INTERVIEW: FRANK BRETSCHNEIDER: BBC (2005)
FRANK BRETSCHNEIDER :
BBC - CUT AND SPLICE (UK)
"I always had this visual sense of my music on the screen; the moving bars, dots, lines."
Frank Bretschneider was born and raised in Karl-Marx-Stadt (now Chemnitz) East Germany. After inspiration from the soundtracks of sci-fi radio plays and movies, his first electronic music experiments with tape machines, synths and treated guitars began in 1984. In 1986 he formed the band AG.GEIGE, a group heavily influenced by Dada, The Residents and Soviet Science Fiction authors Arkady and Boris Strugatsky. After the break-up of AG.GEIGE in 1992, Bretschneider and bandmate Olaf Bender decided to continue their musical experiments, but had difficulty finding a label to release their work. In 1995 they formed their own label, Rastermusic, which forged a distinctive aesthetic producing abstract, yet accessible, electronic music.
In 1999 Rastermusic merged with artist Carsten Nicolai's Noton label to form Raster-Noton. Since the merger the label has focused both on sound and art design, releasing four different series of CDs (20' to 2000, Clear, Static, and Rasterpost), as well as constructing art installations and multimedia performances. The label's various projects, including art, design, science, performance and, of course, music, are chronicled and critically examined in a recent book, Oacis .
For Bretschneider, the points of intersection between visual art and music explored by Raster-Noton have long been of interest. The visual aspects of composing electronic music, the images on his computer monitor and the blinking LEDs on his synthesizer are an important part of his work. He explores the possibilities of an exchange between visual art and music by various means such as computer graphics and video or graphic composition. To this end he creates live visualizations based on the frequency and amplitude behavior of his music.
Bretschneider creates his music with a modular computer-aided synthesizer system and with the use of various synthesis techniques. Using two of the most basic sound sources, sine waves and white noise, he creates short, one to four bar parts; all motions and progressions come into being from the, often unconventional, connected modules (lfo's, oscillators, filters, envelope generators, logic modules). These, partly chaotic, sequences are recorded to a harddisk system for further treatment. The results are minimal, flowing, interwoven structures, determined by experiment and chance.
Over the course of eight albums under the Komet moniker and countless other projects under his own name, Bretschneider has created and perfected a wonderfully minimal dance groove aesthetic that relies on sharp snaps, subtle basslines, and red-hot breaks. With his critically acclaimed releases he has created some of the most influential spatial electronics of recent years. Unlike so much output in the microscopic music scene, his music has always flourished with activity. Bretschneider goes beyond the plug-in or plug research electronics. He redefines the genre by rendering the parameters playable, reentering the musical domain with unprecedented ease. He discovers the complexity of the virtual: microtonality, clicks, complex rhythm textures and melodic fragments. He generates a perfect musical body and succeeds in delivering a stunning exhibition of sound.