[microsound-announce] ROTHKAMM - ALT

Yoko Karu yoko.karu at baskaru.com
Fri Nov 20 17:52:50 EST 2009

He cultivates enigmas. He leaves no one cold. He could be the next genius 
the right-thinking avant-garde will be late to discover. He is Rothkamm, but 
his friends call him Frank Rothkamm.

This composer, philosopher, and conceptual artist can turn music (electronic 
and otherwise) into thought territory, an abstract playground, or even a 
smoke screen. In fact, Rothkamm is a magician, a prestidigitation 
theoretician, and a carny all in one.

The oeuvre he is building one CD at a time seems to be designed to sidetrack 
listeners (and better push them onward), deconstruct accepted ideas (and 
better reinvent them), and elevate contradiction to the rank of art form (so 
as to better critique it). After all, this is the man behind an electronic 
trilogy that introduced a new and serious music theory peppered with kitsch 
elements (the FB series), a record of microtonal pieces for parlor organ 
(one piece bearing the exquisite title "Kris Kristofferson of the 
Avant-Garde"), a set of piano variations on the first ten notes from the 
"Spongebob Squarepants" theme song (Opus Spongebobicum), and a digital 
cantata masquerading as dance music.

So what about ALT? Don't be surprised to be surprised: this particular album 
features quite accessible ambient electronic music. This work is less 
microtonal than Rothkamm's previous similar pieces, more immersive, but just 
as fascinating. Its simple - or even harmless - appearance imbues the 
approach issue with extra urgency. Rothkamm: "On ALT I have set up iterative 
procedures on physical machines (as opposed to a linear process in 
software). Once the process is in motion, no or minimal intervention takes 
place. Each piece on ALT has the same premise: to create an infinity 
machine, a deus ex machina, to experience an infinite process in a finite 
amount of time."

On its own, this Rothkamm CD can be appreciated openly, and fans of Scanner 
and Biosphere will take a shine to it. Taken in the context of the artist's 
oeuvre, it embodies yet another enigma (amplified by the symbolic and 
numerological games found in the track titles and durations). For that, ALT 
makes an excellent introduction to the Rothkammian mystery.

ALT is out now on Baskaru.


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