Album: Frank Genius is Star Struck
Publication: Heathen Harvest
Frank Rothkamm is an artist from the San Fransisco area that has coined himself as being one of the only conceptual sound artists that can be labeled as “original”. Not just in his area of the large state of California, but apparently the whole world. It would seem then that an ego the size of the city in which he resides would be needed to back a release like “Frank Genius is Star Struck”. On the flip-side though, there's a strange ironic twist in the fact that he uses, at least for this release, recycled pop history layers and rips apart the face like some schizophrenic Thomas Hewitt (Leatherface), only to re-wear them as a bizarre, funky, even jazzy version of their mashed former selves. Needless to say, Frank Genius is Star Struck is downright weird and involves everything from jazzy layers to electronic madness in both the percussive and melodic vain.
Frank Genius is Star Struck opens up with a short track in “Atari” which basically gives us the track title and quickly heads into Chelsea Girl – whether or not the sample is taken from a Velvet Underground Cover, I don't know, but while the rhythm sounds the same, the voice obviously isn't. The voice-layering makes the track seem darker than it is given the jazzy background. The following track borrows from Madonna amongst other artists as the album continues on this path The primary constant throughout the album is the menas by which the beats are made themselves. They all have a nearly acoustic ambient aura surrounding them as their tone quality matches the strange treble pseudo-melodics that are present in the genre. However, the beat itself can vary from jazz to techno and pop, even to the industrial experimentations of Fetus and Raymond Watts (especially when matching “Vast” to Pig's “My Sanctuary”.)
Frank decides to end the album as strangely as it began, with a quote from the 17th century poet Robert Herrick's “On the Nipples of Julia's Breast:”
“Have ye beheld (with much delight)
A red rose peeping through white?”
Why he only chose the opening two lines from the poem, I do not know, but it is certainly an unseen, if not humorous, ending to an otherwise rather frail attempt at an “original” work of soundart. It is, however, true that each journalist will have his own opinion and Mr. Rothkamm has seen many positive reviews from us in the past – this album just doesn't happen to be one of those apparently impressive efforts. While the talent is obviously there, and his attempt is certainly in the right place, it just doesn't appear that he hit the mark that he was attempting to hit with this effort. Frank Genius is Star Struck unfortunately comes off as less “original”, and more of another recycled recording with break-beats galore and random genre orientation. There's nothing linear about the mindset or the music pattern here... To put it bluntly, any artist can splatter paint on a canvas. Its what you do with that technique that matters. This simply wasn't impressive, but through the listen one can see where others may find quality in his other works.
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