Album: ALT
Author: Mike Wood
Publication: Foxy Digitalis
Date: 3/14/2010

“ALT” is a series of precise, computerized statements, each seemingly complete in and of themselves. Frank Rothkamm, in addition to electronic sound manipualtor, is also a conceptual artist, and prior releases have featured experiments with odd instruments, toy instruments, orchestrated environments, etc. So is there a concept here? Does the whole signify anything? If the title is deliberate, though enigmatic—alternate, alteration, alternative-- what is this an alternate form of, an alteration of what?

Of the ten tracks, the opener is the weakest. “AAA” is merely a bumpy pulse that wobbles a few times, but goes nowhere or creates no response. “GUI” is almost Eastern, with a guitar-driven tone becoming increasingly more clean, resonant, vibrant. The hermetic, submarine, claustrophonic of “RED” segues into the sci-fi noir of “SUN.” As the record progresses, the tones begin to approach stand alone soundscapes, reflecting Krautrock-like coolness (“OOO”) or a spacy, nebulous curiosity (“MID”). “CON,” a moody closer, feels like a summation of themes, though there aren’t any.

“ALT” is puzzling, then not. Frank Rothkamm’s sound-shaping can be heard as individual moments, or a loosely linked set of fleeting atmospheres. In that sense, it really doesn’t matter if there is a concept; these are tones that drift by, and then fade out before questions really seem important.

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