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Catalog No: FLX16
Artist: Frank Rothkamm
Title: K5
Label: Flux Records
Length: 33:30
Composed: 2004
Release Date: 3/3/2013
Edition Size: 100
File Under: 5th state of matter
additive Synthesis

"K" is the 5th letter in the first and third name of Frank Holger Rothkamm (FHR).

"K5" is the name of a sound synthesizer built by the Japanese company Kawai in 1987.

"K5" is also the name of a 33 minute long CD produced by FHR in Hollywood and New York with the "K5" synthesizer. It was performed for the first time on the "Day of Noise" at Stanford University KZSU radio in the second month of 2012.

"K5 as the Fifth State of Matter" is a 26 minute lecture and a 33 minute audio-visual performance of "K5" which will take place at Harvestworks in New York in the 3rd month of 2013. FHR will use a hammer as an instrument and nail 33 K5 CDs to the projection wall. A reception will follow.

Tracklisting: year opus
[01] View Park ID 17 2012 376 0:04
[02] Hollywood Ancient Mariners 2004 22 6:45
[03] View Park ID 18 2012 435 0:04
[04] New York Dead Metal 2004 27 6:05
[05] Hollywood Tuba Pacifica 2004 23 5:08
[06] View Park ID 19 2012 454 0:04
[07] Hollywood Spirit Level (for Ray Charles) 2004 24 6:13
[08] View Park ID 20 2012 482 0:04
[09] New York Threshold Magnitude 2004 26 9:03


Frank Rothkamm: Kawai K5 Digital MultiDimension Synthesizer
To make things easier for the “unlettered know-it-all” kind of populace who might happen to stumble upon this (wannabe) civil-libertarian blog, words could be spent about additive synthesis, 1987’s Kawai K5 – the device configuring this music – representing a sort of unsuccessful experiment in that area.
But why wasting time and energies when the overactive mind of Herr Frank Rothkamm explains all you need to cognize in regard to the above mentioned synthesis? Not only that: the most exhaustively challenging liner notes (check the label link) found in a long while put the unsuspecting addressee right inside a concatenation of distinctly exposed historical, philosophical and preternatural connections that alone surpasses the avalanches of esoteric cheap talk heard by this writer practically everywhere. Where else you will find an affiliation of the powers of Kurzweil and Synclavier machines with the concealed codes of freemasonry? Adorers of the vacuity (in all senses): fasten your seat belts and read carefully. It’s never too late to learn some new perspectives on what really shapes the cosmic laws.
The malleability of the sounds expelled by the K5 is inarguable, and Rothkamm is well known for his skillfulness in altering predigested communicatory schemes via vintage machinery (he’s actually proficient in much everything he chooses to tackle, like the few remained individuals on the planet who do not announce themselves as “specialists” in something). No archaic instrument exists which, in the German’s sagacious hands, does not yield evolutional furtherance in relation to a percipient human willing to act as a sensitive aerial. The stunning vistas explicated by these materializations can appear as crystal-clear curves, nebulous enigmas or mere abstractions, depending on the music’s acceleration (or lack thereof) and of course on the synthetic parameters applied. One thing is for sure: not a second of this CD conducts frivolousness, and nobody can afford the luxury of describing it with sarcastic irreverence. How dare you, with titles such as “Threshold Magnitude” and “Spirit Level (For Ray Charles”)? (Just kidding, Frank). There are decades of experience and research behind this collection of momentous designs, their lambent complexity speaking for itself.
Then again, when one reads “File Under: 5th state of matter additive synthesis”, all fits. At least for a pair of demythologizing philosophers. Perhaps Rothkamm should prepare an idiot-proof adaptation of his acute vision for the philostophers (*), too.
(*) = From a philostopher is “someone who attempts (often in order to impress members of the opposite sex/colleagues) to play the role of sophisticated philosopher, but instead ends up becoming lost up his/her own ass, due to being completely out of their depth”. The term was famously utilized by Frank Zappa in his epic piece “Greggery Peccary”.

