titel “Experimentelle Musik”. Im “Experimentalstudio für künstliche Klang- und Geräuscherzeugung” des Ostberliner Rundfunk- und Fernsehtechnischen Zentralamts der Deutschen Post wurden dafür mit einem an eben diesem RFZ entwickelten Musikinstrument namens Subharchord höchst spannende Stücke eingespielt. Von der guten Handvoll der damals gebauten Instrumente existieren noch drei, eines davon konnte FB 2007 dafür nutzen, die Spezifika der Untertöne (Näheres zur Theorie verkneife ich mir hier) in einen modernen Kontext zu transponieren. Das gelingt natürlich, denn hier erkundet ein begeisterter KlangForscher eine noch recht unverbrauchte Klangwelt. 5 stars

  • Instead of alluding to cold war technologies and the oppressive environments that could hamper their emergence, the 37-minute work is a fully-formed contemporary study from within Bretschneider’s customary ‘audio cleanroom’. The first three parts take us on a smooth but stealthy surge through a labyrinthine air conditioning unit navigated by distant pulses,  the atmosphere getting denser as a deep click regularly knits the air. But such regularity never lasts for long, surprisingly denying itself the opportunity to form anything approaching a funky beat, before the strength of the pulses describe a rolling fan-engine smoothly rising and falling in a controlled environment from which Bretschneider teases out complex Moiré-patterned rhythms., The sixth and seventh parts (of eight) house Kippschwingungen‘s most climactic manoeuvres: menacing lo-end pulses build to an acidic trance before acceleration shifts the illusion once more to suggest shimmering voices culminating in an intense sonic strobe effect. Part eight concludes matters as the fan’s power is cut and the pulses take their time to come to a glorious rest., The whole piece feels like a gyroscopic ballet that places the listener centre stage as the waveforms dance around them. Indeed,  Bretschneider’s visualisation of the piece (a still from which is used for the front cover),  used on the few occasions he has performed it live,  features three-dimensional wireframes of circular shapes that act like a post-rationalised score, throbbing,  spinning and morphing to highlight the subtlest of modulations in the complex mix. As such,  it is the only element that feels lacking from an otherwise immersive and imaginative flight that brings new perspectives to old machines.

  • Et on tient une nouvelle raison de nous réjouir puisque l’excellent label Line – pour ceux qui n’ont pas encore lu notre déclaration d’amour envers cette structure, c’est le moment – vient récemment de publier le nouvel album du géant Allemand.

    Kippschwungungen, ou comment s’approprier un des synthétiseurs les plus rares du monde pour conquérir l’espace sonore. Ou l’espace tout court. Car ce disque, pardonnez-nous de ne pas remettre à chaque fois le titre de cette plaque imprononçable, est avant tout un disque cosmique, froid et mathématique. Un disque qui est marqué par la personnalité de son synthétiseur : le Subharchord, instrument de fabrication allemande (tiens donc), édité à seulement huit exemplaires dans les années 60’s, et aujourd’hui seulement à trois exemplaires référencés. Difficile de faire plus exclusif, et plus précieux comme bécane.

    Mais attention, si Kippschwungungen est un disque pour astronautes, on est clairement dans le côté scientifique de la prose. Pas de délires imagés à la Jean-Michel Jarre ou à la Lindstrom, ici le mythe du Mensch-Maschine flirte avec le meilleur d’Arpanet, de l’electronica tonale et de la physique quantique. Un disque qui peut paraître monochrome au premier abord mais qui libère les sens une fois passées les premières écoutes. Une véritable incursion dans l’espace tel qu’imaginé dans ces époques plus reculées : fait de gris, de noir et de rouge, avec des Allemands qui portent des lunettes carrées et qui travaillent sur des ordinateurs de la taille de ton appartement. Histoire d’entretenir la flamme sous cloche de verre.