Berlin-based electronic musician Frank Bretschneider is one of those figures who never seems to stop moving, whether he’s adding to the sprawling backcatalogue of music that he’s released under his given name, under his parallel Komet alias, or as part of his collaborations as Signal alongside Carsten Nicolai and Olaf ‘Byetone’ Bender. Having said that though, this latest longplayer under his own name ‘Lunik’ follows a good three years on from his preceding ‘Sinn & Form’ album on Raster-Noton, the closest thing to an extended break in Bretschneider’s prolific schedule during the last decade.
Perhaps more than anything, there’s a feeling of approachability and immediacy to the eleven tracks collected, with the oil droplet-style psychedelia of the sleeve hinting at the increased use of colour on display here. As is characteristic for Bretschneider, there’s also an emphasis on conciseness and economy of arrangement here, and there’s never a sense of these tracks becoming unnecessarily cluttered or ornate. Instead, the main priority is servicing the groove above everything else.
The first half of this album sees Bretschneider holding back on the bpms and allowing the momentum to build gradually as the tracklisting progresses, with the more danceable offerings arriving later in the piece. ‘Elektrik’ opens things with a languid wander out into dubby krautrock-tinged atmospheres that sees satellite-like analogue bleeps rippling out against a backdrop of stripped-down motorik rhythms and icy bass arpeggios, the delayed-out snares drifting with a sense of loose swagger that calls to mind Rhythm & Sound’s similarly ghostly electronic dub explorations.
‘Numerik’ meanwhile sees eerie synthesised voice samples bleeding into droning harmonic tones as a shuffling groove begins to emerge out of the ether, with what sounds like a looped funk sample adding a sense of swing as ringing percussive textures lock in against feathery snares and aquatic bubbling sounds. Elsewhere, ‘Elastik’ places a fractured hiphop groove at its centre while distorted digital treatments arc and contort against murmuring sub-bass and glassy reverberating electronics, the track’s arrhythmic tics and hiccups adding a treacherous undertone to the lulling grooves.
It isn’t until this album’s last quarter that the more danceable rhythms start to reveal themselves, with ‘Plastik’ sending a thudding 4/4 kickdrum pulse rolling beneath a backdrop of sparkling electronics while digitally contorted buzzes snake into the foreground. ‘Sputnik’ ushers in some of the biggest dancefloor grooves here as a thick analogue bassline powers its way beneath jazzy keyboard riffs and echoing percussive tones, the ambient pads that hang in the background like a mirage adding to the sense of sheeny grandeur. Fans of Bretschneider’s preceding explorations into minimalistic flowing groove will find ‘Lunik’ one of his most immediate and inviting albums yet.