Frank runs through the ramifications, numerological, linguistic, esoteric, epistemological and also, but most importantly, those pertaining to synthesiser identification. Japanese instrument manufacturer Kawai brought out a range of digital synthesisers during the 80s that included the K5, a grey box that, unusually, offered the user the ability to generate sounds using additive synthesis, still one of the lesser encountered synthesis methods even today. Having owned a (dire but enjoyed) K1 – similar to, but slightly worse than, a Roland D10 or D50 – I felt the warm glow of nostalgia for obsolete, unintuitive, obstructive and unlovely instruments that somewhere in their cold machine hearts may offer an unusual effect or hidden feature more easily and satisfyingly accessed through other hardware
From the years 2004 and 2012 we are presented with nine pieces, titled but also catalogued by the composer using the classical opus numbering system, a conceit which points towards the electro-orchestral nature of the box-symphonies within. Atonalities, sine waves, alien drones and glissandos slide around like the shadows of Platonic solids looming in a grey pixel-mist. Indeed, these CD slices shift like a Plato’s cave Xerox of Cologne WDR produkt. No tape friction, no heat – moving images projected.
Rothkamm delights in arcane logic structure, obtuse menu systems appealing to the hermetically minded, push button accessed sub menus, office furniture taken through a black hole, laminated sheets of plastic sound extruded like one of Gen Ken Montgomery’s lamination pieces. The album a monomaniacal exploration of parameters of a single instrument, almost arbitrary and absurd, but pursued with straight-faced rigour – a sort of well-tempered synthesis module. For him, the romance of the manual – a ring binder of instructions for an instrument that doesn’t exist populated with the harmonics of the imagination
These multiple variations on grey tones induce dreams of plastic walls, a Silicon Valley labyrinth, 3D Monster Maze infiltrated by self-replicating machine sprites, endlessly repeating cubicles, blank, moulded casings open to a Blue Öyster Cult sky populated with silently hulking Apple Macintoshes and IBM PCs, grey dots on black monitors.
There is a Californian tinge that reminds of Erik Davis’s Techgnosis tome, equally there are echoes of the endless mutations of human art generator Conrad Schnitzler. You get the feeling there could be zip discs full of this stuff and it could be churned out as quickly as printing a pdf instruction manual. And that’s a compliment in this context (in case you couldn’t tell).I regard Schnitzler as a great artist and poet of our times, reformatting and subverting, amongst other things, man-machine myths. Rothkamm’s interchangeable studies of machine symphonics share a steely grind and similarly impish humour combo. Do not be fooled by the featureless plastic exterior. Or, in fact, do be. Mr Frank Rothkamm sails a similarly lone course through the uncharted digital oceans, the winds of concept and phone-numbers for long-since-disappeared tech-support departments filling his sails, scanning the horizons, hunting the great white midi monster
A whale of a time is guaranteed for all pop lovers. Be sure to visit the website for more floppy disc riffs on additive synthesis, sine waves and Plato. If I can quote Mr Rothkamm: ‘the K5 synthesizer is a Platonic Machine because I can personally assure you a posteriori that while working with it you do not experience any pleasure or pain whatsoever, only the numbing sensation of tedious repetition, which is quite sinusoidal.’
Amen, and enjoy!

