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ROTHKAMM - ALT

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The Sound Projector (UK) - December 2010
Text by Ed Pinsent
http://www.thesoundprojector.com/

The Sound Projector, December 2010


Black (DE) - November 2010
Text by M.Fiebag
http://www.blackmagazin.com/?p=5170

Was kann einen erwarten, wenn man eine CD einlegt, deren Cover eine stilisierte Grafik des berühmten Bildes „Das Eismeer“ von Casper David Friedrich ziert? Klassik oder Gothic-Rock kommen da in Frage, jedoch experimentelle Ambient-Musik wohl am wenigsten, aber genau das bietet uns das Album „Alt“ des deutschen Electronic-Komponisten Frank Rothkamm, der inzwischen in Amerika lebt und schon für George Lukas gearbeitet hat. Sehr reduzierte Soundschleifen, welche mittels „antiker“ Analog-Computer generiert werden, dominieren die rund 39 Minuten des Albums und vermitteln dabei passend zum Cover-Artwork eine kühle bis eisige Atmosphäre. Selbst bei den Tracknamen waltet der Minimalismus gnadenlos, denn wie schon der Albumtitel bestehen diese alle nur aus 3 Buchstaben. Aufgelockert werden die monoton pulsierenden Rhythmus-Muster dann bei „GUI“ von einem Gitarrenloop und auf „OOO“ gibt es ein „himmlisches“ Vocal-Sample. Die insgesamt 10 Tracks sind in ihrer Laufzeit ebenfalls recht kurz gehalten und unterstreichen somit den experimentellen Ansatz von ROTHKAMM. So richtig in Fahrt kommt das Album wirklich erst nach mehrmaligem Hören und man sollte schon etwas Geduld für ROTHKAMM aufbringen, was sich am Ende aber auszahlen wird. Freunde der modernen Electronic-Avantgarde kommen bei „Alt“ ebenso auf ihre Kosten, wie auch Fans von zum Beispiel BIOSPHERE oder PAN SONIC. Eine interessante Veröffentlichung des französischen Baskaru-Labels, welches immer wieder für eine Überraschung und Entdeckung gut ist.


Gaz-Eta (PL) - July 2010
Text by Tom Sekowski
http://www.vivo.pl/gaz-eta/recenzje/gazeta.php?nr=80&id=s_10

German based composer and conceptual artist Frank Rothkamm returns with his latest release "ALT 1989-2009". I am assuming this is a compilation of some of his work realized during the last two decades that he processed on analog computers and algorithms. The man better known for providing rhythm synthesis for people like Elliott Sharp, Alfred 23 Harth, Wolfgang Muthspiel, DJ Spooky, Hardkiss Bros, supplied music for commercials, remixes for Zeena Parkins, Rebekka Bakken, the Cranberries is also busy on a number of conceptual projects. Amongst those are a 3CD + 1 DVD set called "Tetralogy". All of these ideas keep Rothkamm extremely busy but what is crucial on the latest effort is his music. The music he presents on this release is as bare as it gets. Full of delicate shifts of grumbling bass-like loops, through to rumblings of something that could be mistaken for an organ, all the way through to sampled choral sections. Sounds are never oversaturated, nor do they attack the listener all at once. Rather, Rothkamm keeps a steady pulse on the proceedings to ensure minimal development occurs within the realm of an individual piece. "ALT 1989-2009" turns out to be a fantastic effort, brimming with novel ideas and musical dexterity to spare.


Gonzo Circus (BE) - May 2010
Mind The Gap #84
http://www.gonzocircus.com

Gonzo Circus, May 2010


Brain Dead Eternity (IT) - April 2010
Text by Massimo Ricci
http://braindeadeternity.blogspot.com/2010/04/frank-rothkamm-alt.html

Two synonyms associated to Rothkamm's name considered as an adjective – frank – are “open” and “transparent”; that’s exactly what the tracks shaping this record feel like. Thanks to a set of algorithms and computers put in motion without secondary human intervention, we benefit from a valuable therapy consisting of uncomplicated – minimal, you may say - electronic designs that, at the same time, are austerely efficient and, in a couple of examples, plainly stunning.

“Gui” utilizes a modified sliding guitar sample as a hooking “theme” in such a tantalizing fashion that Wim Wenders might wish to grab it for the second edition of Paris, Texas; “OOO” makes us wonder instead if a reiteration of overlaid choir scraps is indeed the sound that will be heard after our vanishing. Perhaps the main aspect to be chewed over is the music's overall tendency to reveal facets that are both positively “present-day” and hinting to the past. More than “ambient”, in fact, one tends to think about certain episodes as some sort of slowed-down development of constructions grown from selected branches of the German cosmic era. The impeccable linearity and the untainted geometry of these structures are definitely relatable to that area of exploration.

This notwithstanding, a clear reference to the typically uncompromising traits of Rothkamm's work is also detectable. Creativity that doesn't need excess to affirm its value, only the sureness and the deep conviction that an idea, or even a single fragment, is sufficient for the instigation of an important artistic signal if that lone element is given the proper light and angles. There lie the rewarding aspects of Alt, sounds that enhance the positive features perceived by the mind during a listening session, stimulating a dynamic response that goes well beyond the mere “I appreciate it/I don't” feedback.


EtherReal (FR) - April 2010
Text by Fabrice Allard
http://www.etherreal.com/spip.php?article3574

De Frank Rothkamm nous ne connaissions que quelques pièces très expérimentales, au point de nous décourager d'aller beaucoup plus loin. Aussi c'est avec surprise que l'on accueillait cet album chez Baskaru qui se révèle être un objet à part dans la discographie de l'Allemand exilé à Los Angeles, à prendre comme une compilation de pièces ambient.

