Album: Ghost of New York
Author: Shannon Smith
Publication: Foxy Digitalis
Date: 12/17/2009

Frank Rothkamm’s “The Ghost of New York” is a very comfortable album, yet with a surprise around every corner. The sounds are often familiar analog synth sounds, but the arrangements are new. They flutter and hover, doing their sci-fi tricks, but the layers are intense and intricate. There is plenty of room for blank space, and Rothkamm is not afraid to stop the music in the middle of the track in order to pause for some silence before jumping off to the next set of layers. Every so often, the music must crash and start anew. The song titles encourage a sci-fi bent to the album – “Ectoplasm Rejects,” “Self-Levitation Science,” and “The Betrothed of Wyoming” are just three of them. Each song is equally unpredictable, moving from harsh layers, to bell like chimes, to the aforementioned silence. Other practitioners of analog synths, like Ernst Karel, come to mind, but Rothkamm is definitely carving out his own territory. He avoids low drones, hopping instead from sound to sound. “Overcome by Art,” is an interesting example, in which the blips soar and then drop and the rotate all over again, sounding like a prayer. Overall this is a journey of an album, none too delicate, despite its pauses.

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