Electronica Obscurities: Frank Bretschneider Curve
I recently managed to pick up a copy of this stone-cold glitch classic for a mere $5. That's five bucks for a double LP - proof (as if you needed it) that this stuff has fallen far below the record-buying radar.
Hard to believe that glitchy electronica was the hip sound of experimental music just a few years back. On reflection, the genre's downfall probably had a lot to do with how quickly it ossified into a state of cold, sterile formalism. How exactly did glitch start off with the wonder and magic of Oval's 94 Diskont and end up in the dross of those terrible Clicks and Cuts compilations that the Mille Plateaux label ended up foisting upon an increasingly uninterested world?
Personally, I put a lot of the blame on Carsten "Alva Noto" Nicolai's Raster-Noton label. Don't get me wrong, I think Noto is great, as is just about everything he's put out on Raster. But the label's influence is another matter. Basically the formalistic, formulaic language of those Clicks and Cuts comps was pretty much invented by Raster artists like Noto, Senking, Bytone and Komet aka Frank Bretschneider.
Curve - interestingly, released by Mille Plateaux - is probably the most beautifully realized use of the Raster language. It eschews the gritty fuzz of Basic Channel-style dub-techno and the disorientating uncanniness of post-Oval abstract electronica in favor of an incredibly elegant and formally beautiful take on IDM. Bretschneider did a beautiful job of cleansing the glitch palette and was smart enough to create music that thrived on the contradiction inherent in making something pristine out of tiny fragments of dirt and grime.
Most of the records Mille Platueaux released in the wake of Curve were merely tasteful. By creating the click'n'cut dialect, the Raster crew cleared the way for a legion of one-dimensional crap perpetrated by point-missing imitators. Consequently, glitch started to suck and all but the most dedicated devotees lost interest.
In a sense, then, Curve is the sound of Frank Bretschneider digging his own grave. But - like I said - he did a beautiful job of it.