Effectivement, la surprise est de taille à l'écoute des premières sonorités de cet album. On retrouve le style épuré, extrêmement synthétique de Rothkamm qui travaille sur synthés analogiques, mais sans l'abstraction généralement de mise dans les pièces composées par des algorithmes mathématiques. Au contraire, les basses régulières, rondes et rebondies, tournoyantes et épurées de AAA font preuve d'un minimalisme hypnotisant tandis que les boucles synthétiques de GUI qui se dévoilent petit à petit pour se révéler être des guitares au parfum 70s touchent au sublime.

En dix morceaux, Rothkamm explore le pouvoir évocateur des machines, avec un son toujours trés synthétique et des constructions dont l'épure n'a d'égal que ses sonorités, allant des hésitations scintillantes de RED aux bâillements électroniques de MID. Rothkamm parvient ici a composer une musique rigoureuse sans pour autant oublier de lui donner une âme, comme ces titres de morceaux et d'album, tous écrits en majuscules, de trois lettres, apparemment cryptiques mais pourtant très illustratifs quand un interlude à base de graves ronronnements s'intitule LOW, qu'une pièce dont les notes semblent être jouées de façon aléatoire s'appelle RND (fonction Random), ou qu'une autre largement basée sur des vocalises a pour titre OOO.

Si l'album se révèle être superbe, on pourra regretter la longueur du dernier morceau qui semble se prolonger plus que de raison, extrêmement répétitif et manquant de relief. Cela dit, ALT est un album qui fait montre d'un véritable amour du son, une véritable démonstration par l'exemple et non démonstrative de ce qu'il peut avoir de magique.

Frank Rothkamm travaille actuellement sur un autre projet intitulé TETRALOGY composé de 3 CD et 1 DVD, sur lequel nous allons finalement peut-être nous attarder...


Terz (DE) - April 2010
Text by Honker
http://www.terz.org/texte/texte_1004/honker.html

Sowohl ein Release auf Baskaru als auch ein Album von Frank Rothkamm sind in der Regel hoch beachtenswerte Ereignisse. Der in Gütersloh geborene und mittlerweile in LA lebende und arbeitende Komponist, Klangkünstler und -philosoph könnte durch seine enigmatische, bisweilen solipsistische und emotional-präzise Arbeitsweise ein wenig der aufgeklärte Caspar David Friedrich der avancierten Elektronik genannt werden, wenn derartige klischeeartige Zuschreibungen nicht Gefahr liefen, das Hören seines faszinierenden Audios von vornherein zu verbauen. Das "Eismeer" - Cover auf dem Album verweist indes in einen Rezeptionskontext, in dem sich magisch-mathematische Mysterien und die gescheiterten Hoffnungen sinnfällig ineinander verweben. Von Mikrotonalität zu offenen Schichtungen - grandios.


Musicareaction (FR) - March 2010
Text by Maxence
http://www.musicareaction.com/expressions-musicales-contemporaines/
musique-contemporaine-vs-musiques-actuelles/franck-rothkamm-oscillations/


Symphonies minimales et vibratoires pour calculateurs analogiques, la musique de Frank Rothkamm ne laisse pas indifférente. En l'occurrence, ALT, le nouvel album du compositeur américano-allemand (également philosophe et artiste conceptuel) est une vraie merveille. A la fois raffinée et confondante de (fausse) simplicité, elle est une constante réinvention.

Bâtie sur des algorithmes aussi élégants que complexes, ALT, s'inscrit paradoxalement dans une démarche volontairement accessible, évoquant l'ambient électronique limpide des pionniers de ce que l'on nomme le courant electronica, tels que Biosphere ou Scanner, quand ce n'est pas plus avant, les expérimentations ludiques des Allemands de Cluster (Moebius et Rodelius). A son écoute, on pense en effet particulièrement à Zuckerzeit, un disque composé de deux mini-albums du duo en 1974. Car c'est surtout dans l'approche du processus physique de la création de sons électroniques (poussés, pressions, verticalité, horizontalité) - particularité que Rothkam partage ici avec ses ainés germaniques - que cet ALT si émouvant, paru chez les français Baskaru, se rapproche des recherches de ces deux grands anciens.

A l'image des phénomènes purement physiques que sont l'électricité, la mécanique et l'hydraulique mis en oeuvre par ces calculateurs pour modéliser un problème à résoudre, Frank Rothkamm s'appuie sur les caractéristiques physiques du son pour composer ses dix pièces tour à tour mélodiques et fracturées. Résultat ? Un album hors du temps, qui traversera certainement les âges, pour s'inscrire dans le paysage électronique classique (de ceux qu'on étudiera dans les conservatoires), tout en restant exceptionnel et innovant.


The Milk Factory (UK) - March 2010
Text by themilkman
http://www.themilkfactory.co.uk/st/2010/03/rothkamm-alt-baskaru/

Despite a body of work that spans over twenty solo releases, spread over twenty five years, German-born musician and conceptual artist Frank Rothkamm has remained a fairly enigmatic figure for most. Beside his own music, Rothkamm, who currently lives in Los Angeles, has provided music and sound design for big international corporations (Levi Strauss, Philips, Hewlett-Packard, Ford, Warner Bros…), and has worked with a wide range of artists, including the likes of Lesa Carlson, Wolfgang Muthspiel or DJ Spooky.

Released on the excellent Baskaru, ALT sequences ten fairly minimal pieces, all named using seemingly random collections of three letters, some ordered in familiar patterns (SUN, RED, LOW, CON, GUI) others in more mysterious strings (AAA, RND, OOO, DEC). The music appears to focus on the introspective experimentations of granular electronic sounds and tones, often taking the appearance of slow evolutive drones and textures, which are not without evoking some of Tangerine Dream’s early experiments. While the sonic aspect of the record is relatively varied, Rothkamm works from a very limited palette on each track, making the most of the malleable nature of analogue electronics. The result varies from deeply reflective pieces, concentrated toward the middle of the album it appears (SUN, LOW, MID, RND) to more expressive constructions, whether they are purely sound-based (AAA, DEC) or support fragments of melody (GUI, RED, CON), while on OOO, Rothkamm processes an artificial choral loop which has for a moment this album slip into a particularly ethereal and haunting mood.

