Album: Music of the Sheena People
Author: Frans de Waard
Publication: VITAL WEEKLY (source)
Date: 01/21/2019

For whatever reason I am not entirely sure, I get a lot of emails from Frank Rothkamm, inviting me
to listen to his works online. Not always, but I do read what it is about, and sometimes they are very
conceptual and I can't make a clue what it is about. Lots of this contains references to the world of
pop and classical music, but also visual art. I am a bit surprised to find this on my actual desk, as I
wasn't aware that Rothkamm was still into the whole process of manufacturing physical releases,
but apparently, so he still is. Here are five pieces for the 'Sheena People'. I hate long quotes, but
this one is just so good, I quote the text from the website in total. With some white space, so you
know it is all a quote;

“The music of the People has never been heard before.” Sheena was not in a good mood. “For
millennia it has been suppressed, or worse, simply ignored in the Western narrative of supposedly
postmodern philosophers. Today, nobody cares anymore unless there is a Like button. Reality
does not have buttons.” Furious, Sheena commanded us to stay on the narrow path through the
dense forest and to not touch anything, especially those lovely apples over there. “Don’t even think
about eating these, and why in the world would you just eat apples that hang around here, don’t
you have any granola bars or something?” We did have provisions, those super duper trail-mixes
with the chocolates in them. Talking about in the mix. “Yeah, just eat your cheap sugar and kid
yourself with all that extra dopamine in your brain that you are feeling satisfied with this buttoned-
up reality in front of you.” We immediately sat down and tweeted this because for some miraculous
reason our cell phone reception was 4 bars and counting here in the middle of the narrow path
through the dense forest. “Boy, oh Boy, it is hot in here, I want to take all my clothes off.” Ashamed,
we looked at each other, and then stared at different parts of rhizomes that appeared to be
everywhere, like a network, that is everywhere but nowhere in particular. “Derrida would have a
field day today, this ain’t no Orange County, no, all these are arguments for Conservatism, in
particular for the pentatonic scale.” We finally reached an overlook and could see how far the
dense forest stretched, all the way to the horizon, if we were to see the horizon, so we imagined.
“See, with the pentatonic scale you can compare apples and oranges.” Sheena was in a good
mood. “Each step, therefore, can be considered a tonic, each note is a starting point, no doubt,
There are no small 2nds, we don’t want no half-step sidekicks, we prefer whole 2nd ones.
Harmonically we only add or subtract 4ths, sometimes 5ths, but from each of the 5 notes of the
pentatonic scale.” What about the rhythms, are they like the Lizard People’s binary? We looked
around for answers in the East, West and South. There is nothing in the North. Ask any Mason.
Sheena was long gone but left us another Intelligent Formula Music (IFORMM) to ponder. I guess
we are in the 5th world now. Come to think of it, “Music of the Sheena People” is nothing but an I-
Ching-like cheap imitation of Jon Hassell’s 4th world: Sheena People are just Plastic People from
LA.

Does that sound great? It sure does. Of course providing, I would know what it means, and I have
no clue. But that's okay; meaning and understanding should never spoil a good story, I'd say.
Obviously, after writing some thirty years about music, I still haven't got a clue about music, so 4ths
and 5ths...? But as I said never leaving meaning and understanding, or the lack thereof, spoil a
review, good or bad. I always enjoy the music of Rothkamm, conceptual as it sometimes is. Here in
these four pieces, he takes a rather musical route and at the core is the sampling of instruments. In
'We Are The 5th World', with almost fifty minutes by far the longest piece, it is all with an orchestral
set; percussion, wind instruments, playing very fine minimal yet melodic pieces, revolving around
repeating phrases, which seem to be changing all the time, every so lightly. Quite an evocative
piece and it would have already been enough for me. The others are fine as well but somewhat
more minimal in approach, both from the composition and the use of sound sources, faster ('We
Will Go Now') or slower ('We Will Be Heard' and 'We Have No Children'). As I was struggling with
the end of year tax paperwork and general accounting bullshit, I had this on repeat for a few hours
and found the meditational aspect of the music to be very suitable for doing such work. Excellent
music with an obscured story; what else do you want?

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