Review: Frank Bretschneider - Kippschwingungen

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.