ALT is in many ways as enigmatic as its creator, its soundscapes remaining for the most part sparse and entirely artificial, with no clear clues to their provenance. It is as if Rothkamm was concerned with the very essence of each sound used here, and that they should work as stand-alone components, . This micro-level approach is fascinating throughout, but it takes a singular dimension in the central cluster of meditative tracks. While they are perfectly delineated, Rothkamm has placed them specifically to create the illusion that these four pieces continuously morph into one another, the range progressively dropping from somewhere toward the higher end of the spectrum on SUN down to much lower frequencies on RND.

Elsewhere, the magnified pulses that ripple through AAA or DEC, although very different, add an element of grit to the record. On the former, the pulses remain fairly constant throughout, only becoming more potent as the track progresses, while on the latter, the bright motif which echoes through the beginning of the piece soon clouds over and eventually disappear into the lower end. With GUI and RED, Rothkamm opens his sound pool more, even adding a brush of guitar to his electronics on the former, but it is with the synthetic choir of OOO that the album reaches its emotional peak, the piece a stark counterpoint to the earlier contemplative compositions.

With this album, Frank Rothkamm has created a particularly effective atmospheric experimental work which, while rooted in the early Kosmische scene by way of austere minimal soundscapes, is very relevant to contemporary electronic music. A particularly refined record, where less is definitely more, ALT is definitely not to be missed. (4.4/5)


Sentire Ascoltare (IT) - February 2010
Text by Vincenzo Santarcangelo
http://www.sentireascoltare.com/recensione/6638/Rothkamm-Alt.html

Sentire Ascoltare, February 2010


Leicester Bangs (UK) - February 2010
Text by Willsk
http://www.leicesterbangs.co.uk/feb10-3.html

As Rothkamm explains "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." Judged in the realm of Rothkamm (whose output has contained the likes of a record of microtonal pieces for parlor organ containing the notable title, "Kris Kristofferson of the Avant-Garde" and “Opus Spongebobicum” with its piano variants on the first ten notes from the "Spongebob Squarepants" theme tune) this is a relatively accessible ambient affair. This is the music of the Cathode Ray Oscilliscope soaked in binary code where endless reverberations, limitless loop associations and occasional samples provide a backdrop for meditative and transcendental thought. It can allow the listener the freedom to have it wash totally over them or for them to engage completely with its changing landscape. It has an affinity with the Eno tape experiments of the 70’s, where differing length tape loops are set running and then make their own music as they rarely realign/resynch again. He is true to form and as playful as ever in his track titling and durations; there is undoubtedly a puzzle in their correlation and one which undoubtedly absolute computer logic is needed to be applied to resolve.


RifRaf (BE) - February 2010
Text by ts
http://www.rifraf.be

RifRaf, February 2010


Solénoïde (FR) - February 2010
Text by Le Solénopole
http://www.solenopole.org/mission139.htm

Artiste conceptuel, touchant autant à l'écriture musicale qu'à la philosophie, Franck ROTHKAMM élabore des compositions superposant des nappes floues à des lignes mélodiques claires pour produire un impact des plus envoûtants. Sur ce disque l'auditeur se voit ainsi transporté dans un espace acoustique subtilement spatialisé, l'amenant à découvrir des champs de perception inédits. Un album aux textures onctueuses et à l'atmosphère paisible conçu pour captiver les adeptes d'hypnose musicale douce. Les fans de Scanner ou de Biosphere ne devraient pas bouder leur plaisir.


Blow Up (IT) - February 2010
Text by s.i.b.
http://www.blowupmagazine.com

Blow Up, February 2010


Rock-A-Rolla (UK) - February 2010
Text by Euan Andrews
http://rock-a-rolla.com

Rock-A-Rolla, February 2010


Liability (FR) - February 2010
Text by Fabien
http://www.liabilitywebzine.com/?ac=non&contenu=viewchr&id=3946

Ca ne s'explique pas toujours. Dans la musique ambient soit on tombe dans le pire des communs soit on assiste à quelque chose de majestueux, sorte de musique des dieux, intemporelle, semblant ouvrir des portes vers des mondes fantastiques et inconnus. C'est un peu ce genre de sentiment quand on écoute un morceau comme OOO qui figure sur ce Alt 1989-2009. Et c'est globalement ce que nous propose l'allemand Frank Rothkamm avec ce nouvel album. Un voyage aux confins de l'infini, vers des horizons brumeux et fantasmagoriques. Le minimalisme est bien de rigueur ici mais il occupe l'espace d'une manière telle que vous vous sentez immédiatement enveloppé par les esquisses sonores de Rothkamm. Véritable exploration mystique, Alt 1989-2009 n'est pas sans rappeler parfois l'épopée germanique des années 70 qui allait de Conrad Schnitzler à Roedelius, de Manuel Göttsching à Klaus Schulze. Par extension, on pensera aussi à ceux qui dans les années 80 et après ont gardé en tête cet esprit aventureux qui pousse vers une terra incognita aussi flamboyante que rassurante.

Pourtant, bien que magnifique, ce résultat n'est pas surprenant. Il faut dire que Frank Rothkamm n'en est pas à son premier coup d'essai. Depuis une petite quinzaine d'années maintenant, il sort régulièrement des disques sous le nom de Rothkamm, Frank Rothkamm ou Frank Genius, a collaborré avec Elliott Sharp, Peter Scherer ou Wolfgang Muthspiel. Il a donc eu maintes fois l'occasion de prouver qu'en la matière il est loin d'être un plaisantin et qu'il sait que le genre musical dans lequel il évolue ne se contruit pas dans l'à peu près et la généralité. Ainsi ce disque, comme beaucoup de ses disques d'ailleurs, possède-t-il une force évocatrice et spectrale qui dépasse l'entendement. L'ambient vue par Frank Rothkamm n'est donc pas ces longues phases de drones sans reliefs et sans âmes véritables. Lui, il conçoit sa musique comme une oeuvre ciselée, sortant des frontières du réel pour emprunter des chemins aussi accidentés que chatoyants. Passionant.


