For his new release on LINE, Frank Bretschneider presents an album of compositions sourced from the Subharchord, an obscure "electronic instrument developed during the 1960's at the RFZ, the technical center for radio and television of the East German postal service." These sounds, augmented by material culled from Clavia Micro Modular synthesizer, were arranged into the eight part composition "Kippschwingungen." 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. - Alex Cobb, Experimedia
In 2007, Frank Bretschneider was invited to compose music for the Subharchord, a unique electronic instrument developed during the 1960's at the RFZ, the technical center for radio and television of the East German postal service. Built in a limited edition of eight machines total, only three Subharcords (in Vienna, Trondheim and Berlin) are believed to survive to this day. The Subharchord is, broadly defined, a subharmonic sound generator, comparable soundwise to the Mixturtrautonium. It's suggested main purpose was to be the central "special effects" machine at film or broadcast studios.
Bretschneider's aim was to combine an almost forgotten technology with the music and production methods of today. After two weeks of exploring the instrument and excited by the beautiful and extremely powerful sound, he decided to use mainly the extraordinarily narrow-band "Mel"-filter and the built in "Rhythmisierungseinrichtung" (rhythmization installation). For additional modulation, Bretschneider used a Clavia Micro Modular, generating alternating sinewaves on the ring modulator input of the instrument.
The first performance took place in June 2007 in Berlin, Germany, as part of the TESLA-Werkstatt Klangapparate project, followed by a second concert in November the same year at Wien Modern festival in Vienna, Austria. Eventually in 2011, on the occasion of SoundExchange, a series of concerts initiated to discover the experimental music scene in Eastern Europe during cold war times, Bretschneider was asked to re-visit the Subharchord project once again. Slightly editing the original live recording and adding new overdubs from sounds that remained from the 2007 recording sessions, Bretschneider has created a compelling and flowing 37 minute version for this release.
Kippschwingungen part 1 (02:36)
Kippschwingungen part 2 (03:55)
Kippschwingungen part 3 (05:56)
Kippschwingungen part 4 (06:35)
Kippschwingungen part 5 (01:57)
Kippschwingungen part 6 (07:21)
Kippschwingungen part 7 (06:11)
Kippschwingungen part 8 (02:31)
Frank Bretschneider: Subharchord and Clavia Micro Modular synthesizers
Basic tracks recorded live at TESLA, Berlin, June 2007; recording engineers: Daniel Dorsch, Mattef Kuhlmay.
Additional overdubs, editing and mixing by Frank Bretschneider at studio klangFarBe, Berlin, October-November, 2011.
Mastered by Lupo at Dubplates and Mastering, Berlin.
All music by Frank Bretschneider, 2012
Cover image by Frank Bretschneider, taken from the live visualization of Kippschwingungen.
Thanks to Carsten Seiffarth for encouraging and initiating the project, Georg Geike for technical support, and Richard Chartier for the chance to release this work.
With my previous exposure to Bretschneider's working consisting exclusively of Rhythm, EXP and last year's Komet, Kippschwingungen 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.
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.
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)