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Frank Bretschneider – Super.trigger


Frank Bretschneider - Super.triggerThe mechanics of funk

On this newest offering from Raster-Noton head Frank Bretschneider, the man behind Komet, sets aside amorphous drones and textures to explore the basic principles of dance music: rhythm.

Super.trigger is essentially a collection of studio improvisations made between 2012-2013, then edited and re-configured into nine tracks of taut, sparse machine rhythms. This is the sound of an artist at work, struggling to get to know his machines, striving towards mastery. Bretschneider has been making music since 1984, so he has come a long way towards that goal. Super.Trigger is like a catalog of beats, a database of swing and groove. Bretschneider is trying to get all the possibilities, all the combinations, with the serious steadfastness of a biologist studying a new continent.

His music has been described as “abstract analogue pointilism,” “hypnotic echochamber pulsebeat” and “an absolute trove of percussive tensions and frequency driven finesse.” These descriptors are apt, but fail to register the groove present on his records. On the press release for Super.Trigger they say, “the whole follows simple mechanical states-on/off, up/down, soft/hard, slow/fast, loud/quiet-and is characterized by the absence of any romanticism.” I disagree. There is soul in the way Bretschneider organizes the beats and frequencies. It’s conceptual, but it still swings.

Super.Trigger is noteworthy as it cuts through a conundrum facing every electronic producer living and working in 2013: too many possibilities. When you can sample the entirety of recorded history, with nearly infinite layers, it is like living in a vacuum. Every direction at once equals no direction at all, and every artist needs to figure out for his or herself what they are trying to say. One of the ways of going about this is by stripping down to essentials and imposing limitations. Bretschneider’s experience as a long-standing producer and performer gives him the necessary tools to cut through the wool, and deliver tight, sharp, pointed compositions. New musicians and programmers would do well to study this man’s work (and everything else on Raster-Noton, for that matter).

The confused and academic language of some reviews just goes to show that people don’t know what to do with Bretschneider’s work. While it may have an intelligent and thoughtful underpinning, this material is not merely conceptual. In an interview with Attn:Magazine, he states that the ideal situation for this material to be heard was in a club, as it requires a certain amount of volume to come across. This is not gallery wallpaper for over-educated hipsters to stand around and stroke their chins. This is for the faithful, the club-devotees, those that love to dance, who are looking for every possible variation and subdivision to get down. Jungle fiends and drum ‘n bass heads, this one’s for you.

A recent upsurge in stripped-down, minimalist percussive music (Vatican Shadow, Cut Hands, Best Available Technology, Ekoplekz) show that the time is right for people to grok this material, and to be introduced to the precision world of Raster-Noton, which has always been clean, conceptual and European but also some of the most powerful and effective dance music around, forwarding the futurist cause of techno. Trance warriors are getting down to hardware sounds in warehouses and under bridges all over the world. A movement is spreading, and there’s a lot of great art that’s coming out of it.

To sum up, a quote from that great Attn: interview mentioned above:

I really admire all of these really great musicians and bands, the moments they’re get “tight“ when they play together and interacting with each other, when music speaks for itself and reaches a certain amount of “soul“ or “deepness“. I love to listen to black music: funk, R&B, jazz, dub, hip hop… They have a really certain feeling for rhythm. On the other hand I‘m unfortunately this kind of white intellectual middle class German guy, probably a bit overeducated from listening to experimental, highly abstract “avant-garde” music.

So I try to bring a bit together both worlds, my love for rhythm and the joy of listening to urban contemporary music with my desire to explore and experiment and to see what I can do with computer generated music.

Black/White. High/Low. Bretschneider is breaking down boundaries, with the heart and ears of a true adventurer. That rare breed of pure artist, total tonal explorer, who is seeking to make the tightest, funkiest music around. Well, seek and ye shall find, so go find a copy of this stellar new album, and become acquainted with Bretschneider’s mechanistic Soul.

-J Simpson-

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