Stereo & Video (RU) - February 2010
Text by Sergey Oreshkin
http://www.stereo.ru

Stereo & Video, February 2010


Exclaim (CA) - January 2010
Text by Bryon Hayes
http://exclaim.ca/musicreviews/generalreview.aspx?csid1=137&csid2=847&fid1=43886

Germany-born and L.A.-based sound sculptor Frank Rothkamm is extremely prolific. Subscribing to the aesthetics of supermodernism and sci-fi serialism, Rothkamm's discography contains at least 20 releases. ALT contains ten relatively short pieces that were created between 1989 and 2009 by what Rothkamm says are analog computers and algorithms. Far from the frigid, clinical atmosphere shown on the cover art, the music is decidedly pleasant, its temperate ambient undulations and outer space melodies revealing many emotional states. Rothkamm's sparing use of samples, such as on "GUI" and "OOO," further enhances the organic feeling of the electronic tones. It's this brevity and simplicity that make ALT an enjoyable listen; Rothkamm chooses not to weigh his sound constructions down with excess, choosing to let them float freely. This is the true essence of ambient music.


His Voice (CZ) - January 2010
Text by Pavel Zelinka
http://www.hisvoice.cz

His Voice, January 2010


EARLabs (NL) - January 2010
Text by Niels Mark
http://www.earlabs.org/release/review.asp?reviewID=1487

Excellent new compilation from German sound art legend Rothkamm.

Frank Rothkamm is German composer who lives and works in Los Angeles. He is well-respected for his compositional skills first of all operating in spheres of abstract sound art. Present album is a compilation of "analog computers and algorithms" created over a span of 20 years from 1989-2009. Being a tough one to pigeonhole, the expression of the album range from abstract to semi-melodic moments. Thanks to the analogue approach there is a nice classic electronic sound of the album drawing associations towards early days of Kraftwerk, Brian Eno and Laurie Anderson. Despite the fact that the sound recalls aforementioned pioneering composers, the compositional approach of "ALT" is personal and timeless. On the accesible line you find tracks such as "GUI" containing a nice western guitar sample sounding like Ry Cooder on a space trip, the alluring choir-based piece titled "OOO" and the closing piece titled "CON". But even the accessible parts of the album hypnotizes. Thus the album is one of those that you keep returning to. The more you listen to it, the more it rewards. Alluring work of art!


Fear Drop (FR) - January 2010
Text by Denis Boyer
http://www.feardrop.net/chroniques.html#36_0

On a emprunté les détails d'un tableau célèbre de Caspar David Friedrich, La mer de glaces (L'épave du Hoffnung), pour construire la pochette du disque de Frank Rothkamm, et s'il faut trouver un lien entre deux oeuvres en apparence si étrangères l'une à l'autre, c'est bien dans la considération paysagère de l'événement. Pour l'un le tragique d'un bateau naufragé dans les glaces en tentant de franchir le fameux passage du nord-ouest, pour l'autre le jeu de reflet que cordes et cascades cristallines connaissent dans le filtre des synthétiseurs de Rothkamm. ALT balaie vingt années de compositions, et, de l'ouverture en pulsation d'écho en pleine obscurité aux déploiements d'harmoniques bouclés et d'ébauches mélodiques fracturées et cicatrisées dans le flux de l'épaisseur analogique, l'impression d'un panorama se confirme. Si La mer de glaces est sans doute le plus anguleux des tableaux de Friedrich, montrant bien plus les échardes de banquise que le pauvre navire aux trois quarts enfoui, la musique de Rothkamm s'y accorde ; d'un autre milieu réputé stérile, hostile, il magnifie l'écoute : c'est la musique de l'espace, les ondulations cristallines et vrombissantes de l'angoisse d'une dérive, des pérégrinations sans retour dans la proximité du zéro absolu. Les vagues aux accents de theremin y chantent un gel, dépourvu de glaces mais tout aussi fatal. Les mécaniques jeux de doigts sur les touches évoquent un tableau de bord lumineux aux lumières bavardes, carrées. Les vagues d'harmoniques ondulants enrubannés de chants élégiaques participent à cette vision d'aurore sublime. C'est bien le mot qui finit par s'imposer, dès que l'on accueille ce froid et ce minimalisme comme une image du dernier chemin, à parcourir comme une aventure romantique dans l'invivable.


All About Jazz / Italia (IT) - January 2010
Text by Francesca Odilia Bellino
http://italia.allaboutjazz.com/php/article.php?id=4793

Frank Rothkamm non è un tipo la cui musica è quel che si dice facile o ascoltabile. Emblema della sua follia da collage elettronico, in veste minimal, è ALT, dell'etichetta francese Baskaru, dieci tracce di ambient electronic music che presentano lavori di Rothkamm and friends (sostanzialmente Jeffrey Fredrickson e Frank Genius) scritti tra il 1989 e il 2009 per/con computers analogici e algoritmi.

Come ben sanno gli ascoltatori del genere anche nelle più oscure, fredde e fitte trame elettroniche c'è sempre un po' poesia. Così con lo svolgersi di queste tracce d'ascolto minimal, ma comunque dense, all'apparenza non diverse da tanta buona computer music, si disvela la geografia sonora di un vero e proprio nuovo mondo (sonoro). Complice ne è una jewel box privo di ogni tipo di indicazione [neanche dei titoli dei brani... anche se il sito dell'etichetta pone rimedio a questa mancana], che presenta delle foto-collage futuristiche e immaginifiche che ci consento di delineare quel che più ci piace di quanto ascoltiamo: immaginiamo e facciamo veri e propri ascolti lunari o plutonici che in una terza traccia di grande poesia sembrano persino musiche da carillon. Quasi geniale... se non fossero algoritmi partoriti da un computer!