It is no coincidence , perhaps, that the duration of the CD is so precise , thirty-three minutes and thirty seconds. Beyond some consideration mysticism ( year of our Lord , and the like) , it is natural to associate this ' life ' to the typical practices of certain math rock ( rock structured according to strict mathematical calculations ) . In fact there is nothing here to rock , but surely the time so precise and very Kraftwerk -style artwork give a sense of coolness and precision that then is also found between the lines of the songs. Frank Rothkamm is avant-garde artist no ifs , ands or buts . With a strong classical training behind him, has ranged between genders , sharing their talents in many projects and collaborations, while remaining true to the motto of making art for the sheer pleasure of it , without obtaining economic gain . Even this " K5" does not deviate from the guidelines of the German author . The first track , " ID 17" , opens between the buzzing synth , as well as "Ancient Mariners " , with echoes of the romanticism of Coleridge . The reverbs used by Rothkamm continue in " ID18 ", while " Dead Metal" refers to the electronic avant-garde of the early '70s. The atmosphere became more rarefied in "Spirit Level " , to transcend the final "Threshold Magnitude ." The world of Rothkamm is synthetic, it always has been and always will be. Hard to think of going out to hear acoustic arpeggios from the speakers of your stereo (or MP3, but it's better stereo ... ) while spinning a CD of this artist. However, its structures , so perfect and linear , reminiscent of classical music: the formal beauty of his music, for those who appreciate electronics, has always been his trademark, and also this " K5" (which is not for nothing is the name of a model for the Japanese brand Kawai synthesizer ) is no exception to this cliché. The situation is different if we consider the entire corpus of his work. The lack of big news in the songwriting in the long run can become heavy and affect the good insights scattered here and there. His work in fact , if you listened to in series, denouncing a certain repetitiveness that does not help to follow the course nor , often , to identify the good things that you can find. However, we believe that this is the limit and valuable at the same time , because it has allowed this author to carry on a conversation that , between collaborations and solo work with A23h now continues without interruption since 1986. Ask or imagine a radical change in his art is almost impossible. Gustiamocelo then as it is, without thinking too much about the past.
Non è un caso, forse, che la durata del CD sia così precisa, trentatre minuti e trentatre secondi. Al di là di qualche considerazione mistica (anni di nostro Signore e affini), viene spontaneo associare questa 'durata' alle pratiche tipiche di certo math rock (il rock strutturato secondo rigidi calcoli matematici). In realtà di rock qui c'è nulla, ma sicuramente la durata così precisa e l'artwork molto Kraftwerk-style danno un senso di freddezza e precisione che poi si riscontra anche fra le righe dei brani. Frank Rothkamm è artista di avanguardia senza se e senza ma. Con una forte formazione classica alle spalle, ha spaziato fra i generi, dividendo il proprio talento fra mille progetti e collaborazioni, pur rimanendo sempre fedele al motto di fare arte per il puro piacere di farlo, senza tornaconti economici. Anche questo "K5" non si discosta dalle linee guida dell'autore tedesco. La prima traccia, "ID 17", si apre tra i ronzii del synth, così come "Ancient Mariners", con echi del romanticismo di Coleridge. I riverberi usati da Rothkamm proseguono in "ID18", mentre "Dead Metal" rimanda alle avanguardie elettroniche dei primi '70. Le atmosfere si fanno più rarefatte in "Spirit Level", fino a trascendere nella conclusiva "Threshold Magnitude". Il mondo di Rothkamm è sintetico, lo è sempre stato e sempre lo sarà. Difficile pensare di sentire uscire arpeggi acustici dalle casse del proprio stereo (o MP3, ma è meglio lo stereo...) mentre gira un CD di questo artista. Tuttavia le sue strutture, così perfette e lineari, ricordano quelle della musica classica: la bellezza formale della sua musica, per chi apprezza l'elettronica, è sempre stato il suo marchio di fabbrica, e anche questo "K5" (che non per nulla è il nome di un modello di sintetizzatore della marca giapponese Kawai) non sfugge a questo cliché. Il discorso cambia se si considera l'intero corpus della sua opera. La mancanza di grosse novità nel songwriting alla lunga può diventare pesante e inficiare le buone intuizioni sparse qua e là. I suoi lavori infatti, se ascoltati in serie, denunciano una certa ripetitività che non aiuta a seguirne lo svolgimento né, spesso, ad individuarne le ottime cose che vi si possono trovare. Crediamo però che ciò sia limite e pregio allo stesso tempo, perché ha consentito a questo autore di portare avanti un discorso che, fra collaborazioni, lavori solisti e con gli A23h, ormai prosegue ininterrottamente dal 1986. Chiedere o ipotizzare un cambiamento radicale nella sua arte è pressoché impossibile. Gustiamocelo quindi così com'è, senza pensare troppo al passato.
Ferruccio Filippi DARKROOM

I follow the German artist (now stably integrated in the skin tissue and offices of the United States) and every time I am going to put into the player his new work, I never know what sound you meet, what material has shaped his intellect giving sound and structure .

From romantic suite for piano at the forefront of "Reno", a career that fluctuates between culture and classical training flights brain and in the future, temporal place to meet people who expects the extremism in the Art innovative.

"K 5" is not only cutting edge but the projected reminder of what in the past was the pure composition for the modern era, the one we live in today, evil absorbed, little studied, almost avoided in understanding the general mediocrity media.

For this you will always avant-garde because it ties the Man in its history, comes to light as a nebulous idea of ??the artist's thought and becomes progressively eurythmy even in the chaos, but harmony, which you have to situate you.

In its nine tracks "K 5" new art, the curtain of this work stands up with "ID 17" and from that moment a swarm of buzzing synth sound invades, twelve-tone scales, sequences from stasis and sudden swift in coming expand into ranges evolved.

Artificial life forms that live in the score imaginary Rothkamm grow in small high-pitched sounds or tensions modular, each following its own trajectory, such as electrons and swirling in their apparent pursuit of orbital levels were set and the music is divided into many layers they meet and intersect lines, exploding in crowds, compressing slowly until the collapse provided by the author.

And new life is born and a new sound was born ...

