Brandt Brauer Frick successfully fuse electronic and acoustic sounds without the end product sounding like a forced marriage. And that’s no small accomplish- ment, considering the sheer number of mismatched electronic-versus-acoustic failures we’ve had to endure in the noughties. Instead of attempting to recreate the conventional rhythms and sounds of electronic music, the trio has reinterpreted them with (predominantly) classical instrumentation to startlingly danceable results. Be sure to catch them live next Saturday along with Karin Park and Fil Lavin when Electronic Beats hits Montenegro!
A as in Arab Spring:
A new beginning can’t take place without dealing with the ghosts of the past. Still, we see the Arab Spring as a big chance and it’s good for set political structures to be rearranged—at least we hope it is.
B as in Johann Sebastian Bach:
On the ensemble version of “Bop” we include a hidden B-AC-H melody. (Think H as in B and B as in B-flat, like in the German system. And be aware that the melody may be transposed.) Whoever can figure out where it happens and which instrument plays it gets put on the guest list (plus two) for a Brandt Brauer Frick show.
C as in Counterculture:
Counterculture can’t mean a culture that’s always more authentic or more “real” than established or mainstream culture. Culture is all about expressing ideas and emotions, and people can find many different contexts to do that—also within established “high culture”. We’re very into pop music and would avoid calling ourselves countercultural. However, with our ensemble, we’ve created something you’d normally only find in wellestablished, state-run institutions, like symphony halls or opera houses (at least in Europe). This year, we’ve really had to learn a lot of things the hard way.
D as in DJ-Kicks:
All in all, a great series. We’re on !K7, so we’re lucky to always be able to steal a new DJ-Kicks from their office when we swing by. Recently, we’ve been enjoying the Motor City Drum Ensemble, as well as the new Scuba release. Watch out for a Brandt Brauer Frick mix in a year or two . . . or three.
E as in Ego:
We have big ones—we love what we do.
F as in Form follows function:
We’re not the best musicians to ask about functional music. We love things that are unpredictable and go beyond mere functionality. We also believe that most people on the dance floor want drama and surprises, not just something that serves a predictable musical function—at least in the techno sense.
G as in Growing up:
. . . is probably the most fundamental part of life. If you actually feel like growing up when you get old, you’ll have more fun in life (partly taken from The Teachings of Buddha found in our hotel).
H as in Heroes:
Steve Reich, Iannis Xenakis, Theo Parrish, Matthew Herbert, Jeff Mills, Robert Hood, Herbie Hancock, John Coltrane, 4Hero . .
I as in ID:
We appreciate the idea of a world in which no identification papers are needed.
J as in John Cage:
No need to talk too much about Cage; everybody else does so enough already. But unlike to many twentieth century composers, he had a great sense of entertainment.
K as in Kling Klang:
Kraftwerk’s studio. Their pioneering use of electronic instruments is impressive. We have probably a tenth of the equipment they have, but we don’t feel like there’s anything missing from our collection. Musically
it seems like we pretty much do the exact opposite of Kraftwerk: we make electronic music that’s warm and dirty instead of cold and clean.
L as in Live electronics:
We only use basic electronics in our live set as a trio: a Nord Wave keyboard, Roland V-Drums and a Korg ESX-1. We don’t know much about live electronics—it’s much easier for us to explore mic’d acoustic instruments.
M as in Mr. Machine:
We found his bones in our garden. It appears that he was some sort of pre-industrial robot. Our experts are still not sure whether he was originally a man or a machine.
N as in New world order:
Who are we to know what the future holds? We only want a world with great music.
O as in Open source:
When it comes to the basics, we consider music history to be open source. New music is never about inventing something from nothing, but rather about composing it from certain preexisting elements. Playing a chord on a piano is not essentially different than sampling; it’s all been brought to you culturally and historically. Nobody should consider their music their own “property”—and that’s the great thing about music.
P as in Pornography:
A guy and a girl are having sex. Suddenly, the guy freezes while they’re doing it doggy. The girl’s like, “What’s up? Keep going, I need more!” He responds: “This is a new technique I found online—it’s called ‘buffering’!”
Q as in Quo vadis, classical music?:
Obviously, some amazing classical music will be around for a long time and remain relevant. Unfortunately, very few people are aware of the music that’s written for classical instruments these days. Most of it is trapped in academia or stuffy old institutions, so it’s hard not to be pessimistic about its future. There are only a few composers living today that still inspire us.
R as in Remixes:
Technically speaking, we tend to “reinterpret” instead of remix because we use little or nothing of a track’s original samples. It’s a cool process, because sometimes confronting foreign musical ideas lead us to things we otherwise would never have explored. Often it shows us where our own music could go in the future.
S as in Supernatural:
We usually experience the supernatural onstage. Not like ghosts and spirits, but rather like a single unifying feeling that brings together the whole room and everybody in it. One of the best moments of being onstage is when our entire ensemble feels like one big machine.
T as in Terror:
If you really want to freak out, listen to Rotterdam Terror Corps! Certainly better than real terror, but still hard to take.
U as in Underwear:
We wear it. Right now things aren’t easy because we’re on tour in the U.S., playing up to ten gigs in a row, and flying almost every day. We need fast laundry service . . . but it doesn’t always work out.
V as in The Velvet Underground:
The Velvet Underground was an amazing band and show that you don‘t need much technique when you have something to express. Rock and roll! Heroin!
W as in Wimps
. . . should leave us alone.
X as in Xylophones:
We especially love the xylophone’s big brother, the marimba, although its character is so strong that we can’t use it for every piece. Also, it takes up a lot of space. But when used correctly, it’s magic. We probably have one of the best marimba players in the world in our ensemble, the fantastic Mr. Matthias Engler.
Y as in Yawn:
We yawn when we’re asked whether we make a fusion of techno and classical music. Who cares?
Z as in Zen:
Watch out for our upcoming Ninja Tune release, catalogue number beginning with ZEN . . . It’s a remix we did for Amon Tobin. ~
Photo: Jan Brauer, Paul Frick, and Daniel Brandt, photographed by Hans Martin Sewcz in Berlin.
Published November 23, 2012.