Per l'occasione non posso resistere alla tentazione di segnalare anche il bel progetto realizzato di recente da Rothkamm su Frank Zappa, un capolavoro di collage elettronico!


Skug (AT) - January 2010
Text by Heinrich Deisl
http://www.skug.at/index.php?Art_ID=4816

Der deutsch-amerikanische Soundkünstler Frank Rothkamm unternimmt auf "ALT" eine Reise in minimalistische Drones aus analogen und digitalen Maschinen. Auf dem CD-Cover ist ein Ausschnitt aus C. D. Friedrichs "Das Eismeer" abgebildet. Dieser harsche Eindruck führt nur bedingt auf die die richtige Spur: Rothkamm, umtriebiger Musiker für Hollywood-Soundtracks mit Faible fürs Theoretisch-Groteske ("Opus Spongebobicum"), kollaborierte mir Alfred 23 Harth, Wolfgang Muthspiel und Elliot Sharp und entwirft hier fliessende Klanglandschaften, die den Körper in einen Schwebezustand versetzen. "ALT" bringt recht zugängliche Ambienttexturen, die sich im Prinzip endlos dahinspinnen könnten. Musik, die beim Lesen eines Buchs genauso spannend ist wie beim aufmerksamen Zuhören. Zwangsläufig Neues tut sich hier nicht auf, dafür ist "ALT" von überzeugender handwerklicher Qualität.


Echoes Online (DE) - January 2010
Text by Steffen Greiner
http://echoes-online.de/blog/index.php?/archives/775-Rothkamm-ALT.html

Boris Groys: "Das avantgardistische Kunstwerk ist eben dasjenige, das seine eigene ästhetische, historische, politische und sonstige Kontextualisierung explizit in sich selbst reflektiert. Wenn man von einem avantgardistischen Kunstwerk den Kommentar abzieht, dann bleibt eben ein sehr traditionelles Kunstwerk übrig. Das avantgardistische Kunstwerk ist in der Tat kommentarbedürftig, aber nicht um ein Kunstwerk, sondern um avantgardistisch zu sein. Der Kommentar ist [diesen Kunstwerken] also nicht äusserlich, sondern ein integraler Teil dessen, was aus ihnen interessante, moderne, avantgardistische Kunstwerke macht" - Frank Rothkamm ist sicherlich ein Künstler, der mehr (aber nicht aussschliesslich) über die Idee funktioniert als über ästhetische Rezeption, der Theorie kreativ werden lässt.

Werke wie die Variationen über die ersten zehn Töne der Spongebob-Schwammkopf-Titelmelodie (Opus Spongebobicum, 2008) oder sein Manifest der Supermoderne ("The plan for the pure and applied electronic music of supermodernism calls for the randomization of man and machine, so that the boundary between them won't be told with certainty and the randomization of music and time, so that no absolute placement in linear historical terms can be made"), das zeugt von Ironie und Ernsthaftigkeit, Bewusstsein und Spontaneität, Kunst und Künstlichkeit, Radikalität und Pop, von Möglichkeiten, realen Möglichkeiten; das ist schon als Konzept wichtig und soll gar nicht weiter paraphrasiert und folglich verharmlost werden, das muss man nichtmal hören, es reicht, dass es das gibt.

Die Verfahrensweise bei ALT, dem Album, um das es hier nun geht, wird von Rothkamm, und damit soll der Zitatmarathon zu Ende gebracht sein, beschrieben als "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". Davon zeugt schon die Tracklist, die mit AAA beginnt und mit CON endet - Soundschleifen, die gleichzeitig Ideen sind, die gleichzeitig etwas ganz anderes sind, Schwarze Löcher, in denen Raum und Zeit aufgehoben sind, ein Mehralssound, ein reflektierend kreisendes Paradox; am tollsten aber: Es ist nicht nur Abstraktion, sondern auch trivialer Genuss. ALT ist nämlich, bei allem theoretischen Background der Musik und des Künstlers, ein überaus klangreiches, harmonisches, spannendes Ambient-Elektronik-Album geworden.

(Zitat Boris Groys: Der Pop-Geschmack; in: Grasskamp u.a. (Hrsg.): Was ist Pop. 10 Versuche, Frankfurt/M. 2004, S.101)


Bad Alchemy (DE) - December 2009
Text by ???
http://www.badalchemy.de

Bad Alchemy, December 2009


Spinner (ES) - December 2009
Text by Zigor Cavero
http://es.spinner.com/2009/12/26/alt-1989-2009-rothkamm/

Frank Rothkamm es un compositor, filósofo y artista conceptual (sea lo que sea eso) alemán radicado en California. Su último trabajo lleva por título 'ALT 1989-2009' y su objetivo declarado es el de lograr "una máquina infinita, una deus ex machina, para poder experimentar un proceso infinito durante un periodo de tiempo finito". Y lo publica un sello francés, Baskaru, dedicado a lo experimental y que apenas publica un puñado de discos (cuidadosamente seleccionados) a lo largo del año.

Elementos estos suficientes como para provocar rechazo inmediato en todo aquel que asuma esto de la música como una actividad exclusivamente lúdica, libre de anclajes conceptuales y pesos intelectuales que la impidan volar libre. Pero no se crean: en el fondo, y pese a su apariencia adusta y resabida, 'ALT 1989-2009' no deja de ser un disco de ambient que recoge piezas compuestas por Rothkamm a lo largo de las dos últimas décadas.

