Review: Frank Bretschneider - "Exp"


Frank Bretschneider


By Jefferson

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Anyone who caught Frank Bretschneider's set at Seattle's 2009 Decibel Festival  will know what they're in for here. Purely abstracted, painstakingly constructed, 'experimentations' of rhythm patterns and electronic textural elements where the core aspects of the sonic architecture have been stripped away, revealing the inner workings of a precise, austere clockwork. Having followed the Raster-Noton imprint and its core artists of Bretschneider, Olaf Bender and Carsten Nicolai (known to most for his Alva Noto project), for over a decade it's been an illuminating adventure to see them evolve in spectacular, complex and stunning ways. Like many of the releases on Raster, Exp. is an exploration of abstract geometry and metaphoric space as though the envisioned structures had been 'unbuilt,' reducing them to just the lattice-work, glass and outlines, lacking the mass and material necessary to uphold the physics of such a 'building.'

Exp. is released as both an audio CD and CD-ROM where the original material sculpted into these musical/visual forms - an array of generated and selected waveforms sourced from pure electricity, magnetism, light and other radiation - translates literally into the audio-visual end result. Divided between 35 tracks, each ranging between 13 seconds and nearly three minutes, the pieces are fluidly rhythmic, textural, dynamic and ambient by turns. Bretschneider sculpts these around engulfing bass tones, dissonant tonal punctuation and ultra-visceral high-end pinpoints, occasionally arriving at moments where electro-acoustic environments rise up from within the mix in delirious illusions of perspective and speed. Where so much experimental electronic music of the past couple years have maintained the status-quo or worse, sorely disappointed (think the most recent Autechre), Raster-Noton continues to not only forge ahead, but deliver bewilderingly potent visions seemingly from the future, this new work by Bretschneider being their most far-reaching to date. So, the question remains; are you ready to hear what that future holds?