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Frank
Bretschneider: Sinn + Form (Raster-Noton)

Frank
Bretschneider flexes his modular synthesis muscle with this special
collection of eight tracks recorded on location at EMS in Stockholm
using their Buchla and Serge analog synthesizer systems. Whereas
Bretschneider has been known to throw down some serious grooves in
the past, here he’s oscillated back toward his most experimental
tendencies, focusing on the sculpting of his synthesized sounds and
only that. With Sinn+Form (meaning + form), Bretschneider focuses
around “the idea of a fundamentally chaotic world as we know it
from mathematical physical theories and models (dynamical systems,
probability theory, stochastic systems), and the constant attempt of
man to recognize and to describe, predict, control, and change this
world.”

The music within mirrors Bretschneider’s chaos theory,
while my ears often try to find patterns that aren’t there.
Ironically named, opener “Pattern Recognition” is a dry sprawl of
stereo synthesis, occasionally wetting its feet with delay but
otherwise a rollercoaster of bending and squiggling sound, while
“Free Market” points a finger at capitalism with an initial
scathing scrawl of synthesis that eventually squirms and sputters
wildly. It’s truly fascinating sound design on vintage gear, echoing
the seminal efforts of mid 20th century composers like
David Tudor and Karlheinz Stockhausen much like the unpredictable
shape making of his contemporary, Florian Hecker. However, this is a
labor of love, not music aimed at even the slightest of casual
listeners. Bretschneider’s excitement over his toolkit comes through
in the vibrant editing and sequencing of sounds within Sinn+Form, but
for me this is a definite case of meaning over form, resulting in a
rather obtuse forty minutes of unpredictable and discordant sounds
that are likely to make even the most seasoned listener squirm in
his/her seat after a while.

It’s simultaneously impressive and alien,
like a transmission from some unknown destination communicated in
wildly complex code. Those who delight in unpredictable and unusual
sounds (Rashad Becker, Florian Hecker, Mark Fell) will likely be
moved — whether emotionally or at least physically — by
Bretschneider’s synthesis sculpting.

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