Canciones que casi nunca superan los cinco minutos sometidas todas ellas a un mismo proceso de producción: Rothkamm estableció una serie de parámetros para sus instrumentos y dejó que el sonido evolucionara por su cuenta a partir de los mismos, sin injerencias (salvo las mínimas imprescindibles) por su parte. El resultado son diez variaciones distintas, las diez canciones que componen el disco, de un mismo tema que tienen como referencia a Brian Eno, Pete Namlook o Biosphere.

Es decir, música abstracta y numerada con la que ponerle banda sonora a vectores y escalares, ejes dimensionales y matrices espaciales; en un plano abstracto como en el que estamos, a toda esa parafernalia matemática espacio-temporal que ni se ve ni se toca, pero bien la podemos dibujar con nuestra imaginación mediante diagonales en plantillas cuadriculadas. Este es el ambiente sonoro de un universo geométrico de líneas perfectamente definidas que echa mano de resonancias analógicas, tenues drones, paisajes digitales, elementos acústicos que en realidad no lo son y samplers dispuestos en forma de loops.

Lo de 'ALT 1989-2009' puede dar así la impresión de ser uno de esos discos de electrónica pura tan fríos como desapegados de cualquier pasión humana o animal. Y algo de ello hay: uno se imagina escuchando estas canciones perdido en la superficie de la Antártida con la sola compañía de Werner Herzog. Sin embargo, pese a lo árido y distante que pueda resultar en un principio, no deja de ser este un disco cuyo componente armónico se sitúa por encima de cualquier otra consideración (escuchen canciones como 'GUI' o 'OOO'), que no levanta nunca la voz y además trasmisor de una paz interior teñida de blanco.

Lo cual, créanme, facilita mucho las cosas.


Electronique.It (IT) - December 2009
Text by Liquid
http://www.electronique.it/reviewA1076C1_Ultra-Violent_Rothkamm_ALT

Ottimo come sempre il lavoro di selezione della Baskaru, etichetta indipendente francese che ci ha regalato in passato gli ottimi album di Urkuma ed (Etre), qui, ora, con questo nuovo lavoro firmato Frank Rothkamm, artista tedesco con un forte passato da manipolatore di suoni.
Rothkamm immagina per questo nuovo lavoro un ambiente asettico e multiforme, un luogo da popolare con le sue frequenze, una di quelle architetture anni '70 fatte di spigolosi quanto minimali rimandi futuristici ma allo stesso tempo di calde atmosfere create attraverso graziose forme d'arredo.

La sua musica scivola densa appropriandosi dello spazio, un fluire uniforme e cadenzato, interrotto solo per brevi istanti da elettrici sussulti che sembrano quasi scosse d'assestamento.
L'unione del suono della chitarra alle modulazioni dei synth crea struggenti sensazioni che tendono a mantenersi tese e vive per tutta la durata del lavoro.
Rothkamm stravolge le note in un processo di modulazione lento ed ipnotico, creando atmosfere mutanti e molto persistenti, giocando con materia di forte impatto rispetto alle scelte più eteree di altri suoi illustri colleghi.

Possiamo dire che la sua è musica d'ambiente che sembra pervasa da un'oscura forza che cerca di emergere, come se gli spazi del complesso architettonico preso prima come esempio non riuscissero a contenere la sua espansione, quel magma incandescente che sembra aumentare la propria temperatura con costante precisione, un' ascesa che culmina in un brano caratterizzato da angelici campioni vocali che si aprono spiragli nelle fitte nebbie, consegnandoci un rassicurante e matematico finale di quasi dieci minuti nel quale l'artista lascia scivolare due note d'organo che ci restituiscono un battito cardiaco finalmente, di nuovo regolare. (4/5)


Le Son Du Grisli (FR) - December 2009
Text by Fabrice Vanoverberg
http://grisli.canalblog.com/archives/2009/12/03/16007488.html

Homme aux multiples fonctions (compositeur, philosophe, artiste conceptuel), l'Allemand Frank Rothkamm aka Rothkamm explore les routes tranchées de l'abstraction électronica sur son nouvel opus. Hébergé sur l'officine française Baskaru, maître de cérémonie d'un des plus grands disques du genre en cette année qui s'achève (HB de Francisco López & Lawrence English), ALT 1989-2009 invite à une originale plongée dans les froideurs épaisses du nord, dans des atmosphères aux coloris toutefois plus changeants qu'il n'y paraît de prime abord.

Tout démarre sur une vibration lourde et inquiétante (AAA), évocation univoque et moderniste d'Ursula Bogner, en plus abouti et maîtrisé. Merveilleusement déclinés en des thèmes variés et précis, les instants suivants s'intercalent dans les ruptures de genres. Echos américana d'un Square On Both Sides échappé sur Expanding Records, déviance galactique où Syd Barrett enverrait sombrer Nocturnal Emissions – quand ce n'est Tuxedomoon période The Ghost Sonata explorant quelques-uns des Twenty Systems de Benge – la floraison s'inquiète des tournures de gris, étonnamment belles et fébriles. Encore plus souvent, c'est le souvenir arctique du géant Biosphere qui prédomine, tel le poids insoupçonné d'un glacier matamoréen surgissant du fonds de l'obscurité pour nous menacer de sa fonte prochaine. N'oubliez pas d'enfiler votre polar avant le grand départ vers l'horizon.


De:Bug (DE) - December 2009
Text by Multipara
http://de-bug.de/reviews/39332.html

De:Bug, December 2009


Loop (CL) - December 2009
Text by Guillermo Escudero
http://www.loop.cl/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=618&Itemid=27

German composer/pianist Rothkamm aka Frank Holger Rothkamm now based in Los Angeles has been active since 1986 with more that 20 releases in various formats and compilation appearances. He has done conceptual works with acoustic and electronic compositions.
"ALT" recall me of the 90’s ambient electronica in the likes of the Future Sound of London, exploring vast ambience which reveals a broader spatial context.
Rothkamm using analog, computers and algorithms goes deep into experimentation with microtonal and abstract sounds.
This album offers spare, beautiful and spacious music.