Sci-fi sounds of that particular genre that accompanied the science fiction films of the 60s or 70s when science and fiction were not overlapping each other and the Cosmos source of Terror, ambush likely and the music emphasized this source of research with its research, words and instruments such as the Moog (one of the key innovation of the synth) were spreading among the musicians and the music in the service of the images expanded even more the imagination of the authors.

In "K 5" meets the history of electronics that paints ultra-modern music, not for nothing is also the name of a historic synth Kawai of Japan, from this encounter thousands of exploding shrapnel, thousands of sounds grow and form conceived in 'uterus mental Rothkamm, gestated in time and meticulous care in an attempt to not suppress his expression that needs to be constant and changing the light / dark contrast through nine suites, nine paintings abstract Spatialists and vorticistici, suitable for listening album or audio support to an installation figurative and metabolization of them is gorgeous drown between the long wave ebbs and digital sound.

Drowning in the infinite sense of Art that swallows and returns in time ...

Swallows and returns ... over time, with boldness.

-- original Italian ---

Seguo l’artista tedesco (oramai stabilmente integrato nel tessuto cutaneo e intellettuale degli Stati Uniti) ed ogni volta che mi appresto ad inserire nel lettore un suo nuovo lavoro non so mai quale suono  incontrerò, quale materia ha plasmato il suo intelletto donandole suono e struttura.

Dalla suite romantica per pianoforte alle avanguardie di “Reno”, una carriera che fluttua tra cultura e formazione classica e voli cerebrali nel futuro, luogo temporale per incontrare chi nell’Arte pretende l’oltranzismo innovativo.

“K 5” è non solo avanguardia proiettata ma il richiamo a ciò che nel passato fu la composizione pura per l’era moderna, quella che viviamo oggi, male assorbita, poco analizzata, quasi evitata nella comprensione dalla mediocrità mediatica generale.

Per questo sarà sempre avanguardia perché lega l’Uomo nella sua storia, esce alla luce come idea nebulosa dal pensiero dell’artista e diventa man mano euritmia anche nel caos, ma armonia, quale dovrete inquadrarla voi.

Nelle sue nove tracce “K 5” è nuova Arte, il sipario di quest’opera si alza con “ID 17” e da quel momento uno sciame sonoro invade tra ronzii del synth, scale dodecafoniche, sequenze improvvise fulminee nell’uscire dalle stasi ed ampliarsi in gamme evolute.

Forme di vita artificiale che vivono nello spartito immaginario di Rothkamm crescono nei piccoli suoni acuti o nelle tensioni modulari, seguendo ognuna  la propria traiettoria, come elettroni nel loro apparente e vorticoso inseguimento su livelli orbitali prefissati e la musica si divide in molte stratificazioni incontrandosi ed intersecandosi nelle linee, esplodendo in materia folle, comprimendosi lentamente sino al collasso previsto dall’autore.

E nuova vita nasce e nuovo suono nasce …

Sonorità sci-fi di quel particolare genere che accompagnava i film fantascientifici degli anni ’60 o ’70 quando scienza e finzione erano tra loro disgiunti ed il Cosmo fonte di Terrore, d’agguato probabile e la musica sottolineava questa fonte di ricerca con la sua ricerca, parole e strumentazioni come i Moog (uno dei momenti fondamentali dell’innovazione del synth) si diffondevano tra i musicisti e la musica al servizio delle immagini ampliava ancora di più la fantasia degli autori.

In “K 5” s’incontra la storia dell’elettronica che dipinge musica ultramoderna, non per nulla è anche il nome di uno storico synth della nipponica Kawai; da questo incontro migliaia di schegge esplodono, migliaia di suoni crescono e si formano concepiti nell’utero mentale di Rothkamm, gestati nel tempo e curati nel minuzioso tentativo di non reprimere la sua espressione che necessita di essere costante e mutevole nel contrasto luce/buio tramite nove suite, nove dipinti astratti spazialisti e vorticistici, adatti per essere album d’ascolto o supporto audio ad un’installazione figurativa e nella metabolizzazione di essi è stupendo annegare tra le lunghe onde e riflussi digitali del suono.

Annegare nell’infinito senso d’Arte che inghiotte e restituisce nel tempo …

Inghiotte e restituisce … nel tempo, con audacia.

