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Frank Rothkamm: "ALT"

img  Fred M. Wheeler

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. 

By Fred M. Wheeler

Homepage: Frank Rothkamm
Homepage: Baskaru Records

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