Maeror3 Live Journal (RU) - December 2009
Text by Maeror3
http://maeror3.livejournal.com/126508.html

Maeror3 Live Journal, December 2009


Tokafi (DE) - December 2009
Text by Fred M. Wheeler
http://www.tokafi.com/newsitems/frank-rothkamm-alt/

Understanding and enjoying at the same time: A bond between technical sounds and real life...

Candidly broken down into several chapters of electronic and purely computer-enhanced sounds, Frank Rothkamm's "ALT" seems hard to digest at first. Is it merely a blasphemy of artistic randomness or something else, something conceptual after all? The sounds he's developed are, without fail, well-shaped, precisely executed and groomed with exceptional care and dedication. It indeed seems as though there were a 'Grand Rule' behind it all. But what is it?

ALT unfolds like a symphony of electronic music, making sense of and enhancing its elements, like the chapters of a story, like the sequences of a television series, like the A's and O's of life, a regular person's life. First, there is the foundation, setting the rhythm, but not the melody. The following chapters add to the whole piece, defining in a way which path is to be taken, projecting where the listener and his mind may end up. Computer-created choirs are introduced as background music, not only complementing the growing range of notes, but also the bond between technical sounds and real life.

The latter seems to be at least one of the objectives of Rothkamm. Born in the city of Gütersloh, in the north-western area of Germany, he selected Los Angeles, California, as the place to develop and hone his artistic talents, obvious not only in his musical solo-output but also in his important and very much appreciated contributions for several projects ranging from notable clients such as Warner Bros., Ford, Hewlett Packard and the Los Angeles Times, to just name a few. As a result, ALT indeed has an immediate appeal, and it may well be a manifesto to the aesthetic of 'supermodernism', proclaimed by Rothkamm in 2002, trying to 'overthrow the dominant illusion of reality'. But let's not indulge too much in words and definitions. With regards to what I called the 'Grand Rule' at the beginning, I'd like to suggest a much more simple train of thought.

Rothkamm has published a well-balanced piece of art with this album. On the one hand, it offers a variety of interpretations, depending on the listener's state of mind. At the same time, he has created a structured composition, which leads the way these interpretations may go. Deriving pleasure from conceptual music isn't always easy. At times merely trying to understand it is hard enough. With ALT, however, Rothkamm has achieved the ideal: Enabling the listeners to understand and enjoy at the same time.


Rockerilla (IT) - November/December 2009
Text by Michele Casella
http://www.rockerilla.com

Rockerilla, November/December 2009


Monsieur Délire (CA) - November 2009
Text by François Couture
http://sv-se.facebook.com/note.php?note_id=209101155427

Full disclosure: For the past few years, the French label Baskaru has been hiring me to write the press releases sent out with promo copies of their releases. These unsigned papers are designed to sell and convince. That being said, in the specific case of Frank Rothkamm's ALT, I mean every single word I wrote on that press release. The album was meant to come out last spring, but there have been delays at Baskaru, and now it comes out just as Rothkamm is self-releasing (on his own Flux imprint) his Tetralogy - three CDs and one DVD coming out between Oct '09 and Jan. '10. (In fact, the second installment, Zahra Fugues, is available for download FOR FREE, but only until Christmas.) ALT is, by far, Rothkamm's most accessible record yet, and for two main reasons: 1) the mystification side of the album – always important in Rothkamm's works – is downplayed and more subtle than usual; 2) the music is akin to ambient electronica. It consists in a set of short electronic pieces, soft and melodic, very pretty. Highly recommended. A strange contrast in a body of work already full of contrasts.


Frequencies.It (IT) - November 2009
Text by Federico Spadavecchia
http://www.frequencies.it/2009/11/18/rothkamm-alt-analog-computers-algorithms-baskaru/

Fosse vissuto ai tempi della Restaurazione l'avrebbero torturato a morte come Giordano Bruno, perchè come lui Frank Rothkamm è un misterioso filosofo visionario prima ancora di essere artista (si parla di lui anche in relazione al MO.MA di New York).
Rothkamm affida le proprie eresie sonore a romatici computers che calcolano con millimetrica precisione la rotta delle comete, mentre lui è completamente perso nel buio.
Nell'oscurità dove tutto è fagocitato dal vuoto le onde celebrali sono drones che rendono lo stato di isolamento ancora più insopportabile; ma proprio quando si è soli, lontani da tutti e tutto, si può avvertire meglio il peso della coscienza e ci si rende conto di essere vivi.
Questa è ambient esistenzialista!
Non serve l'elemento ritmico per conferire tensione al paesaggio di nebbia e paludi tratteggiato da questo bizzarro musicista, ed è comunque inutile cercare di sporgere in là lo sguardo per orientarsi: il suono, massima espressione di architettura matematica, è la chiave dimensionale dello spazio e del tempo per cui ad ogni tocco di chitarra corrisponde un universo differente.
L'io posto davanti all'infinito è un bambino spaurito ma al tempo stesso curioso di scoprire cosa c'è più in là oltre l'orizzonte.
Il disco in questione è un'opera austera con alle spalle una grandissima attività di ricerca, ma a suo modo affascinante con le tracce che colpiscono più per i dettagli che non per il loro insieme. Un cd da ascoltare con la casa deserta stando quasi in contemplazione perchè a differenza di quanto teorizzato da Brian Eno qui non si tratta di musica per ambienti ma di sound design per la nostra anima.


Electric Eclectic (DE) - November 2009
Text by Alexander Dreyhaupt
http://electric-eclectic.de/wordpress/?p=154

Well... Welll... Wellll... I always like the strange and very rare releases of french Baskaru imprint and i also like this one, but if you have to choose between a rare french wine and this french release (by a german höhö) you'd choose the wine! I'll tell you why!

