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Ralph Steinbrüchel

Ralph Steinbrüchel- Tell about your first musical steps and what led you to minimalism?

Actually I wouldn't necessarily describe my music or aesthetic as "minimalism". I am interested in detail and precision and am fascinated by small movements and slow changes (which you could maybe describe with the word "minimalism"). For me the word minimalism always in itself carries some negative aspect, as it also describes an approach of doing as little as needed to create or do something.

I have been interested in music already at a very young age. For hours I have been listening to the radio during the evening while staring at the blinking lights of the equalizer in the stereo. When I was around the age of ten I started to actually buy records (at that time mostly vinyl) and tapes and was always searching for new music and interesting bands. In my search for I have gone through several phases (new wave, industrial, heavy metal, alternative, electronic) and I believe that each of the musical phase has left a small trace or particle in the music I am creating.

- There are several collaboration works in your discography. How do you work together ­ alive or through the Internet? Say some words about the process of creation of the album Status recorded together with Frank Bretschneider.

Collaborations are always different depending on the artist(s) involved. With Günter Müller I have recorded a series of improvised performances as a duo and then each of us reworked each live recording into separate tracks. In this case the collaborational aspect took place during the improvised performances and in the studio each of us worked alone. Also none of us heard each others tracks until the CD was sequenced and the individual tracks where completed.

With Frank Bretschneider it was completely different as we have sent each other back and forth folders over the internet which we both slowly filled with sounds and then each of us started to generate sequences from these and sent those back and forth until each piece reached it's final step. In this case it was always really interesting to see what the other artist would make out of the material and what direction the composition would take.

In the moment I am working on a series of sounds processed from source recordings of Jason Kahn and Günter Müller. They both have recorded some elements for me (percussion, feedback, etc.) which I now process into several folders of sounds which I will be using in two live collaborations in December. One with Jason Kahn in Zurich and the other with Günter Müller in Berne.

- Is the material for your works resynthesis (or other processing types) of more rich sounds? Tell us about the means you use for creating your music, if it's not a secret.

Mostly my sounds are based on field recordings, but as they are heavily processed it doesn't really matter too much what the source sound actually is. Over the last few years I've started to use mainly recordings of acoustical instruments as a basis for my compositions (thus the title "Basis" of my last release on Room40). Often I get some small particles of recordings from friends or fellow artists and process my sounds from this source. At the moment I am very interested in creating a sound which is on the border of being organic and synthetic sounding at the same time.

When using a recordings of an instrument (or field recording) as a source there are always some characteristics and shapes of the original sound in the processed sound which give the single sounds some emotional element. There was a phase where I was interested in working with purely synthetic generated material, but it felt to cold and "soulless" for me. I missed the emotional aspect of the sounds in the compositions.

- Can you single out one of your albums which you like most of all at the moment?

Actually I really can not as all of my releases (and compositions) are part of me and are necessary parts in my continuing journey of exploring and creating music. But I can recommend the CD "Basis" on Room40 (based on recordings of acoustical instruments) and the new CD EP "Mit Ohne" on 12k (more sparse and electronic sounding) as two very different examples of my work.

- Say some words about label Synchron's creation, can we expect its rebirth?

Synchron started releasing smaller scale "music + art" projects in special packaging and limited editions. The aim was (and still is) to only release 7" vinyl singles and mini CD's (or mini CD-R's or mini CD-ROM's or similar). At one point (mostly because of lack of time but also a bit of money) I had to decide if I want to focus more on composing music myself or taking care of the label and releasing music.

I still would very much like to keep releasing my own and also the music of other artists, but unfortunately I lack the time and money and energy to keep Synchron alive. Through the circumstances that I am full time employed as graphic designer, having a son and also composing music I am not able to also take care of a label. Just would need much more time...

- What do you think, which effect does you music provide for the listeners? Maybe you have certain strategies to influence your audience?
Sometimes, deepening into your music, I feel like being able to go through the walls...


Actually I do not have any specific intentions what listeners should do with the music (or what the music should do with them). Mostly I am composing the music which I feel and enjoy and also enjoy making and enjoy listening to. My music is for me very personnel and based on my moods and feelings and influenced by small incidents in everyday live.

After I have finished a composition and it has been released it starts a life on it's own which I can not and also do not want to control. Of course I am always very happy to receive feedback and hear comments.

- As far as I know, you live in Zurich now. What about experimental music in this city? Any new musicians and interesting concerts, performances?

Since a few years I am organizing a series of small concerts and performances entitled "segment| e" at a local art gallery space. Next to that there is really no other regular performance space for experimental and electronic music.

There are a few other artists and small labels which do really good and important work. For instance Jason Kahn (and his label Cut), Bernd Schurer and Marcus Maeder from the label Domizil, Stephan Wittwer or also the Spezialmaterial crew (a label and collective of different artists).

Beginning of December I will perform collaboration with Jason Kahn at a small space here in Zurich. So some of us work together inbetween, but next to that we all follow our own paths and support each other whenever possible.

- Do you listen much music except the music you create? 2008 is almost over, which releases of this year you could point out?

I listen very much to music from other artists. One of the main reasons and inspiration for also creating music on my own. Here's some of my favorites of 2008:
  • Stephan Mathieu - Radioland (Die Schachtel)
  • Spartak - Tales From The Colony Room (Hellosquare Recordings)
  • Tangtype - Flake (Humpty Dumpty)
  • Soccer Committee + Machinefabriek - Drawn (Digitalis)
  • Machinefabriek - Ranonkel (Burning World)
  • Ueno - Sui-gin (Room40)
  • Tsukimono - Time Canvas (Kning Disk)
  • Erik Enocksson - Farval Falkenberg (Kning Disk)
  • Earth - The Bees Made Honey In The Lions Skull (Southern Lord)
  • Wolfgang Voigt - GAS (raster-noton), only the music and not the book
  • Ø - Oleva (Sähkö)
  • Mikkel Metal - Peaks and Troughs (Echocord)
Not all from 2008, but stuff I've really liked and listened often... And of course I'm sure that I've forgotten some others.

- Please, mention the most valuable, outstanding works, which influenced you in some way.

I don't believe that I can answer this question by mentioning just one work or artist. In music it would probably be the work of 12k, raster-noton and Kning Disk; in art Olafur Eliasson, Peter Piller and Yves Netzhammer; in graphic design the designer Republics, Kim Hiorthoy and Norm; in photography Walter Niedermayr, Taryn Simon and Tobias Madorin.

- Which topics can you discuss for long, what interests you besides music?

Well, it depends what the interest(s) of the other person(s) is. With many of my friends I discuss lots about taking care of a child (as I have a son). Topic wise I'm also very interested in graphic design (my occupation) and art.

- Characterize Ralph Steinbrüchel 's music with the help of only two words.

Synthetic nature

- Synchron

december '08





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