Dans Frank comme dans Rothkamm, le K occupe la 5e position. Et K5 est le nom d’un synthétiseur fabriqué par Kawai en 1987. Cet album, Rothkamm l’a produit entièrement sur le K5. D’une durée de 33 minutes, il propose cinq œuvres composées en 2004, plus quatre intercalaires miniatures. Les pièces de 2004 se rapprochent beaucoup du matériel qui compose la trilogie FB (2005-2007), soit une musique électronique microtonale faites de glissandos et de rapports harmoniques déstabilisants, une musique qui évoque celle des pionniers de l’électronique abstraite, de Brün à Xenakis.
In Frank as in Rothkamm, the fifth letter is K. And K5 is the name of a Kawai synthesizer from 1987. Rothkamm produced this album solely on the K5 synthesizer. It consists in five works written in 2004, plus four ultra-short interludes, for a total of 33 minutes. The 2004 pieces are very close in sound and style to the material found in the FB trilogy (2005-2007), i.e. microtal electronic music made of glissandi and destabilizing harmonic structures. This music evokes the pioneers of abstract electronic music, from Brün to Xenakis.
François Couture CLFX

The 33 CDRs Frank Rothkamm produced where nailed against a wall as part of an exhibition and later sold as an art item. Its a pity that my particular copy was nailed through the actual CDR so it doesn't play. But Rothkamm send me a download link so I can hear it anyway, while I now have an art object disguised as a CDR. There seems to be less of a conceptual edge to this work than on some of Rothkamm other works, and the nine pieces here last 33 minutes and 33 seconds. The whole art thing was part of a lecture and audio-visual performance
Rothkamm is a collector of vintage synthesizers, which he puts to good use here. Some of these pieces are quite short, and hardly with any sound. The longer pieces are studies for the K5 synthesizer (well, all are, but here at least we hear something) made by Kawai in 1987
The music is not too dissimilar to what I sometimes refer to as 'Planet Of The Apes' film score. That soundtrack has become the template of almost anything that sounds like analogue synthesizers without the cosmic use of arpeggio's - space is not place here, but with all that microsound gliding and sustaining, bouncing in and out of the mix. Its actually nice music
Perhaps it doesn't stand out with some others in the same field, and perhaps the conceptual Rothkamm edge is not apparent, but purely as a musical release it is very nice
Frans de Waard VITAL WEEKLY

Frank Rothkamm played the world debut of his newest song set, titled K5, to be released later on his Flux record label. We had a fun interview as well, where he talked about his love for older technologies: vinyl records, analog synths. He’s got one of the very first (if not the first) Hewlett-Packard oscillators in his possession, it seems. And on his way out of the station, he was intent on visiting the Computer History Museum, which seemed fitting.
Craig KZSU


Ambiante, électroacoustique, bruitiste : la musique électronique: 2 heures de musiques électroniques récentes.

Ambient, electroacoustic, noise: electronic music: 2 hours of recent releases in electronic music.

(8:00 pm)


Wonder Particle





Keio Line

I Love You…


Normal Cookie


Ghost Road









(8:30 pm)


Balcony I - alpha

Green Heights





Lord Tang




Ar mir sanq paq aq li





Ill Fares the Land

Watching Dead Empires in Decay


Modern Love

(9:00 pm)


Opera Povera

No End of Vinyl




Dead Metals



Flux Records


Stroomtoon Zeven

Stroomtoon II


Herbal international



frequencies (synthetic variations)





frequencies (synthetic variations)





frequencies (synthetic variations)





frequencies (synthetic variations)



(9:30 pm)






Devant l'envie



La Cohu


Adelphi Wave (Pythian Walks)

Nouvelles Upanishads du Yoga



 François Couture CFLX

Sieg Der Liebe Feat. mark Gisbourne: Weekend Squeeze (Various artists: Swimmin’ With Friends Again - Nonine Recordings)
Ara: Despair Personified (The Blessed Sleep)
Frank Holger Rothkamm: Spirit Level (K5 – Flux Records)
Lychgate: Dust of a Gun Barrel (Lychgate - Mordgrimm / Gilead Media)
Ensemble SuperMusique: Malgré tout Face A (Bruit court-cicuit – Ambiances Magnétiques)
None Dare Call It Conspiracy: One step down (Tales of the Lost - H&R Productions)
Emme Ya: Chthonic Transmission (Abysmi Vel Daath) (Chthonic Transmission (Abysmi Vel Daath) – Cold Spring Records)
Avakr: The Sight of a Thousand Fires Illuminating the Valley (A Word From Within)
David Starr: TUC 02 (Various artists: KeenBrainKeen – Keen Zine)