Nowadays most people don't have any former lifes nor will have any in the stinted future, but I do had a lot of them. This CD reminds me of one very special life as a close friend of mighty Timothy Leary back in the good old days when the air was clean and sex was very dirty my friend - I tell you! We used to hang around on his ranch and as you already read it, every 2nd day some lazy drug addicted band came along and played in front of the house, I was very progressive back then and I kicked ass everybody who simply played drums, git & bass - we wanted modern music, so they bored us to death with silly ambient music, whabber wabbber, squeeeeezzze, oink oink…wabbber wabber... as I said they where very addicted to some shit and some more shit, they got the shit from Tim and his mexican friends, but when those losers couldn't pay they had to impawn their instruments especially when they already owned something like a moog. har har... Yes, and in the nights Tim, his wife and even the jung Uma Thurman and me where sitting around with tapedelays, one or two moogs, tapemachines and some gear those addicted guys (I told you musicians) build by themselfes. We sounded kindly like the new Rothkamm, maybe he also was a close friend of us back then? Don't know! All those old recordings where cashed in by the FBI when Tim got arrested in the early 70ies - I'm sure it's because one of those unfaithful musicians! Now comes in my mind, maybe this is one of those old recordings? So, if you are a stinking hippy fuck you need this CD, if you are a stinky art student you also need this CD, if you are a webdesigner, you already listen to it from rapidshare - i know you bloody wankers! Just kidding ;-)


Sefronia (FR) - November 2009
Text by Hugo Catherine
http://www.sefronia.com/album/frank_rothkamm/alt_1989_2009.htm

"Alt 1989-2009", sur la durée, prend la forme d'un appel à l'hallucination sonore. Frank Rothkamm définit un espace mécaniquement oscillant, aux rebonds réguliers et à l'élasticité lourde. Les morceaux filent comme des nuées ondulantes, souvent ténébreuses voire monstrueuses. Pourtant, parfois, des lueurs et des lumières font surface, perçantes. Ailleurs, les sons se font aqueux, nous sommes pris dans une averse sonore, gouttes et gouttelettes définissant une forme d'abstraction naturaliste.

"Alt 1989-2009" se démarque par des effets de spatialisation poussés. Circularité, horizontalité et verticalité se superposent et produisent un espace tangible : les sons sont bien présents. L'auditeur fait ainsi partie intégrante de l'univers sonore. Tantôt nous percevons l'appel d'un gong sur fond de pulsation hyper basse fréquence. Tantôt nous sommes encerclés par la démultiplication des choeurs et des vocalises. Notre perception spatiale est tout aussi importante que la qualité brute des sons. Nous nous laissons prendre par une belle expérience auditive de l'infini.

L'impression de découverte d'un monde sonore unique prédomine. Prises dans l'oscillation permanente, les stridences passagères, les tremolos fréquents, nos oreilles naviguent au gré du traitement du signal sonore. Une manière puissante de rompre avec le silence ou le vacarme ambiant. (9/10)


AmbientBlog (NL) - October 2009
Text by Peter van Cooten
http://www.vancooten.com/blog/?e=244

Frank Rothkamm is a composer as well as a conceptual artist. You can tell when visiting his website, but also when reading the promo text for this new CD: "He cultivates enigmas [...] In fact, Rothkamm is a magician, a prestidigitation theoretician, and a carny all in one".

Wow. Big Words. Want more? Read here!

But luckily he's not without humour. His discography boasts 21 releases - among which Opus Spongebobicum, a set of piano variations on the first ten notes from the "Spongebob Squarepants" theme song. (Don't know it, but I'd love to hear it!)

His latest release, ALT is released on the Baskaru label. It is a collection of 'analog computers & algorithms', created between 1989 and 2009.

It's a diverse collection of sounds. Sometimes based around the beautiful old-fashioned sounds of analog synths, like the opener AAA, but also featuring string loop tracks (GUI) and choir samples reminiscent of some tracks by Biosphere (OOO).
All tracks explore a different starting point, and the result is a varied album full of quite accessible electronic music.

"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."

The last statement is especially true, since most of the 10 tracks on ALT are fairly short - the full album finishes after just 40 minutes. So to 'experience an infinite process' you probably will have to put it on repeat.

Though this album conceptually is quite different to most other 'ambient/electronic' albums, the result will obviously please anyone interested in electronic sounds.
So, to conclude with another quote from the promo text: "ALT makes an excellent introduction to the Rothkammian mystery."


Vital Weekly (NL) - October 2009
Text by Frans de Waard
http://www.vitalweekly.net/702.html

Over the past few years I must admit I have a strong affection for the music of Frank Rothkamm. He is a serious composer of electronic music, but he's always in for a surprise or two, usually hidden as a concept that lurks underneath the music, but the great thing is that it is never in the way of the music. Creating a CD with piano variations of the first ten of the tune to 'Spongbob Squarepants', an electro record, an organ record and now with 'Alt' he produces an ambient record. When the machines rock (I took that from Gary Numan), they rock, that's the idea of Rothkamm. He sets the parameters of a piece on his machines - an array of analogue synthesizers or perhaps digital ones, and when everything is set in motion, he hardly adjusts the machines to what they are doing. Thus he creates ten variations to that theme, which harks back to say Brian Eno and everything that came after that, say Pete Namlook (but shorter in duration), say HIA, say Biosphere or anything on Hypnos (but perhaps at times a bit more 'loop' based, rather than endless sustaining sounds. As such, perhaps this album, is not the greatest revelation in music you could expect from Rothkamm, but in his catalogue of works so far, its perhaps the least conceptual one - or perhaps just a very loose concept: create an ambient album - but like so much else of his work, this is quite a pleasant, late night listening album. Nice one. Again.



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